So here is a gentle restorative sequence that should leave you refreshed and, well, restored.
Before You Start:
Turn down the lights, light your favourite incense or essential oil, and put on some mellow music... I highly recommend Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach's "Loveland" for smooth, entrancing listening.
This sequence works best with the help of a few props, especially: one or more blankets, rolled up; one or more yoga blocks or big books; a yoga strap or any exercise strap or bit of fabric; and some large pillows.
Begin this sequence by lying on your back, hug your knees to your chest, and gently rock side-to-side on your sacrum (the hard part on your lower back). Hold each pose for as long as you like - I recommend at least 5-10 long, slow breaths in each pose.
• Happy baby pose (Keeping your feet close together, let your knees come apart and gently pull your knees towards your shoulders. Then, keep your knees bent and raise your feet up towards the ceiling. Either keep holding the thighs orgrasp the bottom of your feet from inside, and gently pull the feet towards you)
• Supta padangusthasana I (Bring your left foot to the ground. Loop your yoga strap around your right foot and gently lift the right leg towards you.)
• Supta padangusthasana II (Grasp both ends of the strap with your right hand and slowly let your right hip open up, lowering your right leg to the right hand side. Place a block or pillow under the right foot, and look back out over your left shoulder.)
• Repeat on the left-hand side, then come to sitting.
• Seated Twist (Bring your right hand to the left knee and twist gently to the left side, then do the other side)
• Cat and Cow, 5-10 rounds (Come to all fours. On an inhalation, let the lower back curve downwards and look up, on an exhalation curl your back upwards and bring your chin to your chest).
• Downward Facing Dog (optional. Can also be done with your head resting on a block, OR your hands resting on a chair for a more restorative version).
• Supta kapotasana (reclining pigeon - from Down Dog, inhale, stretch the right leg behind you, and then exhale and bring the right knee forward between your hands. Exhale, and slowly lower yourself forward and down. After 10-25 breaths, inhale up to centre, step back to Down Dog, and repeat on the left-hand side).
• Paschimottanasana, supported (Come to sitting, with your legs together. Place a rolled-up blanket under your sitting bones, and another under your knees. Place one or more pillows on your legs. Inhale and stretch gently forward, exhale and rest your head and torso on the pillows for 10-25 breaths).
• Baddha Konasana, supported (Inhale back up to sitting. Bend the knees, bringing the soles of the feet together. You can loop a yoga strap around your feet and then back around your sacrum, tightening it to ease the stretch. You can also place pillows or yoga blocks under your knees).
• Upavista Konasana, supported (Bring the legs wide, and bring a yoga block or a bolster/pillow in between the legs. Inhale and reach forward, exhale and rest your torso and head on the pillows.)
• Janu Sirsasana (From upavista konasana, bring your right foot to the inside of the left thigh. Place the rolled-up blanket under your left knee, and a pillow over your left leg, and then gently stretch forward over the extended leg, resting on the pillow. Repeat on the other side.)
• Supported Bridge Pose (Lie on the mat with your knees bent. Inhale and gently lift up your hips, placing a yoga block underneath your sacrum for support. Keep your spine lengthening, and breathe deeply and evenly into the belly.)
• Half Shoulderstand (Before you begin, lie in the middle of your mat and place a chair or yoga block at the head end of the mat. Place a folded blanket under your shoulders. Inhale, lifting your hips up and supporting your hips with your hands. Let your legs stretch behind you, leaving you balanced and light in this pose. See my previous restorative sequence post for more details!)
• Plough Pose (From shoulderstand, bend the knees slightly and let your legs come down behind your head. Rest your feet on the chair or yoga block.)
• Fish Pose (Gently roll back to the mat and come to sitting. Place a yoga block or small pillow in a way that it will support your upper back. Gently lean back onto the block so your back and shoulders are supported but your head can hang back.)
• Supta Baddha Konasana (Lying down, bring the soles of your feet together. You can prop your head up on a pillow and support yourself with pillows or blocks under the knees. Close your eyes and turn up the music!)
• Savasana (Indulge in a long, restorative savasana for best results).