Restorative yoga is a restful practice that focuses on slowing down and relaxation. This is often done through breath work, stretching and long holds of asana poses. If you take a restorative class, you may hardly move at all, doing just a few postures over the course of an hour.
Restorative yoga is a completely different experience than most other styles of yoga. This is a great way to help manage stress.
What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a great practice for any level. By definition, restorative yoga is a restful practice that holds yoga poses (asanas) for longer than a typical yoga flow while using props (yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters). Restorative yoga emphasizes deep relaxation of the body and mind, helping you move towards Samadhi - the union of body and mind. Through the use of props, a person can reach a deeper element of support as they connect to the earth and their breath.
When the body enters a state of relaxation, the mind can also consciously relax as tension is released from both body and mind. The only work that's required during a restorative yoga practice is to pay attention to your breath and become aware of any sensations or thoughts that may arise. Then using tools prompted by the instructor, letting those things go that you are holding onto, allowing your body and mind to move into a deeper and more relaxed state. Restorative yoga poses are held anywhere from 5–20 minutes.
The following are a few examples of asana poses during a restorative class.
This position allows the heart to be raised while the shoulders fall to the side.
Open the Shoulders
Instructors can gentle put pressure on the shoulders, helping the yogi recognize the stress they are still holding in their shoulders and then take a deep breath and let it go.
Relax the Muscles
Focusing on the breath can help the muscles relax a little deeper with each exhale.
Lower back twist, using props for support.
Lower back twist can be lower or higher depending on the need.
Note the arm support.
Supported child's pose.
Using a bolster to support the lower back.
Leg up the wall. This allows the blood to flow towards the heart, making is a very relaxing experience.
Supported pigeon pose. Lift the hip by placing a blanket, block or bolster under the hip.
Supported pigeon pose. You can use a bolster to place your head and arms on for support.
Upper thigh stretch with supported bolster.
Open the inner thighs.
Using knee support.
Forward fold stretch, using block and bolster for support.
Blanket can be placed under the head or neck.
Bolsters can be a great way to gently stretch the upper and lower back.
Blocks can be used for support.
Using a chair can also be a great way to lift the legs while placing your glutes on a bolster.