Tough day? Try this calming, restorative yoga routine to naturally lower your cortisol levels and fight the aging effects of stress.
Many of us suffer from chronic stress. We struggle to manage a never-ending to-do list under constant connectivity and stimulation.
Whenever we start to feel stressed out, our stress hormone cortisol gets released by the adrenal glands. This system was originally designed to help us run from predators, but since today’s “predator” is typically your boss, a deadline, or too many commitments, there is nowhere to run and hide. This means that there is no relief from stress, so cortisol continues to flood the bloodstream.
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In order to help us escape perceived danger, the release of cortisol shuts down other vital systems of the body, like the digestive, immune, and reproductive systems. This means that if you don’t find a way to get those stress levels under control, over time this influx of cortisol can lead to belly fat, low fertility, poor digestion, high blood pressure, and even premature aging.
Stress is destructive to the body, so it’s crucial for your health and happiness to keep it under control. Restorative yoga can help you to do that with relaxing, supported poses that bring the body back into a rest-and-digest parasympathetic state, and encourage deep relaxation and mindfulness.
Turn to these yoga poses during times of stress to quickly lower your cortisol levels, or do it right before bed for a restful night’s sleep. This routine is best performed with a bolster or pillow, 2 yoga blocks, and a yoga mat.
6 Restorative Yoga Poses To Lower Cortisol & Slow Aging
Supported Child’s Pose | 2 mins
This calming pose helps to bring the body into the rest-or-digest state, quickly decreasing cortisol levels.
- Place a pillow or bolster down going vertically up and down your mat. Kneel down in front of the pillow facing it.
- Sit your hips back onto your heels, bringing your knees out wide and keeping your toes together.
- Slowly walk your hands forward to lower your belly, chest, and one cheek onto the pillow. Relax your forearms on the mat on either side your pillow. Close your eyes and relax here for 2-3 minutes. Switch to the other cheek halfway through.
Supported Bridge | 2 mins
Lifting into a bridge helps circulate blood towards the brain, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Keep your bolster nearby.
- Reach your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down. Walk your feet closer to your glutes so that your knees are stacked over your ankles.
- Lift your hips up and slide your bolster horizontally underneath your sacrum. Rest your hips back down.
- Straighten your legs down the mat, letting your toes fall out wide. Lie with your palms facing up, close your eyes and relax for two minutes.
Note: If this feels too intense on your lower back, keep your knees bent with your feet on the ground.
Supported Reclined Butterfly | 2 mins
This feel-good restorative pose reduces cortisol, reawakens the digestive system and opens up the chest, shoulders, and hips that often become tight when we get stressed out.
- Position your bolster vertically up and down your mat behind you.
- Bring the soles of your feet all the way to touch and then let your knees fall outward. Place one block underneath each thigh to support your hips.
- Slowly lower your back and head onto the bolster. Your hips should stay on the ground the entire time.
- Reach your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax here for two to three minutes.
Supported Wall Straddle | 2-3 mins
When cortisol overtakes the bloodstream, our digestive and reproductive systems shut down. This restorative pose reawakens these systems by reversing blood flow towards those vital organs.
- Bring your mat to the edge of a wall and keep your bolster nearby.
- Sit with your legs parallel to the wall, then roll back and slide your legs up.
- Bend your knees and press your feet into the wall to lift your hips. Slide the pillow underneath your sacrum.
- Extend your legs straight up the wall. The closer your hips are to the wall, the deeper the stretch in your hamstrings. Lie with your palms facing up.
- Slowly open your feet outward to come into a straddle position. They don’t have to go too far, just enough to feel a stretch through the inner thighs and groin. Close your eyes and find a natural breath. Allow the muscles of your face to relax and hold for two to three minutes.
Supported Spinal Twist | 2 mins per side
This gentle twist releases tension around the spine and hips, relieving stress and anxiety, and lowering cortisol levels.
- Place your bolster vertically up and down your mat, and lie sideways in front of it, with your right hip next to the pillow.
- Twist your torso to face the pillow and place your hands down to frame it. Walk your hands towards the top of the mat to bring your torso to rest on the pillow. Rest your right cheek on the bolster.
- Close your eyes and hold for two minutes, then switch sides.
Supported Savasana | 5 mins
Also known as Corpse Pose, savasana allows your body and mind to completely relax and release stress.
- Lie on your back with the bolster supporting your knees.
- Reach your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, find a natural breath. Release every muscle in your body and allow yourself to completely let go.
- Hold this pose for five minutes or longer.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Yoga Poses to Naturally Lower Cortisol and Lose Belly Fat, Too!)