Sometimes, we just need a reset. In moments when we feel the need for some quick care and love, we can turn to yoga as a resource. A lot of the time, when we think of yoga, we think of sweaty bodies clad in tightly woven lycra and hot and heavy flow workout routines. I want to help you change the definition of yoga.
Yoga means to ‘yoke’, or rather, to unify. When we feel stressed, overwhelmed, or disconnected, yoga can help realign and harmonize our minds, bodies, and spirits. The best part is that your yoga can be personalized in a way that best suits and supports you. In reality, not many people have 60 minutes to set aside for a full yoga class, and that is okay. I don't want this to stop you from finding the support and care that you need, and that this practice could lovingly provide.
Today, I want to share with you 3 of my favorite beginner yoga poses that can help to replenish and restore your nervous system, leaving you feeling calm, supported, and cared for. I describe these yoga poses as ‘one off’ poses, meaning that they can be done all by themselves, OR together in a sequence. This means that you can stop, drop, and yoga anytime you begin to feel the need for some self care. Spend 2 minutes or 20 on these simple poses, it is all up to you!
Simple, one-off Yoga poses to soothe and restore you:
Rag Doll Fold:
Low back release, spinal traction, neck and shoulder tension release
Start standing tall with your feet hip width apart. Gently bend the knees and begin to fold over from the hips towards the floor. Fully surrender and allow your body to hang. Bend the knees deeper if necessary, and feel free to grab your opposite elbow to further lengthen the spine and allow release through the neck and shoulders. You can gently sway side to side if that feels good for deeper low back release. Hold this pose for at least 30 seconds and no longer than 2 minutes (if you’d like to practice this pose longer, come fully back to standing upright before refolding). To release the pose, bend the knees deeply and press the feet firmly into the earth as you slowly roll up to standing, one vertebrate at a time. Take a moment to reset once standing upright to avoid a head rush.
Heart opener, chest stretch, shoulder release
Start in tabletop position: hands under shoulders and knees under hips with a neutral spine. Do your best to keep the hips generally over the knees, though it is natural for them to shift slightly forward. Take small steps forward with the hands until you feel ready to begin sinking the heart down towards the floor. You can rest your head on the mat, or if the forehead is not able to touch the floor, feel free to rest it on a block or pillow, or even allow it to hover. Breathe deeply as you feel the chest, shoulders, and underarms stretching and opening. Hold for at least 1 minute and up to 3. To release, firmly press the palms into the mat to lift the chest and head, then walk the hands back towards the body and slowly come out of tabletop.
Butterfly Fold/ or Reclined Butterfly
Hip opener, lower back release, inner thigh stretch
For the Butterfly Fold, start in a seated positions and bring the soles of your feet to touching, with your heels at least a few inches away from the groin (feel free to create more space for yourself here, as the closer you draw the heels in towards the groin, the deeper the inner thigh and hip stretch will feel). Hold onto the ankles or feet and hinge forward from the waist, melting into your version of the forward fold. You can place a pillow or block underneath your head here as you rest and stretch.
For Reclined Butterfly, begin by lying flat on your back and bringing the soles of your feet together, Feel free to place the hands on the inner thighs to assist in pressing the knees towards the floor- this is ONLY if you want a deeper stretch. For a gentler experience here, you can place blocks or pillows under the knees to give them more of a lift and to prevent the hips from falling open to far. Hold this pose for at least 2 minutes and up to 5. To release, carefully close the knees and lengthen the legs.
These short and sweet poses are here to support you and guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, supported, and soothed. Remember, when in doubt- stop, drop, and yoga!