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What is Restorative Yoga?
Yoga promotes calmness and peace, but if you are after a restful practice, the most suited style would be restorative yoga. It is done through passive stretching that opens your body as it slows you down.
Restorative yoga only requires limited movements. A typical restorative yoga class lasts for an hour, with only a few postures needed to be done.
If you are already familiar with the common styles of yoga, the transition will be easier since restorative yoga uses pose adapted from standard yoga classes. You can visit our restorative yoga class here for more. Let’s help by listing what you need to know about restorative yoga practice.
Definition of Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga performs asanas longer than usual and with the help of props, including bolsters, blankets, and yoga blocks. This restful yoga practice can be done by beginners to pros.
Restorative yoga focuses on the mind and body union, which is yoga’s meditative aspect. The props help in executing poses effortlessly.
Restorative practice releases tension from your mind and body. This makes it easier to consciously relax as your body goes into a state of relaxation.
As you fully relax your entire body and mind, you need to be aware of any thoughts and sensations you may think or feel as your progress with the restorative yoga practice. As you perform restorative poses, pay attention to your deep breathing and relaxation response.
Western yoga focuses greatly on acrobatic, aerobic, and athletic yoga styles. The movements engage your muscles, upper body, legs, and whole body, depending on the yoga style.
For example, in vinyasa yoga classes, whether the yoga practice is done at home or in a yoga studio, you will transition from one pose to another. It will help you improve your flexibility, strength, and heat over time.
Yoga styles with more energetic movements will engage your muscles. On the other hand, restorative yoga gently stretches while relaxing your muscles. This is done with the help of yoga blocks, folded blankets, an eye pillow, and other yoga props that support your muscles and body parts.
In restorative yoga, practitioners usually hold poses for longer periods of five to 20 minutes. Since the movements require low energy, you can make the poses a meditative exercise to lower blood pressure, alleviate anxiety symptoms, manage blood pressure, restore balance, and more.
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
Yoga offers many benefits for your whole body, including mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It can deal with chronic pain symptoms, improve cardiovascular and respiratory functions, and enhance flexibility, stability, and strength.
Yoga effectively boosts mental health. It improves the quality of your life by making it easier to get a good night’s rest and excellent sleep quality.
You can get the same benefits from doing restorative yoga. Here are the topmost benefits of those who have tried restorative yoga:
Gentle on the legs, muscles, internal organs, and whole body
The limited movement of restorative yoga practices makes them gentle on all areas of the body, inside and out. They are also safe for your joints. It can help strengthen the connective tissues around the joints and bones through time.
Restorative yoga and other forms of yoga have been proven effective in managing musculoskeletal pain.
According to research, people going through mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, can manage their moods better with the help of yoga. Restorative yoga allows you to experience emotional relaxation while the movements gently stretch your muscles and joints.
Restorative yoga benefits your whole body and overall well-being. The practices and passive poses relax the body while relieving stress and leading you toward deep relaxation.
It teaches you about deep breathing, which effectively deals with stress hormones. You will have a lower risk of high blood pressure.
Restorative yoga poses benefit your nervous system, including your parasympathetic nervous system or sympathetic nervous system. Similar to a yoga practice, the benefits of restorative yoga last for an extended period. With continued practice, it is easier to age gracefully.
Restorative yoga offers deep and quality sleep, which you can obtain even without an eye pillow. With relaxed muscles, as you slowly lower your body in bed, you will have an easier time dozing off and staying asleep through the night.
Getting enough rest each night will make you feel recharged upon waking up. It makes restorative yoga beneficial to your body, including bones, rib cage, and muscles, but most of all, it benefits your mental, emotional, and overall being.
There has been clinical research done on restorative yoga. It found out that attending a restorative yoga class or performing this kind of yoga at home is beneficial to people with cancer.
Restorative yoga offers supreme relaxation that cancer patients will benefit a lot from. It boosts their psychological health, which makes it easier for them to deal with pain symptoms, depression, and anxiety.
Props to Use for Restorative Yoga
You will extensively use props in doing restorative yoga poses. The props will support your muscles, bones, and body so that you can hold each pose longer.
Restorative yoga poses are usually adapted from seated yoga or supine yoga postures. To ensure your body won’t get strained, you will use props, such as a folded blanket or folded blankets, bolsters, and blocks.
The props you will use depend on the restorative yoga poses. Here are some samples:
Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclined Goddess Pose
When adapted as a restorative pose, you can support the back of your pelvis with a bolster lengthwise to aid your spine. Use a rolled-up blanket to gently bind the soles of your feet together.
Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend
To make this a restorative pose, put a number of folded blankets or bolsters above your legs. This will make it easier for you to rest your upper body on the props as they support your forward bend.
Restorative Yoga Poses
There are many yoga poses you can adapt as restorative yoga poses. Here are some of the poses and explanations on how to use props to practice deep rest while performing them:
Savasana or Supported Corpse Pose
Place a rolled-up blanket or bolster at the backs of your knees while doing this resting pose. You can cover your eyes with an eye pillow and warm your body by covering it with an additional blanket.
Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose with Support
Place the shorter side of the yoga mat near the wall, and then position a bolster five to ten inches away from the wall or even farther.
Add a folded blanket on the mat. You will rest your lower back on the bolster with another blanket supporting your spine. You can allow your arms to extend and relax on the sides.
Supta Matsyendrasana or Supported Reclined Twist
Place your feet flat on the floor, and your knees bent while lying on the yoga mat. Use a bolster between your knees and inner thighs. You can also support your cervical spine by placing a partially rolled blanket beneath your neck. This will help prevent neck pain during the pose.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge Pose with Support
Keep your feet hip-distance apart, and your knees bent as you lie on the mat. Put a yoga block under your pelvis to support your tailbone.
Balasana or Supported Child’s Pose
Support your torso with two or more stacked blankets when doing a child’s pose. Put them in between your inner thighs.
You will sit back from a tabletop position, make your knees wider, and bring your toes closer. You can also support your ankles with an additional rolled blanket placed under the tops of your feet.
Restorative yoga consists of poses adapted from typical yoga postures. The poses are done longer with props to support your body throughout the process.
It’s effective in making you feel calmer and more composed. But if you are a beginner in restorative yoga, you must ensure a pro guides you to make the process effective and safe.
This is the expertise of Sweatbox Yoga, a top-of-the-line boutique yoga studio in Singapore. Take a yoga studio class with us to broaden your horizon about yoga and all its forms, with experienced teachers at the helm of each session.