My 6 Step Sequence for Relaxation and Restoration These Holidays

Namaste Yogi,

The ‘Giving Season’ is just around the corner now!

I adore the generosity, connection and warmth of the Christmas holidays, but (and especially now that I’m a Mum…) I also find that the ‘give’ factor can be super high…

By that I mean how easy it is to become overstretched for time and energy; balance being skittled over!

One of my favourite modes of yoga is restorative practice – poses and techniques that literally give BACK to the body, mind and soul. What I love the most is how brilliantly easy AND effective these nourishing practices are and the instant relief that they offer. Seriously, you won’t know yourself after just one beautifully simple session of this nurturing sequence!

I’ve designed this sequence to cool, calm and soothe you even during the most HECTIC of holidays! It’s a great set to do right before bed for a wonderfully restful night’s sleep and just about whenever you can manage to grab 15 or 20 minutes to yourself. Believe me, I’ve been known to do this practice multiple times daily when life gets really chaotic!

So, here it is… Let this gracefully smooth and healing progression flow you through your holidays with more calm, more steadiness and more to give!

  1. Alternate Nostril Breathing – 3-5 minutes

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I adore this practice for soothing anxiety and overwhelm. It’s a simple technique, but spectacularly and immediately calming! It balances the brain and settles the soul, helping to soften stress – straight away!

  • Sit up straight in a comfortable position and close your eyes
  • Curl the 3 middle fingers on the right hand towards the palm of your hand
  • With your right thumb, close off the right nostril
  • Slowly inhale through the left nostril to full capacity – allowing your abdomen and lungs to fully expand
  • With your pinky finger, close off the left nostril and then release the thumb away from your  right nostril
  • Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril, releasing all air
  • Reverse it – inhale with the right nostril and exhale on the left
  • Complete nine full sets of breath
  • Release both nostrils, breathe deeply and notice the immediate effects of the practice
2. Child’s Pose – 3-5 minutes

Aimee Angelique Child's Pose

Option 1. Without a bolster (knees together or  to hip width apart)

Aimee Angelique Child's Pose

Option 2. With a bolster

One of yoga’s greatest calming poses, Child’s Pose (Balasana) brings you straight back to the relaxed innocence of childhood. Physically, Balasana is a beautifully gentle stretch for the lower back, chest and shoulders and it also helps to calm the mind by softly resting Arjna Chakra, the third eye, onto the floor. Spend as long as you like in Child’s Pose – let your intuition tell you how long you need here.

  • Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels with big toes touching.
  • Either gently separate the knees out to hip width or keep knees together (whatever feels best for your body).
  • On the exhale, lay your torso down between your thighs – adjust gently until you feel a broadening of your sacrum/lower back.
  • Lay your hands alongside your torso with the hands palms up near your hips.
  • Softly drop your shoulders towards the floor and allow your upper back to relax and broaden.
  • Stay as long as you like, and breathe deep!
  1. Reclining Bound Angle Pose – 3-5 minutes

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The Sanskrit name of this pose is Supta Badha Konasana, but I not-so-secretly prefer to call it Goddess Pose!

Providing a gentle stretch to the hips and inner thighs, it’s also a wonderful stress reliever and relaxant – asana heaven! On an energetic level, it helps to open and heal Svadhisthana, the second chakra that energises the yoni and reproductive organs, so is especially healing for Goddesses!

  • Sit with your legs straight out in front of you – if your groin or hips are tight, you might like to raise your pelvis slightly by sitting on a folded blanket
  • On the exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels towards your pelvis and softly drop your knees out to the sides, pressing the soles of the feet together and thereby creating a diamond shape with your legs
  • Breathe in, then exhale again as you gently lay back onto your forearms first, and then all the way onto your back
  • Rest your hands comfortably by your sides and just relax – don’t feel tempted to push your knees further to the ground. If the stretch is too much, you may like to support your thighs with bolsters or cushions
  • Breathe, chill, enjoy!

{Please note: You can choose to do this posture with our without a bolsters (or cushions) supporting your back}

  1. Seated Forward Bend – 3-5 minutes

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Option 1. Without a bolster

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Option 2. With a bolster

 A gentle stretch for the hamstrings, hips and lower back, this pose is also great for the digestion and pelvic organs, helping to massage and soothe them through soft compression.

  • Sitting with your legs straight in front of you, actively press your ankles away from you
  • On the inhale, lean forward from the hips, lengthening the tailbone away from the pelvis
  • If you can, hold onto the sides of your feet with your hands, or if you can’t, loop a strap around your feet and hold to that gently on either side (either way, keep your elbows straight rather than bent)
  • Breathe long and deep!
  • Throughout your 3-5 minutes here, you will probably find that your hamstrings release and give way for you to move forward a little more. Don’t be tempted to push beyond comfort – this does not add to the benefit of the pose. Just flow forward gently and lovingly as your body tells you.
  1. Legs Up The Wall – 3-5 minutes

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Option 1. Without a bolster

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Option 2. With a bolster

 Amazing for the circulation, lymphatic system and nervous system, this wonderful pose gives you all the benefits of more active inversions with almost zero effort! It’s also surprisingly calming to an overactive mind. 5 minutes is a recipe for bliss!

  • Place a bolster, firm cushion or a few rolled up blankets right up against the wall
  • Sit sideways on your chosen support, then exhale and in one smooth movement, gently rest back while swinging your legs up to rest straight up against the wall
  • Adjust your position so that you are full relaxed, your back is broad against the support of the floor and your legs feel comfortable
  • Find an arm position that feels great and keeps your back soft and relaxed – palms up at your sides is the best position for most people
  • When your done, gently drop your legs to one side against the wall, then relax for a moment in a loose foetal position and enjoy the benefits
  1. Savasana – as long as you can!

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The pose that allows you to completely, passively relax and absorb the restorative benefits of your practice!

Savasana isn’t quite as simple as lying down and closing your eyes though – it’s essential that your body is in a truly neutral position. Only you know how that feels, but some tips you might like to try as you gently adjust into Savasana are:

  • Lifting the base of the skull away from the back of the neck with your hands, then gently returning it to the floor, creating a little more length in the spine
  • Reach your arms to the ceiling to broaden the back ribs and upper back before gently releasing them to the floor alongside you
  • Gently rocking the pelvis from side to side to create spaciousness
  • Checking that your shoulder blades are rested evenly on the floor while gently expanding your collarbones and feeling the sternum relax
  • Scan through your body to make sure every area is softened – the eyelids, the mouth, the tongue, the facial muscles
  • When you feel truly comfortable, sink down deep and relax! For as long as you like!
  • To come out of the pose, roll softly to the right and stay here for a few breaths, then gently rise to a seated position

If you have a meditation practice, now is the perfect time to do it! Otherwise a nap, a warm lavender bath or a nourishing herbal tea are all great ways to congratulate yourself for taking the time out for self-love!

I’d love to hear how you go with this sequence – share the love and leave a comment! And while your there – are there any other yoga poses or techniques you love for the silly season? I’d love to know!

Yours in Festivity, Aimee xxx

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