Restorative Yoga: The Slow Yoga Arts

Posted by in Paths Of Yoga

As a yoga teacher, I get asked a lot about all the kinds of yoga that make you sweat, but few new students inquire about restorative yoga. Until they break a bone or tear a ligament or need a hip replacement, then suddenly, their ego sufficiently beaten down, they humbly show up at a restorative class. If the class is popular, they will be greeted by long term asana junkies, and other yoga teachers, since it usually takes a few years on the yoga journey before one gets hooked on “assisted napping”. Students who take their first restorative class due to injury, rarely cease to continue once they are healed. If a vinyasa flow class leaves you feeling like you smoked the yoga joint, then a restorative class is like hitting DABs. You will never turn back.

It all started with BSK Iyengar, the most type-A alignment stickler in yoga history. He loved props and used them all in every class, so it was only fitting that he would get into the prop rodeo that is restorative. In most classes you will need: at least one block, a bolder, strap, and a blanket. If you are true restorative junkie, you double all that and add an eye pillow, plus you brought a cozy sweater and some thick socks or slippers – yes, I get down exactly like that. The idea here is to create a foundation with your props to recline and soften into various shapes and poses with ease. You should be totally passive, your body doing absolutely no work for each posture.

So what’s the point of this creamy lucid napping and why would you pay money to lay around for an hour and a half? Restorative yoga brings energy back into the body – energy you lost by stressing out, working, walking, scrolling through instagram, shopping, going to the gym, parenting and other forms of expenditure. We spend way more time putting out energy than bringing it in. Most people don’t even sleep 8 hours a night which is really just a recommended minimum. Restorative yoga will help make up for some of that lost sleep and has a plethora of benefits: stress relief, injury rehabilitation, help with insomnia and other sleep issues, recovery from athletic training, work life, it’s good for pregnancy, and it will help your body to slow the aging process. You heard me, it makes you hotter. Restorative yoga relieves the pressure which we spend all day building up on repeat.

A Basic Class:

A Restorative Yoga class is 90 minutes. Sure they have shorter ones out there, but don’t take those. 90 minutes is the minimum you’re looking for. It takes a bit to settle in, let go of the day and get all propped up. You need this time. Usually a class consists of about 5 postures held for 10-15 minutes each with a long Savasana at the end. There are lots and lots of props and the music and lighting is all very low. Bring comfy clothes as meditation usually lowers your body temp and you get cold.

Restorative yoga is the most accessible form of yoga and can be done by pretty much anyone, this is a great class to go to with your parents or with anyone who has never done yoga.

Basic Postures:

Reclined Bolster Twist – 1 bolster, 1 strap

Good for the spine and brings circulation around your spinal discs, helps with digestion and elimination (laymen’s terms: twists are good for constipation).

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Reclined Bound Angle Pose – 1 bolster, 1 blanket, 1 long ten-foot strap

This is a restorative back bend and hip opener, it re-establishes your lumbar curve, improves circulation to the pelvis, is good for menstrual cramps, and calms the mind.

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Supported Bridge – 1 bolster or 1 block

It’s the most common backbend in all yoga classes and restorative is no different. It open the front of the hips and extends them, it also helps balance the hormonal system in the body.

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Supported Childs Pose – 1 blanket, 1 bolster

It’s a restorative forward bend which relieves tension in the back and hips, calms the mind, and feels hella creamy.

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Supported Savasana – 1 bolster, 1 blanket

Savasana is the mother of all postures. All of the work of your practice comes to your body in savasana. All the benefits are there and it’s the most difficult posture to master since totally letting go is near impossible.  The benefits are total mind and body rest, and it brings healing to all your tissues.

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Featured Image: Jillian Pransky