This is the first in a series of short blogcasts about finding healing from the many facets of yoga. Listen here or read more below.
Restorative yoga is a practice that encourages you to move slowly and mindfully through only five or six poses. It was termed “restorative” since it prepared the body to move into positions that allow the muscles to relax by allowing your body to be fully supported by props like bolsters, blocks, and blankets. The poses you do in restorative yoga should not be unfamiliar to you, the only difference is that they are supported by props and held for short spans of time. Legs up the wall, corpse, pigeon, child’s post, standing and seated forward fold, etc. Props are used to support the body and allow you to sink into the postures without hesitation, so your muscles are not required to hold you and you can truly find rest.
You are instructed to hold each posture for about five to ten minutes on average, allowing yourself to switch sides and stretch in between postures. For the active mind, it can be very challenging to just stay and hold a posture for so long. I personally never loved holding poses and found it difficult to relax or close my eyes. I would eventually resign myself over to the practice usually by the third pose and by the end of the class walk away so relaxed that I had to sign-up for the next class.
Depending on the type of stress I had during the day or week, I would either only sign-up for the restorative class or choose to do a more active flow class beforehand. Like a meditation practice, set yourself up for success by having some active mental/physical exercise prior to the restorative class. If you are recovering from illness or injury, a restorative practice is a very gentle way to ease your body back into a practice. If you suffer from anxiety, stress, or migraines, joint issues, hormonal imbalances, restorative yoga can be a useful toolkit to add to your yoga toolbox. There are many different styles of restorative yoga out there, so it is important for you to explore the style and type of class that allows you to feel comfortable and find the most rest. If you don’t have time for a class or aren’t finding a great match, a home practice may be a good option for you. I would recommend starting out with a one-hour weekly practice or a 20 minute daily practice perhaps before bedtime.
As a special thank you to you, I am including a restorative yoga home practice which introduces using essential oils, 100% FREE to you.
Until next week,
Judith Hanson Lasater PhD, PT, also lovingly known as the mother of restorative yoga, has written several books to guide practitioners through the uses of the poses and how to mindfully setup each posture. Her foundational background in Iyengar yoga, physical therapy, and physiology is reflected in these poses. In her popular restorative yoga books she covers the everyday practices as well as specific practices for those with special situations like anxiety, postpartum, pregnancy, back pain, depression, fatigue and stress.