7 Restorative Yoga Poses for Balance of Body, Mind, Spirit
With Rheumatoid Arthritis it is really important to try and have a daily exercise practice. We encourage movement through yoga as this can truly help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Restorative Yoga allows our Body, Mind, and Soul to unwind and creates internal peace and awareness. It is a slow practice that nourishes the body and allows it to deeply relax in postures that are often held around 5 minutes or more.
Just waking up and taking the first steps out of bed in the morning can be extremely painful for RA sufferers. Through movement and exercise the joints can ease in discomfort and slowly gain more flexion. These calming yoga postures also allow the body to move away from the fight or flight mode associated with incessant pain and step into an inner calm and a refreshed state. This calmer state in turn helps to improve digestion, which is heavily compromised in most people with RA. Note – for digestion healing, we suggest starting with our free email training to reverse the underlying cause of RA
It is important to realize the difference between pain in your body or an intense stretch so it is essential to release or step away from a pose if it is causing your pain or discomfort. Generally speaking, if a joint is warm or inflamed then it may not react well to compression of any kind so just proceed with caution. Once you become accustomed to how your body feels in these postures you will be able to adjust accordingly. With a restorative practice you can reduce inflammation, regain movement in your joints, lower your blood pressure, calm your heart rate and nervous system, and bring balance to the body.
No matter your level of experience in yoga these 7 Restorative Yoga Poses will ease tension, melt stress, and balance your energy to leave you feeling open and at peace. They will allow you to connect with your inner Self and bring clarity and serenity to the mind. The mind has such a powerful force and it will often whisper things that are not encouraging but remember that YOU can do it and will be able to enjoy your yoga practice. If you are unsure of trying a practice at home there are many restorative yoga teachers that provide classes in which they can provide variations of poses that will be comfortable for your joints and body.
Setting the Space
I recommend finding a clean, bright, and open space in your home to practice in. It helps to use the same space on a regular basis as it will give a consistency to your practice and a great energy to the space. Playing soft and gentle music really helps me to sink into my restorative practice and helps me drift throughout the poses without too many distracting thoughts from the mind. (i.e. Have I held the pose long enough? I used to be able to do this pose and now I can’t! What’s wrong with me? Does this yoga thing really work, wouldn’t it be easier to rest on the couch? Oh, this is too much – I can’t lay still!) I would suggest listening to Sacred Earth for music that helps create inner peace. Light a candle if you wish and set up your yoga mat and yoga props. Don’t worry if you don’t have some of the yoga props you can always improvise with rolling a few towels instead of a bolster.
I urge you to use yoga props. They are beautiful tools that give your body support and allow sweet release into tight and painful joints. Props support your body and allow you to set up a strong foundation and in time deepen into a posture. There is no eyes watching you and how many props you use! They are gentle friends that give you support in your practice and help your time on the mat. If you don’t have yoga bolsters or blankets it’s easy to take a peak into the linen closet and roll up a few home towels or blankets. Below is a list of props that you might like to use in your restorative practice.
- Yoga Mat
- Blanket (sometimes you may wish to use 2 blankets)
- Block (sometimes you may wish to use 2 blocks)
- Eye Pillow
Throughout our restorative practice begin to focus on your breath and close your mouth, breathing through the nostrils. Focus on deep inhales and nourishing exhales which will aid in calming the body and leaving you feeling refreshed. Always come back to the breath once you are set up in your posture. The breath gives us our ‘prana’ or vital life force and it helps to cleanse and nourish the body. At any time in your day if you come back to the breath and for a few minutes focus on taking deep inhales and nourishing exhales it will calm your body and mind.
7 Restorative Yoga Poses
1) Extended Balasana (Extended Child’s Pose) – Beautiful resting pose, brings calmness and awareness to the body. Aids in stretching the lower back muscles and buttocks.
*Please be mindful of the knees
*Pregnant – take knees hip width apart and place a bolster underneath the chest for support
- Sit towards the back of your mat, buttocks to heels. If any tension in your knees, place your folded blanket between your buttocks and calf muscles as you sit back to provide a cushion and support.
- Hinging from the hips bend forward until your chest is resting on your knees and gently rest your forehead on the floor. Feel free to rest your head on the block, or create two fists and stack them to rest the head on, if it does not reach the floor.
- Extend your arms forward so they are straight on either side of the body with palms facing flat on the floor.
- Gently roll your forehead from side to side on the floor to melt away any tension. Hold for 3 minutes.
- To release, inhale looking forward and exhale gently walking the hands back by your sides and come to a seated position upright.
2) Adho Mukha Virasana ( Down-face Warrior Posture) – Beautiful resting position, aids in stretching the groin and great flexion in the hip joints, stretches the lower back.
*Please be mindful of the knees
- Sitting towards the back of your mat, big toes touching together, open your knees apart to the outer edges of your mat.
- Rest your buttocks on your heels (if needed please use your blanket between your buttocks and calf muscles for support).
- Place your bolster vertically between your legs, snuggling one end towards your groin.
- Inhale looking forward and opening the chest, Exhale keeping your buttocks on your heels and walk your hands forward, hinging from the hips and rest your chest and upper body on the bolster.
- Turn your head to the right for 3 minutes, remembering to breath, and then turn your head to the left for 3 minutes, remembering to breath.
- To release, inhale looking forward and exhale walking the hands back by your side and sitting upright.
3) Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby) – Great pose for opening the hip joints, releasing the lower back, and stretches the hamstrings. It helps to relieve stress and calms the body and the mind.
*Please be mindful if you have a knee injury
*Please be mindful if you have a neck injury and roll a blanket to place underneath your head for support if needed
*Ensure to keep a straight spine
- Lay down supine (back to mat) on the mat
- Bend your legs, knees to chest, and open the knees wide and down towards the armpits
- Ensure to stack the ankles over the knees and take your hands to gently hold onto the outer edges of your feet
- Pull your feet gently towards the floor as you feel this juicy stretch. Remember to breath and aim to release your lower back towards the floor so the entire spine is resting on the floor.
- Hold for 1 minute and then release your feet to the mat, and take a few deep breaths. Repeat if you wish!
4) Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) – Beautiful inner groin stretch, relaxes the mind and nervous system, allows energy and blood to flow through the pelvic area, and improves the digestive system
*Pregnancy – please use an additional bolster to lift you on a higher inclination underneath the main bolster
*Please be mindful of knee injuries and back pain. To support your knees place a block or rolled blanket underneath each knee if needed.
- Place your bolster long ways on the mat, sit about a hand distance away from the top of the bolster in Baddha Konasana (sitting tall with soles of the feet drawn together and knees gently opening to the sides)
- If you would like you can use your strap to place around your lower back, between the knees, and around the tops of the feet. The strap should be taught and buckled to the side so it is not on your feet or digging in your hip. Please keep the strap in place around your lower back.
- Slowly start to recline and lower onto your elbows for support, and then lower your back onto the bolster.
- Place your arms on either side of the body with your palms facing the sky
- Keep the soles of the feet together, tuck your chin towards your chest which will help to lengthen your spine, and if needed for neck support you can place a blanket underneath the head
- Enjoy this resting posture for about 5 minutes and remember to breath. Feel free to place your eye pillow over your eyes as you rest deep into the posture.
5) Ardha Matsyendrasana 111 (Lord of the Fish Pose or Seated Spinal Twist) – This is a beautiful posture for twisting and rinsing out the spine of toxins. It rejuvinates the spine and gently massages the internal organs and is excellent for the digestive system.
*Please be mindful of your knees (ensure to keep your bottom leg straight)
*Please be mindful for any back or spine injuries
There are 2 variations for this pose an open twist and a closed twist. Practice the open twist if your are pregnant, menstruating, have a sore lower back, or would like a gentler practice. Practice the closed twist if you would like a deeper twist.
- Fold your blanket in half and sit your buttocks on the smooth folded edge (this will give your lower back support and tilt the pelvis forward)
- Keep left leg extended and sitting tall and bend the right knee placing the right foot alongside the left knee. If comfortable pull the right foot over the left leg placing it on the outside of the left knee.
- *Open Twist variation – sitting tall, place the left hand on the floor behind the body, finger tips facing behind you. Hook the right elbow to the inside of the right knee. Inhale, lift and lengthen the spine. Exhale, twist the spine and start to look over the left shoulder. Hold and take 5 deep inhales and nourishing exhales. Repeat on the other side
- *Closed Twist – sitting tall, place the right hand on the floor behind the body, finger tips facing behind you. Raise the left arm and place the left elbow to the outside of the right knee. Inhale, lift and lengthen the spine. Exhale, twist the spine and start to look over the right shoulder.
- To release, inhale look forward and exhale release the body from the twist.
- Variation – if you have tight hips feel free to use your block and place the block behind you flat on the floor rest the hand on for support in the twist
6) Viparita Karani (Fountain of Youth or Legs Up the Wall Pose) – Awww, this is a beautiful pose that I always love to do whenever I have a few minutes to spare. A relaxing and restorative pose that calms the nervous system, eases muscle tension, relieves fatigue and stress, helps with lower back pain, and is a cooling posture that lowers the blood pressure. I highly recommend adding this pose to your day to allow the days stresses to melt away.
*Pregnancy – raise the torso on a bolster and avoid lying flat
- Move your yoga mat to the wall
- Sit facing the left side of your mat with your right hip to the wall.
- Pivot around and lie down on the mat flat, and raise your legs up the wall
- Ensure that your buttocks is resting on the mat and touching the wall if possible
- Keep your feet and heels together, with the feet flexed back and the legs active
- Allow your arms to lay by your sides with the palms facing up or rest your hands on your tummy
- Melt your shoulders down to the earth, and tilt your chin towards your chest to lengthen the spine
- Close your eyes and if you like place your eye pillow gently over your eyes
- Focus on your breath with a deep inhale and nourishing exhale
- Variation: Open legs wide to form a ‘V’ shape against the wall and hold for 1 minute. This will give you a lovely and supported (by the wall) stretch of the inner groin
- Hold for 5 minutes and release by tucking your knees down towards your chest and slowly rolling to your right hand side, your left hand can help push you to a seated position.
7) Savasana (Corpse Pose) – Ideal for sealing your yoga practice and allowing the full benefits of all of the poses you have just done flow through your body. Rest your body and still the mind and allow any remaining tensions to melt away. Savasana helps to balance and calm the nervous system and most importantly helps to create inner peace.
*Pregnancy raise your head and chest on a bolster
- Lay down back flat on the mat, have your bolster handy to slide horizontal underneath your knees. This will help ease any tension in the lower back.
- Place your eye pillow gently over your eyes and rest your arms by your side, palms facing towards the sky
- Allow your feet & hands to relax, fingers & toes to relax, and take a deep inhale and nourishing exhale to release any lingering tension
- Allow the floor to support your body and relax the whole body on the mat
- Give yourself as much time as possible in savasana (approx 5 – 10 minutes)
- When you are ready to release gently bring awareness back to the body and allow the fingers and toes to wiggle, bringing gentle movement back to the body
- Take a deep stretch bringing the arms along the floor and over your head, lengthening the body, then roll to the right hand side and gently come to a seated position
Enjoy these 7 Restorative Yoga Poses and I hope they bring balance to your body, mind, spirit, and help to cultivate your inner peace!
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for a qualified yoga instructor. The author is not a medical doctor and is not responsible for any consequences regarding your use or intended use of any information provided on this site. Always check with your medical professional or seek out a trained yoga instructor in person.!