Restorative Yoga

by | Aug 17, 2022 | Nurturing Your Practice

Restorative yoga is just one of many forms of yoga and is often confused with Yin yoga. Restorative yoga is a lunar practice of no sensation. When we practice restorative yoga, we are looking to find a deep level of rest and props are utilized heavily to support this goal. Yin yoga, on the other hand, is a practice of sensation. The purpose of yin is to create appropriate stress in the joints to promote healing. Props in yin are used to ease the practitioner into more sensation over time. Ultimately, a restorative yoga class is meant to leave the practitioner feeling supported, rested, and energized. 

Yoga props are a huge factor in sequencing restorative yoga. We utilize props to create an environment of no sensation by using them to support all parts of the body in each pose. In fact, you might end up using all of the props that a studio or practice space has to offer. Blankets are a favorite for restorative yoga as they can be used for many different functions. The practitioner can cover up for a sense of warmth or even a sense of grounding. They can be folded or rolled to create lift or cushion where some might be needed. For example, you might fold the blanket up and place it under the knees if taking savasana. You might find sandbags in a restorative yoga class, as well! Sandbags can provide a feeling of groundedness when placed on the low back in child’s pose, or across the legs in supine twist. Chairs are also a prop that are highly useful for restorative yoga. If students don’t have bolsters or blocks at home, they most likely have a chair. Props can allow space for the practitioner to fully release, allowing the muscles to relax and be held by the weight of the sandbag. The practice of learning how to prop themselves up for a restorative pose is a great mirror for our yoga off the mat. In life, we want to be able to meet ourselves where we are in each moment and sometimes this involves a sense of problem solving just as with getting settled into a restorative posture. 

In a 60 minute restorative yoga class, you might move through 2 – 3 poses. It can take a while to get propped up and settled into each pose, especially to find the sweet spot of no sensation, that holding a pose for five minutes only feels rushed. Instead, the long hold times allow space for everyone to find their way into the pose and get comfortable, changing their minds as much as they need by inviting in more or less props. Then, once settled into the pose, it can take a couple minutes for the nervous system to calm enough to find a sense of peace. Because the goal of restorative yoga is to, well, rest, the long hold times really encourage a state of release and ease. A 90 or 120 minute restorative session allows for more postures to be included while still holding for long periods of time to encourage rest. Poses that might be utilized in a restorative yoga class include child’s pose, wide legged forward fold, bound angle pose (seated and supine), supine twist, and many more. 

Restorative yoga can be done at any time of day. It can be a nice practice to ease one into the hours of rest in the evening. It can also be a nice way to reset in the middle of the day and come back feeling rested. Restorative yoga is for everybody. To give restorative yoga a try, check out the My Vinyasa Practice live stream classes

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