Reduce Stress with This 15-Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence

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1 Reduce Stress with This 15-Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence Try this short, stress-busting restorative yoga sequence to ease tension around the holidays, at work, and more Stress it s something everyone has to deal with. If you have responsibilities, you most likely have some sort of stress in your life. Stress can take a toll on you mentally and physically. But the good news is that yoga has long been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol, which, in elevated levels, is associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. And a few small studies on restorative yoga specifically have shown that a slower, more restful practice can do the same, and may even help fight depression and fatigue. Stress doesn t have to affect you in negative ways. Practicing restorative yoga can help to balance things out. Here is a restorative sequence that shouldn t take more than fifteen minutes to practice, so you can fit it into your busy schedule. You will feel the resonance of this short restorative practice in your body throughout your day, and when something happens that might stress you out, you may not be as affected by it. Time: 15 minutes

2 centering You Need: Bolster (Use pillows if you don t have a yoga bolster) 2 blocks (Use books if you don t have yoga blocks) 5 blankets Begin by centering and taking deep, full breaths for one minute, so you can start to slow down your body and your mind, and dissolve stress. For this restorative yoga warm-up, lie down or come to a comfortable seated position either in a chair or on the floor, and focus on your breath. If seated on the floor, find a comfortable cross-legged position. If your knees are higher than your hips, prop yourself up on a blanket or two. Rest your palms on your knees, and on an inhalation, lengthen the spine, reaching up through the crown of your head. Close your eyes and draw your attention inward. Notice where you feel your breath. Notice it coming in through the nostrils and into your lungs. Feel the breath as it travels into your lungs and fills your lungs. Notice the expansion and contraction of your ribs as you breathe in and out.

3 child's pose In Child s Pose, you go inward like a baby in the womb. It s a safe space that makes you feel supported and nurtured. It s also a wonderful pose to stretch the back and neck. For a restorative Child s Pose, place the narrow end of the bolster between your knees and sit back to rest on your heels. Fold forward and rest your whole belly on the bolster. If you are more comfortable and supported on an incline, you may raise the head of the bolster higher by using two blocks (at either short and medium height or medium and tall height) to support the middle and head of the bolster. If desired, place a blanket at the crease of your hip and thigh to create additional support for the low back. If your arms do not rest comfortably on the floor, or they don t reach the floor, place a blanket folded in a rectangle shape under each arm. If you need extra padding under your knees, place a blanket folded lengthwise on the floor. If you have tight feet, place a blanket folded in a square shape (folded three times if you are using a yoga blanket) under the tops of your feet. Once you re comfortable, lower down so that the bolster supports you, and turn your head to one side. After three minutes, turn your head to the other side and hold for three minutes. Make sure you are allowing your body weight to be supported by the bolster and the floor. Relax and enjoy.

4 Supported Bound Angle Pose This pose creates a sense of calm as it works to open up your back and hips, stretches your inner thighs, and opens up your pelvic area. Tight hips are common, especially among people who sit at desks all day, but when your body learns how to release that tension without forcing it, you may find that everything in your life flows better. Opening the hips may move blocked energy and can help if you feel stuck in a rut, stuck in a relationship, or stuck in a job. Place a bolster flat on the floor and two blankets rolled up as mini bolsters if you need more support for under your legs. Bring your lower back up to the narrow end of the bolster. Place your hands on the bolster behind you, push your chest up towards the sky and then lower yourself back down over the bolster. Bring the soles of your feet together, and allow your knees to drop to the sides. Gently bend your elbows and rest your hands on your upper thighs. If you need support for your neck, place a blanket folded in a rectangle shape under your head. Relax and allow the bolster and floor to support you for 6 minutes. If you want to relax even more, drape a blanket over you.

5 seated twist Twists are a great way to transition into the world after a restorative practice. They also stretch the muscles in your core and your spine. It s a wonderful way to get blood flowing to your organs and your spine. Sit in a cross-legged position, bring your left hand to your right knee and place your right hand behind you. Inhale as you lengthen your spine and exhale as you deepen the twist. After three breaths, repeat with the right hand on the left knee and the left hand behind you. Return to center, and take a few breaths before you head out into your day!

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