Restorative Yoga Poses

Cat/Cow – Come to all fours, with your toes curled under and a neutral spine. Place your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. As you inhale, lengthen from your hips to your armpits. As you exhale press your hands into the earth and round your spine up towards the sky. Draw your chin to your chest, and tilt your pelvis down into Cat Pose. As you inhale look up towards the ceiling, coming into Cow Pose. Move from your tailbone to your neck, tilt your pelvis upwards. Repeat this for 11-breaths, noticing how you spine feels today.

Durga Mantra – Durga is the Goddess of personal strength and courage. She is motivated by the power of unconditional love and devotion to that which is higher. This makes her undefeatable. When we invoke Durga through mantra, we are not bowing down to a goddess in the sky, but simply awakening these qualities within ourselves. Sit in Easy Pose and chant 108 times (counting on a mala) “Om Dum Durgayei Namaha.”

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Our lives are challenging, balancing work, family and social responsibilities with doing our bit for our community too. We are increasingly aware of so many issues in the world from the refugee crisis, to climate change to violence against women. We are each called to be a heartful warrior and this sequence helps us to develop strength, courage and stamina to contribute in the most loving and resourceful way possible.

Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend – Lift up through your hips and walk your feet forward towards you hands, inner hip distance apart. Place your fingertips on the earth or on blocks. Keep a micro-bend in your knees, or a deeper bend if you feel a lot of tightness. Root down through the four corners of your feet, hug your shins together, push your thighs back. Take 11 deep ujjai breaths.

Tadasana / Mountain Pose – Root into the earth with your feet and on an inhale sweep your arms all the way up the sky. As you exhale, release them to by your side. Check your feet are still inner hip distance apart, and your second toe is facing 12 o’clock, moving your feet, hug your legs towards each other, to the midline of your body. Inhale and take the tops of your thighs back. Exhale and lengthen from your tailbone down through your legs to the earth. Stay in this pose for 11-breaths.

Virabhadrasana II / Warrior II – Step your right foot back and turn so it is parallel with the edge of the mat. Line up the arch of your right foot with the heel of your left. Bend into your left knee, so that your knee is directly over your ankle. Breathe. Inhale your arms up and out to the side. Hug your feet and legs to the midline. Lift up through your right thigh. Inhale from the core of the earth and send that breath up to the core of your pelvis, back down into the earth and back up, lifting through your ribs and all the way out of your fingertips. Turn your head to face the left, looking out over your left fingers. Feel your courageous heart. Breathe 11-breaths. Release and do the

Utkata Konasana / Goddess Pose – Turn both of your feet so they are wide at a 45-degree angle. Bend your knees deeply and check that they are over your toes, facing the same direction. Bring your hands to your hips. Hug your legs towards the midline. Lift your arms up to shoulder height and bend your elbows, palms facing forward. Engage your core muscles and lengthen your tailbone down towards the earth. Take 11 deep breaths. Gently release your arms and straighten your legs.

Come to seated in Dandasana. Place your left foot by your right sit bone. Take your right foot, sole onto the earth in front of your left thigh. If this doesn’t feel good, come to Easy pose and take the twist from here. Inhale and lengthen your spine as you sweep your arms up to the sky. Exhale, place your right hand behind you, and your left elbow outside your left knee. If you are in Easy pose, bring the right hand behind, and the left hand to your left knee. Breathe into the twist, sending breath to your side-body. Take 5 deep breaths. Gently release the twist. Place your legs out into Dandasana and do the same twist to the second side.

Setu Banda Sarvangasana / Bridge – Lie on your back. Bend your knees, and place the soles of your feet onto the earth parallel to each other and hip width apart. Reach for your feet with your hands and then move them a few centimetres forward. As you inhale, root your feet into the earth, hug your legs to the midline and lift your hips up. Extend from your pelvis to your knees. Clasp your hands underneath your back and roll your shoulders underneath one at a time whilst drawing your shoulder blades more onto your back. Take between 5 and 11 deep breaths and then gently release your hips on an exhale back to the earth.

Supta Baddha Konasana / Reclining Bound Angle

Place one hand on your heart and one hand onto your belly. Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to fall out to the side. To make this a restorative pose, place a prop under each knee (this could be a bolster, blanket, or block) so that you don’t overstretch and can happily stay here for a few minutes. Feel the opening in your hips and breathe deeply allowing your body to soften into rest and digest. If well supported you can stay here for a while. All heartful warriors need to find the right balance between building stamina and resting. When you feel ready, remove the props and release into Savasana.

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