10 Restorative Yoga Poses to Release Tension

Updated February 5, 2018

Restorative Yoga Poses


Restorative yoga relies on supportive props and simple poses held for a long time to lower stress and promote deep relaxation. savasana or corpse pose is the ultimate restful pause. Mentally direct your body to relax from your toes to the top of your head as you let go of tension.

Child's Pose


Child's pose is an almost fetal position as you rest, face down, on your shoulders, head, knees and shins. Extend your arms down along your sides and release shoulder stiffness. Or stretch your arms forward, in front of your head on the floor, to stretch your spine.

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose


Reclining bound angle is dreamy with supports but can be painful without them. Lie on your back, arms out loosely to the sides, soles of the feet together, knees bent, and thighs open. Relieve pressure on your hips, knees and lower back by tucking a folded blanket under each thigh or under the knees so your legs can gradually sink to the sides without stress.

Happy Baby Pose


Happy baby will make you smile, relaxing tension in your face as the pose loosens stiff muscles all over and gives a gentle stretch to the arms, shoulders, legs, and back. Lying on your mat, bend your knees. Bring your legs to your chest, grasp your toes with your fingertips, and lightly extend the legs upward, rocking side to side slightly to relax into the pose.

Knees-to-Chest Pose


Go right into supine knees-to-chest to relieve tension in your digestive organs and relax your lower back. As you lightly hug your bent knees, pulling them in toward your chest, stretch your spine long on the mat and close your eyes. Rock side-to-side gently, if it helps to deepen the stretch.

Legs-up-the-Wall Pose


Supported legs-up-the-wall is the mildest inversion pose, and it's practically effortless. Place your thick folded blanket or soft bolster about five inches from the wall, just under your sits bones and pelvic area. As you lie, legs extended up and resting against the wall, experiment with adjusting the support until it's perfect. Then allow your arms to fall easily out to the sides and check your back to see that it feels tension-free and comfortable. Breathe deeply and give yourself over to the pose.

Sleeping Vishnu Pose


Sleeping vishnu opens each side of your body, relaxing tight intercostals and promoting full, easy breathing. Lie on your right side, legs extended, feet lightly flexed, head supported by right hand or resting on extended right arm, left arm and hand in front of you on the floor for stability. Breathe slowly and evenly for one to three minutes. Then reverse sides and repeat.

Reclining Hand-to-big-Toe Pose


Reclining hand-to-big-toe uses a yoga strap to ensure a good stretch without tension. It releases tight hamstrings and soothes an aching back. Lay face-up on the mat, legs extended, head on a thin folded blanket. Bend your left knee, bring it into your chest, wrap the strap around the left instep, and hold it with both hands. Push your left leg toward the ceiling, right leg long into the mat. Walk your hands up the strap to full extension, keeping the strap tight on the leg. Breathe for a few minutes, release the strap, hug the knee to the chest and switch sides.

Fish Pose


Supported fish pose opens your chest and lengthens your spine. Place a folded towel under the top of your shoulders and neck for comfort, and support the back-bending arch of the spine with a bolster or yoga block just under your shoulder blades, beneath the middle back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the mat if extended legs are uncomfortable.

Reclining Twist Pose


Reclining twist pose gets the kinks out with a feel-good supine twist. Just lie on your back, draw your knees into your chest, drop your arms out to the sides like wings and softly lower both bent knees to one side. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the sensation. Keep both shoulders on the mat. Bring the legs higher (towards your head) or lower to adjust the stretch. Hug your knees to your chest, roll to your flat back, and change sides.

Take It Easy


Restore mind spirit and body with easy pose. Sit on a spine-aligning cushion and crisscross your legs in a simple meditation posture. Fold your hands into prayer position or rest them gently on your knees or thighs and focus on your breathing. Meditation clears and renews your messy mind and Easy pose is aptly named. Restorative yoga should refresh you from the inside out, so pamper your spirit as you de-stress your body.

10 Restorative Yoga Poses to Release Tension