Restorative yoga is an incredibly powerful practice for those looking to bring more peace, balance, and healing into their lives. It’s a gentle and slow-paced type of yoga that focuses on relaxation and restoration of your mind, body, and spirit. It’s all about helping to create a sense of harmony within the body and to promote healing on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Through the use of specific postures and props, practitioners can experience profound relaxation and a deep sense of inner peace.
This comprehensive guide will explore the many benefits of restorative yoga and provide an overview of the different practices. Whether you’re new to yoga or an experienced practitioner, you’ll learn how to use restorative yoga to bring more balance and harmony into your life.
What is restorative yoga?
Restorative yoga is a type of yoga that is specifically designed to induce deep relaxation in the body, mind, and spirit. It can be done lying down, sitting in a chair, or even standing. Its focus is restoring the natural balance to the body, mind, and spirit and creating space and stillness within the nervous system. It’s an excellent practice for those looking to bring more peace, healing, and balance into their lives.
Restorative yoga is usually done in a reclined position on a mat or yoga blanket that allows the body to be fully supported by the floor. It’s a great practice for those new to yoga and looking for a slow-paced, gentle, and meditative way to experience the benefits of this practice.
Benefits of restorative yoga
These are some of the many benefits of practicing restorative yoga.
Reduced stress and anxiety – Restorative yoga is a beautiful practice that can calm the nervous system, lessen stress and anxiety, and bring more balance to the mind. It’s perfect for those who are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or are in need of a little extra relaxation in their lives.
Deep relaxation and restoration: Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing practice that helps to restore and rejuvenate the body and mind. It’s perfect for anyone feeling tired, stressed, or exhausted and needing to slow things down.
Improved flexibility and strength: While restorative yoga is the perfect practice for beginners, it’s also great for those with more experience looking to deepen their practice. As you hold each posture, you’ll experience a deeper stretch than you would in a more active yoga practice. This can help improve flexibility and strength while also increasing your ability to relax your muscles and connect to your breath.
Increased self-awareness – Another benefit of restorative yoga is increased self-awareness. Whether you’re new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, this practice has the power to help you become more in tune with your body, mind, thoughts, and emotions.
Better sleep: Practicing yoga regularly can help you sleep better. It can help you to relax, reduce stress, and quiet your mind so you can let go of your worries and feel more at ease.
Types of restorative yoga
There are many types of restorative yoga practices, each with its own benefits and focus. Here are a few of the most common types of restorative yoga practices.
Supported restorative yoga poses – Supported restorative yoga poses are performed in a reclining position using yoga props such as blankets and blocks. This allows you to completely relax your body and mind and experience a sense of deep inward stillness.
Reclining restorative yoga poses – Reclining restorative yoga poses can be done in any position that is comfortable for your body. This includes lying on your back, on your side, sitting in a chair, or standing.
Foundation restorative yoga poses – Foundation restorative yoga poses are done in a seated position using yoga props such as blankets and blocks. This helps create a sense of stability and support, allowing you to feel grounded and connected to your body.
How to get started with restorative yoga
Although there are many beautiful benefits to practicing restorative yoga, it’s important to know that it’s not for everyone. This practice can be incredibly beneficial for those new to yoga, looking to bring more healing and stillness into their lives, or experiencing physical or emotional pain. It can be a gentle and slow-paced practice that is perfect for beginners and those looking for a more relaxed way to experience the benefits of yoga.
However, restorative yoga is not for everyone. Those new to yoga, especially those with high levels of stress or anxiety, may benefit from a more active yoga practice. Find a teacher or instructor you trust and feel comfortable with. Beginners especially will benefit from having an instructor who will guide them in their practice. They can help you find the right posture for your specific needs, offer guidance on how to deepen your practice and help you gain a deeper awareness of your body, mind, and emotions.
What to expect in a restorative yoga class
Restorative yoga classes can vary, but they generally follow a similar flow. You may begin with some quiet meditation and breathwork to help calm your mind and relax your body. You’ll then move into restorative yoga poses, usually done in a reclined position with yoga props. This helps to support your body and create space and stillness within the nervous system.
Many teachers will also teach students how to self-apply the yoga poses, allowing them additional tools to take their practice home. Some classes may also include sound therapy, like music, gongs, rhythms, and singing bowls, to further promote an open and receptive state of mind. Others may include guided visualizations, like a “healing journey” or “guided imagery,” to help you explore your thoughts and feelings, release negative emotions and connect to your true self.
Props used in restorative yoga
Yoga blanket or mat – You can lie on a yoga blanket or mat when doing restorative yoga poses. This provides a soft, sticky surface that helps you to stay grounded and connected to the floor.
Yoga blocks – Yoga blocks are used to support your body when doing restorative yoga poses. They are great tools for beginners, helping to bring more awareness and focus to your practice.
Bolster – A bolster is a long, wedge-shaped pillow placed behind your knees, legs, and back when doing restorative poses. It helps to create more space in your spine and supports your body in a comfortable position.
Blanket – A blanket can be placed under your knees when doing restorative yoga poses. This helps to bring more support and softness to your practice.
Straps – Straps can support your arms and hands if you are practicing restorative poses that involve holding your arms above your head. They can also be used to support your ankles when doing poses on your legs.
Creating A Restorative Yoga Sequence
Here are a few restorative yoga sequences you can try on your own or with a partner or friend.
The restorative bridge sequence – This sequence focuses on bringing energy up from the floor and releasing it out through your upper body.
- Start by placing your yoga blanket or mat under your knees and gently pressing your knees towards the floor to release the hips and back.
- You can then lie down on your back with your feet on top of the yoga blanket, slightly towards the knees, and your arms by your sides. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, bringing your attention to your breath and each inhale and exhale.
- Finally, you can place your hands on your heart and bridge up into a bridge pose, bringing energy up from the floor and releasing it through your upper body.
The restorative yin sequence – The yin poses are a wonderful way to relax, calm, and restore your body and mind. Restorative yin poses are all done close to the ground. There is no vinyasa, standing postures, or flow.
- For this sequence, you can lie on your back on the yoga blanket with your feet towards your head, arms beside your body, and knees bent.
- You can then slowly move into yin poses.
Examples of yin restorative yoga poses-
- hip openers
- seated forward bend
- supine twists
- supported backbend
- child’s pose
Creating a yin yoga sequence is excellent practice for beginners, especially those dealing with chronic pain, who are new to yoga, or looking for a more relaxed and gentle way to experience the benefits of yoga.
Restorative yoga is a beautiful practice you can do to bring more peace, healing, and balance into your life. It’s a gentle and slow practice that can help you ground yourself on the most stressful days.