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Sit cross-legged or on the front edge of a chair. Inhale, and slowly sweep your arms sideways and up. Bring your palms together over your head. Exhale, and draw your hands down in front of your heart. Repeat for 8 rounds.
2. Cat and Cow poses
Come onto your hands and knees. Exhale, press into your palms, drop your head, and move your belly up toward your spine. Inhale, soften your belly as you move into a backbend, and look forward. Continue for 5-8 rounds. Initiate the movement from your pelvis.
3. Downward-Facing Dog pose, with a block
This restorative variation allows you to release the weight of your head (literally and metaphorically). Move into Down Dog and place a block under your forehead. Make sure your neck is a soft extension of your spine. Close your eyes and stay for 10 breaths.
4. Plank pose to belly
The deep core work of this pose has a soothing and down-regulating effect on your nervous system. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then slowly lower down.
Watch this video on Plank Pose
5. Cobra pose
Think of a sailboat floating effortlessly up and down on gentle waves. Feel that slow rhythm as you inhale into Cobra Pose and exhale your forehead back down to the floor. Repeat 3-6 times, then press back to Down Dog.
6. Standing forward bend
From Down Dog, walk your hands back to a Standing Forward Bend. Move your feet as wide as your mat, turning your toes in slightly so the outside edges of your feet are parallel to each other. Keep your legs straight, but drop your head. Hang here for 5-8 breaths.
7. Triangle pose
From standing, open your legs wide. Turn your right toes out as you externally rotate your front leg. Inhale, and open your arms. Exhale, and move from your pelvis, first extending forward and then down. Let your back hip do whatever it wants (usually moving slightly forward rather than remaining rigidly stacked).
See also Extended Triangle Pose
8. Half moon pose to standing forward fold, with a block
From Triangle, bend your front knee over your middle toe, and shift forward. Bring a block with you to support your front hand, and extend your back leg parallel to the floor. After a few breaths, release the back leg down into a Standing Forward Fold with a block under your head.
9. Boat pose
Sit on a blanket. Hold your shins, and roll back onto your sacrum. Straighten one leg, then the other. Play here—try lowering your body so that your legs and shoulders hover above the floor. Then come back up into the full pose. Let your abdominal muscles do their job by flexing your lower back. Repeat a few times.
See more on Boat pose
10. Bridge pose, with a block
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and turn your toes in slightly. Lift into Bridge. Hold for 5-8 breaths. Roll down, and repeat 2 more times. On the third round, place a block under your sacrum. Close your eyes, and rest for as long as you’d like. Remove the block, and slowly roll down.
End in Corpse pose. This is yoga’s most powerful pose. It is an opportunity to move away from the constant activity of your waking life, let go of control, and taste the deeply satisfying state of pratyahara, or sense withdrawal. Your body already knows how to relax; all you need to do is set a timer for 20 minutes and receive the joy of Savasana.
For propping a deeply restorative version of Savasana click here.
See also 6 Strategies for Quieting the Mind.
About the author
Lizze Lasater translates her training in art history and architecture into carefully curated digital courses, global Restorative Yoga teacher-training workshops, and her heartfelt spirit jewelry collection. She sometimes jokes that yoga runs in the family—her Mama, Judith Hanson Lasater, co-founded Yoga Journal magazine and has been teaching yoga since 1971. Born in San Francisco, Lizzie lives in the Alps with her tall Austrian. Join the Restorative Revolution with her at www.savasana.life.