When you’re run-down and struggling with chronic exhaustion, the last thing you’ll feel inclined to do is to get your workout gear on and exert yourself even more—however, experts say that engaging your body in restorative movements may be just what you need to give yourself a revitalizing reset.
Restorative exercises can help “release tension in your body and lower back, regulate your central nervous system, improve sleep quality, improve daily movement, increase blood flow, and calm the mind,” says Melissa Kendter, Tone & Sculpt trainer. “If we ignore our body’s natural needs for care and attention, it will let us know one way or another by not functioning optimally.”
Below are a few of the recommended exercises Kendter shared with Well+Good.
Cat-cow is a simple yet effective backbend that works to stretch and mobilize your spine. To do it, get in tabletop position by kneeling on all fours with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees in line with your hips. Activate your core as you inhale and look forward then push your stomach towards the mat. Lift your tailbone to the ceiling while lifting your sternum forward and up. Return to tabletop and, on an exhale, draw your belly button toward your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat the process as many times as you like.
If you have back problems, then this stabilizing exercise is for you. Your spine is meant to be still, so the movement targets and strengthens the muscles around it, such as your glutes and lower back.
To do it, place yourself in tabletop position and draw your belly button toward your spine to engage your deep core muscles. Extend your right arm forward and your left leg back so that both are positioned parallel to the floor. Keep your torso squared to the floor and hold, then slowly lower both limbs back down and repeat on the opposite side.
Doing this movement successfully requires concentration, so it’s a great exercise to do when you need to reset your focus.
According to Kendter, “this position opens up your hips, inner thighs, and pelvic floor, all while being low-impact, easy on the body, and improving your mobility and well-being.” To do it, start with your knees and forearms on the floor, with your knees and feet as wide as possible and the inner parts of your feet touching the floor. Sit back into your heels until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Hold for three seconds, then ease in and out of the stretch for 10 to 15 reps.
Cobra to child’s pose
Engaging your body in cobra allows you to open your chest and stretch the front of your body while strengthening the posterior chain in the back of your body. Folding forward into child’s pose helps to calm your central nervous system.
Start the movement in high plank, ensuring that your palms are directly under your shoulders, then while keeping your elbows close to your body, slowly bend them to lower yourself to the floor. Once your entire body is on the floor, push through your palms and slowly raise your head, shoulders, and chest off the floor. Focus on engaging your glutes and core while keeping your gaze straight ahead. Once you feel satisfied with the stretch, push your hips back and sink into child’s pose while keeping your arms active and long in front of you.
Having tight hips is common, especially for people who spend most of their day working at a desk. Putting yourself in pigeon can help loosen your lower body while relieving tension up your posterior chain. “Your hips are a place in the body where you store a lot of emotions and stress,” says yoga instructor Leslie Lewis. “[They] fall in line with your second chakra, which is connected to emotions. Therefore, when you hit that area of your body, you stimulate that chakra and help open it, which can let go of emotions.”
To do pigeon pose, start in downward-facing dog. Place your hands and feet on the ground, tuck your toes, and lift your hips up and back. As you inhale, raise your left leg up and then swoop it into your body and bring your knee to rest behind your left wrist, all while trying to keep your shin parallel to the front of your mat. Walk your back leg toward the rear of the mat so that you can slide your hip as far back as possible. Untuck your toes and press the top of your foot down into the mat. Ensure that your knee is wider than your hip and prop yourself up on your fingertips. If you can’t quite get your hips to rest on the ground, then place a folded blanket or block underneath you for support. Inhale and lengthen, then exhale to settle deeper into the stretch. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.