A regular yoga practice is an act of self-care. Yoga is good for your physical body as well as your mental well-being. Rolling out the mat allows you to stretch and soothe the muscles and build strength, but beyond the physical aspects, a yoga practice can also help you find acceptance and peace, and let things go that no longer serve you.
Add these eight poses to your next yoga practice the next time you need a little extra self-care and are looking to let something go. If you really want to tend to yourself, find some even more love by adding a blanket and a yoga block to some of these poses.
You can do this as a sequence, or pick and choose poses to incorporate into a longer practice.
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat, legs about hips distance apart and arms by your sides to start. Press into your feet, lift your hips, and engage your inner thighs. To deepen, interlace your fingers behind your back and snuggle your shoulders underneath you a bit.
To make this pose more restorative, take a yoga block and place beneath your sacrum (the center of your low back). Don’t have a block? Interlace your fingers and center your low back on your hands. (And purchase a set of blocks here!)
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Hug one knee in toward your chest, then cross your ankle over your opposite thigh. To deepen, interlace your fingers behind the thigh of your foot that’s still on the mat and hug your knee closer to your chest. You can also extend your foot up toward the ceiling.
Come to a seat and bring the soles of your feet together, encouraging your outer legs toward the mat. Hold for eight breaths.
To make this more gentle on your hips, you can bring your feet further away from your body, sit on a folded blanket, or place a block underneath your knees. You can also do this pose lying on your back.
Come to a kneeling position and bring your hands to your low back, fingers pointing down. As you press your hands into your back, press your back into your hands to begin opening your heart toward the ceiling. To deepen, bring your hands to your feet and fully open your upper body. To modify, bring blocks next to your feet and let your hands land on the blocks.
Give yourself some extra love here by bringing a folded blanket, cushion, or pillow underneath your knees. You can also kneel on the Clever Yoga Balance Pad.
Low Lunge with Cactus Arms
From table top, bring one foot between your hands, aligning your front knee over your front ankle. Sweep your hands up toward the ceiling, then bend your elbows into cactus arms (or goalpost arms). Tug your elbows back to allow the heart to open. Repeat with the opposite leg in front.
For a little extra love, pad your back knee using a folded blanket, cushion, or pillow.
From a low lunge, bring both of your hands inside your front foot, and begin walking your front foot closer to the long edge of your yoga mat. If it’s available, you can turn your toes out so they spill off the mat, bringing your foot on a diagonal angle.
You can leave your palms on the mat, bring blocks beneath your hands, or drop down on your forearms.
Lie all the way on your belly, tops of the feet on your mat with your arms by your sides, palms facing in. Start by lifting the top half of your body, similar to Cobra, but with the arms lifted by your sides. Lower down and repeat with the legs. Lower down and repeat with the whole body.
Extended Child’s Pose
From table top, bring your two big toes to touch and widen your knees toward the outer edges of your yoga mat. Reach your hips back toward your heels.
To make this more gentle, you can place a blanket or cushion behind your knees. You can also bring your forehead to a block.