Hold each pose as long as it feels good to you. Suggested: count 6 -10 breaths or stay 1-5 minutes in each.
Since we keep our stress held tightly in our physical bodies, it’s important to learn how to let go of this stress so that it doesn’t turn into chronic tightness, cause injury, or even develop into illness and disease.
If you try the 5 yoga poses below, please note that the key is in how you use the breath as you are in each pose. The breath is one of our best links to our nervous system. Instead of talking yourself into being calm, simply start with putting your attention on your breath and let your mind quiet down.
*These yoga exercises can be done in bed if the ground is not an option, or if you would like to do this practice before you go to bed at night.
CONSTRUCTIVE REST POSE (OPTION -USE PROPS TO SUPPORT YOU)
Start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground or on the bed. Let your arms rest beside you. If you have a pillow or bolster, you can put it under your knees.
Try to imagine the tension in your hips, thighs and lower back melting away, like butter on hot pancakes. Melt down into the ground or mattress.
Breathe slowly into the belly so that the belly balloons up a bit with each inhale and collapses with each exhale. This moves your nervous system into the physiological state of “rest and digest.” Close your eyes and allow yourself to have this time to release tension from your body.
CHILD’S POSE (OPTION -TUCK PILLOWS UNDER BELLY)
This pose is for all the introverts and the wannabe introverts out there. When you make this shape (child’s pose) it will feel like you are turning down the noise of the day by retreating into your own quiet cave.
Bring your knees out as wide as feels good to you, and try to keep your big toes touching as you push your hips back towards your heels. Reach your arms forward and relax your head down into the ground or the mattress.
See if you can notice your lower back slowly lengthening and expanding as the compression of the day starts to ease out of your body with each exhale.
As with the constructive rest pose, focus the breath down into the belly and feel the belly expanding. Also expand the rib cage on the inhales and relax the heart towards the ground on the exhales.
RECLINED TREE POSE (OPTION -PILLOW UNDER THIGH TO SUPPORT KNEE)
You can do this as Reclined Tree Pose, or Reclined Bound Angle Pose. On your back, either take one foot and place it on the inside of the opposite leg, or put both feet together and drop the bent knees out wide.
Choose which of these shapes feels more restful to you. Remember to support the thigh if your knee feels like it’s getting tugged on too much.
Focus on feeling the inner thigh/s lengthen as gravity pulls down on the leg/s. Scan your whole body, starting with the face, jaw, and throat, to see if you can let go of any more tension. Continue to release tension all the way down to your feet.
TWIST (WITH PILLOW OR TOWEL BETWEEN THIGHS) OR CROSSED LEGS
This twist is great for the digestive system and also for stretching tight muscles in the back and hip. Remember to drop your legs to the left first, so that the torso is twisting to the right. Breathe down into your belly to put a gentle massaging pressure on the organs of the digestive system.
As you breathe in this twist, let each exhale take you deeper into relaxing the hips, side and back body.
There are many modifications to this one, you can cross your legs, stack your knees, or put a pillow between your knees or thighs
FIGURE 4 STRETCH
This is a necessary stretch for tight hips, but you must be careful that you aren’t putting pressure on your knee (if you feel knee pain, please back off). Your hip is designed to twist inward, your knee is not.
Put your right foot on top of your left thigh and then see if you can pull the left leg towards you. If it’s too much, just put the left foot back on the bed or ground and let the hip open on its own without pulling the leg towards you.
You can also push the knee away from you. Breathe deeply into the belly and imagine all of the tightness in the hip melting away.