Simple Yoga Poses to Restore the Body and Mind

Let Jan Johnson, LifePower department head at the Life Time Fitness club in St. Paul, Minn., guide you through these relaxing and restorative yoga postures.

  • forward fold
    Basic Forward Fold

    Basic Forward Fold is a pose that helps release lower back tension. Start by sitting on your mat or the floor and shift your body forward. Rather than thinking about stretching, just think about leaning forward and simply allowing your body to release. Stay in this position anywhere up to 4 to 6 minutes. If you find yourself sitting more upright, take cues from Jan’s Supported Forward Fold (next slide).

  • supported forward fold
    Supported Forward Fold

    If you feel more comfortable sitting more upright on the forward fold, grab a blanket or a small pillow to elevate your hips. Don’t be concerned if your head doesn’t touch your legs. Jan says you’re still getting benefits by simply rounding your back.

  • swan pose
    Swan Pose (chest lifted)

    Start on your hands and knees. Walk your hands forward and simply slide your right leg under left (or left under right). Move your right knee so it’s pointed toward your right wrist. Come onto your toes with your left leg to shift your weight onto your left thigh (to keep the pressure off your knee). From this position, gently rock yourself backward so your torso is upright into the Swan pose (shown here). You can then ease your way down into Sleeping Swan (see next slide), or remain upright for a few minutes.

  • sleeping swan
    Sleeping Swan (lowering to the ground)

    If the body is ready, willing, and able, begin to fold forward to the floor to release more into the pose (see next slide), lying all the way down on the floor. Jan says you can certainly bend your knee and allow your body to roll to either side. Your back leg does not have to remain straight.

  • Sleeping Swan
    Sleeping Swan (lowered to the ground)

    When completely lowered to the ground, Sleeping Swan allows gravity to do the “work” to gentle open the hips. Jan advises not to force yourself into the pose. Instead, she says to relax and allow your body to find its own accommodations in order to soften around the pose.

  • butterfly
    Butterfly Pose

    A great hip opener, you might typically see this pose done lying on your back. But Jan shows us how to do it upright (shown here) to get the same benefits. Start by shifting your hips slightly so you’re body is aligned facing forward. You can hold the pose here with the spine upright to feel a good release in your hips.

  • butterfly pose
    Butterfly Pose (Variation)

    From the upright position, simply slide your hands under your legs, all the way to the elbows, if possible, and breathe deeply. Jan recommends this pose not only to open the hips, but also to calm the body and mind.

  • childs pose
    Child’s Pose

    Jan suggests using this pose to center and ground yourself when you are feeling off-centered. Start by sitting on your heels and open your knees fairly wide apart. Walk your hands forward. Keep your legs spaced wide enough so you have room for your torso. Your toes can touch or be separated slightly.

  • A woman performs the sphinx pose.

    From Child’s Pose, you can move right into this back-bending pose. Shift your weight forward and lie down on your belly. Plant your hands on the ground and separate your legs to evenly distribute your weight to release any pressure along your spine. Placing your forearms on the floor, simply prop your chest up without pressing or forcing yourself to lift any higher than your body naturally lifts. Depending on your flexibility (everybody is different), you can turn your hands to the corners of the map and straighten your arms (see next slide).

  • seal pose
    Seal Pose

    Jan notes that this pose helps alleviate any low-back tension because of the gentle nature of not pushing or striving for anything. If you notice your gluteal muscles tightening, just take notice and soften everything, she says. From here, you have the option to lower yourself all the way down and take rest by folding arms under your head (not shown) to complete this Yin yoga sequence.

  • shelves with yoga mats
    Yoga for Everyone

    If you’re eager to learn more about yoga and discover a practice that suits you, read Yoga 4 You, and visit our Yoga/Mindful Movement section.

Click Here for More Yoga Poses

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