Yoga and meditation traditionally go hand in hand. Both are ancient practices united by a focus on the breath—one through flowing with movement, and the other through stillness. But in the modern world where we’re constantly being stimulated and pressed for time, finding inner calm isn’t quite so simple. The key, according to yoga teacher and lululemon ambassador Annie Clarke, is tuning in to what you need.
“When we’re used to rushing around, complete stillness is so stark by comparison that we resist it. That’s why for many, an active yoga practice is a more accessible way to reach a meditative state,” she says. “However, finding stillness can be deeply powerful if we just allow ourselves to let go.”
With that in mind, we asked Annie to share five of her favourite and most accessible restorative poses that are easy to do, even if you’ve never tried yoga or meditation. If you can, try and remain in each pose for at least one minute (six is ideal) to truly relax and find a deep sense of calm.
0.1 Child’s pose (Bālāsana)
Start on your knees, taking them as wide as the mat and bring the big toes to touch. Walk your hands forward, fold at the hips and rest your forehead on the ground or mat (if it doesn’t reach you can place a cushion there to support your head). Allow the belly and hips to soften into the pose, using your breath to release tension. You can also make this more of a back body stretch by bringing the knees closer together to create more flexion in the spine.
The benefits: the contact between the forehead and floor encourages a shift into the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces our heart rate and sends signals to the body to relax.
02. Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you (you can keep a bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight), then hinge at the hips and fold forward over the legs. Place a bolster or cushion under the forehead to encourage your upper body to relax into the pose.
The benefits: this pose stretches the back of the body and has a grounding effect. When we feel held and supported, we’re more likely to relax and let go.
03. Pigeon pose (Ardha Kapotasana)
Place one shin in front of you (as parallel to the front of your mat as is comfortable) with the opposite leg extended back and fold forward—use props to support your head and hips if they don’t reach the mat. You should feel a stretch in the glute of the front leg and a release in the hamstring.
The benefits: this pose stretches a large muscle group—mainly around the hips where we tend to store emotional and physical tension, so this is a powerful way to release that. Breathing deeply here encourages tension to pass through the body.
04. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Lie on your back, close your eyes and create space between the legs, the arms and sides of the body with your palms facing upwards. If there’s tenderness in the lower back, place a bolster or cushion under your knees. Take a big breath in and as you exhale, completely soften the body releasing any muscular tension.
The benefits: with our busy lives, this is often the pose that we skip most—but we really shouldn’t. When there’s a surrender of body and mind, we encourage our energy to flow freely and the connection with the ground helps us feel supported.
05. Seated meditation pose (Sukhasana)
Sit cross-legged (if this is a struggle, raise your seat with a block or cushion to support your hips, or find a chair), rest your hands on your thighs and lengthen your spine. Then close down the eyes, try and keep still, and focus on your breathing. The key is making sure you’re comfortable so that you can sit for several minutes without distraction.
The benefits: this is a really accessible pose that encourages stillness and brings your awareness to your breath—the perfect start and end point to traditional forms of meditation.