Surrender to Serenity: Restorative Yoga, Family Circle Magazine

by Joanne Van Zuidam  

The demands of daily life build tension in our bodies. Restorative yoga counters tightness by allowing us to be completely still and let go. Jillian Pransky, creator of relaxmore, guides you through this serene series. Stay in each pose for 5 to 15 minutes, finding comfort, not strain, in each posture. When done, roll onto your right side in a fetal position before slowly sitting upright.

Reclining Goddess
Benefits: Opens the hips, groins, front of chest and abdomen.
How to do it: Stack 2 to 3 pillows lengthwise and sit at the edge. Rest upper body on pillows. Bring feet together and let knees open to sides. Place 2 pillows under each knee for support. When done, bring knees in and roll to right side, slowly sitting up.

Child's Pose 
Benefits: Increases flexibility in the back, neck, hips and knees. Calms the nervous system, helping to relax body and mind.
How to do it: Stack 3 to 4 pillows lengthwise and kneel at the base, sitting on your heels. Keeping your big toes together, separate the knees a little more than hip-width apart. Pull pillows toward you and lower upper body onto the pillows. Turn head to one side. (Halfway through the allotted time, turn head to opposite side.) Close eyes. Feel the back expand with each inahle; on the exhale allow your body to sink into the cushions. When done, slowly return to sit.

Sublime Side Lean
Benefits: Stretches torso and provides a gentle twist, releasing tension in the lower back.
How to do it: Place 2 or 3 pillows lengthwise. Lie on the right side with hip at the base of pillows and torso resting on stack, right arm under head. Bend the left leg and let it rest in front of the extended leg. The left arm can reach over head to increase the stretch. Close your eyes and allow your body to relax and release any tension. Slowly sit up and switch sides, resting for the same amount of time. 

Assisted Bridge
Benefits: Opens the chest and abdomen to improved breathing and digestion. 
How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift butt and slide a thick telephone book under the base of your spine. Find a comfortable position, then let upper back release on floor. Arms are relaxed at sides or resting on belly. Feel chest and belly rise with each breath. When done, gently remove brook from under you.

Supported Straddle Bend
Benefits: Gently releases tension in the hamstrings and lower back. It also helps to promote a sense of security when feeling anxious.
How to do it: Sit facing the seat of a chair and open legs to a wide straddle. Feet are flexed with toes pointing to the ceiling and kneecaps facing up. Inhale and reach the arms up, lengthening your spine. Exhale and reach your torso and arms forward placing your forearms on the seat. Rest your head on your hands. (You can place a small pillow on the chair if it does not have a cushion.) When finished, slowly return to situ upright.