Even though I love teaching fast-paced & high intensity Vinyasa classes, my personal practice is the exact opposite! I’ve found that restorative stretching, breathing, and slow movements really help with my anxiety and re-regulate my nervous system. It turns out there’s a ton of science behind restorative and Yin yoga and how it can be used to heal the body and support mental health. Yin yoga is a specific type of relaxing yoga that invites us to hold restorative postures for several minutes at a time, allowing the body the chance to release accumulated tension and tightness in the body. I’ve compiled my top 5 favorite poses that I keep coming back to whenever I feel stressed & overwhelmed. You can do each pose separately or link them together for a mini restorative flow.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose | Supta Baddha Konasana
Come to lie down comfortably on your mat with the soles of the feet together. Let the knees fall out to the sides and flutter them up and down a couple times to get comfortable. You can experiment with drawing your heels closer toward you, or further away from you. Stay wherever you feel most comfortable and adjust as needed! Take one hand to the heart and one hand to the low belly. Begin to take slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose. Spend this time relaxing into the posture, giving yourself permission to create space, be still, and let go. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Reclined Spinal Twist | Supta Matsyendrasana
Transitioning from reclining bound angle pose, gently place your hands underneath your knees and draw the knees in toward one another, pulling them toward your chest, rolling them around in circles. This helps release the the hip flexors. Keep your right knee hugged in toward your chest as you extend your left leg long on the mat. Take your right arm out to the side, palm facing down. Take the left hand and draw the bent right leg over to the left, crossing it over the body. Keep drawing your right shoulder down toward the ground and look toward the right. Hold for 1-3 minutes, then switch sides.
As you are lying down on your back, cross the right ankle over the left knee and flex the foot. Soften your upper back into the mat. Stay here or draw your knee in closer toward your chest as you reach through the triangle you created with your legs. Interlace your hands behind your left knee or thigh,, pulling it closer toward your chest. Find stillness and hold the pose for 1-3 minutes on each side. Bring your intention back to the forefront of your mind, and let this replace your anxiety. Let the anxious thoughts fall away as you focus on the sensations in the body. Switch sides when you're ready. Bring just as much attention to this side, noticing the difference between the two. Know that differences in flexibility in the left and right sides of the body are completely normal!
Aurora has been teaching & studying yoga in Portland & San Francisco for the past 6 years. She creates light-hearted, all levels classes with an emphasis on strength, alignment, creative sequencing, vulnerability, and authenticity. Aurora has taught for Nike, Lululemon, WeWork, Relay for Life, and dozens of companies & organizations around the country. As the Founder of Rooted & Rising, she blends her background in mindfulness & her passion for mental health advocacy through personal stories & yoga guides for anxiety & depression. Her goal in openly sharing her struggles with mental health is to connect with others and de-stigmatize the culture & conversation surrounding mental illness. You can connect with Aurora and download free yoga guides and resources on her website, therootedandrising.com.