Child's pose is a calming and restful yoga asana.
The mind-body practice of yoga overlaps with the modern concept of fitness in many ways but also offers benefits beyond burning calories and strengthening muscles. Health experts today recognize yoga as a method of counteracting the negative effects of stress and tension. While the overall practice of yoga enhances relaxation, some types of yoga poses have an especially calming effect.
In a high-energy, exercise-oriented yoga class, yoga teachers usually lead students though calming poses at the end of class, after a series yoga poses that involve more physical challenge. Toward the end of class, the teacher may have students do some slower, cooling down poses such as seated forward bends and reclining twists before moving into Savasana, or Corpse pose, for a period of breathing and relaxation before the conclusion of class.
If you prefer a class that focuses exclusively on calming yoga poses, you may want to take a restorative yoga class. Restorative yoga classes tend to involve the full range of yoga props available in a yoga studio. Straps, blocks, blankets, bolsters, chairs, sandbags, eye pillows and even walls are used to support the body during this type of class. A teacher trained in this type of yoga can instruct students on how to fold blankets and place props to relax more deeply into each pose. A restorative yoga teacher will usually have students remain in each pose for several minutes. Most restorative classes include the passive inverted pose Legs Up the Wall, as well as others such as Child's pose.
Yoga teachers emphasize the importance of breathing in all types of yoga classes. Yoga breathing exercises, known as pranayama, help deepen the calming benefits of yoga poses. Dirga pranayama, or three-part breath, is one of the best exercises for beginning yoga students seeking to deepen their relaxation. To practice this style of breathing, inhale deeply through the nostrils, drawing the breath toward the base of the lungs to create a sensation of the belly expanding. Continue to inhale so that next the diaphragm expands. Draw in still more breath so that the area beneath the heart seems to lift. Exhale slowly through the nostrils, releasing the breath from the top of the lungs downward. Continue with each breath to fill the lungs from the bottom upward, then to slowly release the breath from heart to diaphragm to belly.
A yoga teacher who specializes in therapeutic yoga can choose calming yoga poses specifically designed to heal specific ailments students may have. For example, some yoga poses have a strong beneficial effect on specific health issues. Seated forward bends can ease both lower back pain and PMS. Seated twists can benefit migraine sufferers. You may want to find a teacher who offers private or small group classes so you can receive more individualized attention in learning calming yoga poses you can use to ease chronic pain or other health challenges.
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