The purpose of Restorative Yoga is to allow the release of any tension existing in the body with the help of props and longer holding of poses. While other types of yoga, such as Ashtanga, are more centered around heat building sequences, restorative aims to replenish the mind and body through slow and simple postures. The holding of the poses typically last longer than a normal pose in a vinyasa based class, lasting around 5 minutes.
Restorative yoga is meant to do exactly that; restore through aligning the mental and psychical through the practice of stillness. This type of yoga is different but appealing because the intention is to be more aware of the mindful state and less on the psychical. The energy that is usually expended in a “flow” class is utilized in a restorative class to focus the mind on letting go of any tension or stress anywhere in the body. The intention of a restorative class is to offer a more healing type of relaxation that is usually overshadowed in a more dynamic yoga style. The breath is meant to be deeper which soothes the nervous system and cultivates more self-awareness.
A lot of times (like most things in life) we think we have to push to the extreme with the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Restorative yoga brings more of the connectedness and mindfulness to the present moment and can be practiced by anyone, especially for someone who is recovering from an injury or high-stress environment. It also brings specific attention to any area in the body where you may be holding tension and are not aware such as the jaw, wrists and belly. Props used in a restorative class can include: blocks, bolsters, straps, blankets and pillows. Blocks can be used under the legs to release any tension that may arise in a bound angle pose while using a strap around the torso and tops of the feet. A block can also be placed under the lower back in a legs up the wall pose to allow for a release in the sacrum.
Restorative yoga invites you to be your own guide and be gentle with yourself through slow, mindful movement and breath. In the fast paced environment we live in today, having a relaxing practice is essential in finding a balance of mind, body and spirit.
5 Restorative Poses for Relaxation:
1). Child’s Pose
2). Reclined Bound Angle
3). Supine Pigeon