Restorative Yoga Poses for Anxiety (Free PDF)

My mom likes to remind me of a story from when I was five and I was very passionate about animals. (Took me until I was 20 to become a vegetarian, though.) One day, I decided I was going to start a club to save the animals. Which ones? I don’t know. Just all of them. My tiny self made business cards on Microsoft something-or-other advertising a Save the Animals club meeting, at recess, on the playground.

No one showed up. I cried to my mom, who reminded me that while the business cards looked great, no one in the class could read them.

Bit out of touch with my audience.

Maybe my failed attempt to Save the Animals stuck with me. Before any party or event that I host, my heart rate speeds up and I’m overcome with the fear that no one will show up. This familiar feeling reared its ugly head as I swept the patio and got ready for my Couchsurfing meetup yoga classes. I had posted the event on Couchsurfing and Facebook, inviting travelers and the handful friends I’ve made in Brisbane to practice a 45-minute flow at my house outside of the city.

My anxiety had been squeezing my heart all day Monday before the class. Icky feelings from a panic attack the night before were still hanging around, and I had the day off, which meant my three-days-until-my-paycheck butt was stuck sitting around my house until 6 p.m. I asked Couchsurfers and event attendees to let me know if they were coming, just so I was sure that I wouldn’t be stuck looking at an empty patio. As I waited for responses, I turned to yoga. Surprise surprise.

Once my playlist ended and I slowly rose from my Savasana, I felt great. I was reminded of how much of a difference yoga has made in my life,  and got excited to share the flow with whoever wanted to show up. Throughout the practice, I let go. I let go of expecting anyone to show up. As much as I love yoga, and gravitate toward friends at home who also practice yoga, not everyone is on the same journey where yoga is a priority and a regular practice. I separated myself from the idea that the class was for my benefit. Teaching yoga is about sharing this practice with others, helping them along their journey, wherever that may be. If the journey doesn’t include going to a stranger’s house on a Monday evening, so be it. But if it does, I’ll be here with a Frank Ocean playlist and the invitation to grab a drink afterward.

I still felt relieved when I received messages saying that people were going to show up.

I taught the class to three Couchsurfers and my coworker. I was super nervous, the flow wasn’t perfect, and I threw in a breathing exercise at the end of the flow because I thought I had less time on the playlist, then realized I had more time than I thought. Even as I stumbled through instructing a posture or realized I had completely forgotten to do one of the poses on my list, I was so grateful that I was teaching in the first place.

We had a beer and some laughs afterward, and I woke up to a message from another Couchsurfer who heard about the flow from two of the attendees and wants to come to the next one.

My heart is happy. I’m teaching a morning class next week, and maybe no one will show up. Maybe four people will show up. Maybe one person will show up. But whoever shows up, I’ll be there for them, to hold space and offer hugs and lead them through this amazing practice.

But why wait until next week? Here’s some poses that helped me through my anxiety as I was waiting for the class to start. Enjoy!

Restorative Yoga Poses with PDF and Playlist!

Download a full-size PDF here.

More yoga to share! Enjoy these poses when you need to relax and unwind. While I’m backpacking, I don’t have access to many yoga props, but I highly recommend grabbing some blocks and blankets to assist you in your practice.

Read a guide to yoga props here.

Take the poses at your own pace, and skip any that don’t feel absolutely lovely. If headstands are not in your practice, use that time to come back to Child’s Pose.

Keep this Headstand Prep Flow in your back pocket for a later date.

Below is a playlist that you can use with the flow. I typically do a pose or stay on one side of a pose for the length of one song. If you squeeze both sides of the supine twist into Girl From the North Country, you’ll be in Savasana by “Hallelujah” and no one will notice if you shed a lil’ tear.



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