Restorative Yoga: Is It For You?
Restorative yoga serves up the chance to slow down and stress the Yin as opposed to the Yang. It may sound boring to some yogis, but many have learned to love the healing and rejuvenating powers of slower paced yoga classes.
What Is It & Where Did It Come From?
Restorative practices become popular in the United States during the 1970’s with the teachings of Judith Lasater.
Over the years, this style of restorative practice has grown in popularity because it offers many benefits including the reduction of mental stress.
What Happens During Class?
Restorative poses are held for much longer periods of time as compared to typical yoga poses during flow based yoga classes. Typically, restorative postures can be held for 3 to 5 minutes or even longer depending on the instructor. Because poses are held for longer periods, virtually every restorative class will make use of yoga props. Yoga props make it easier and less stressful on the body to hold postures for longer periods of time, therefore allowing the body and mind to restore, relax and renew.
Some props you may encounter in class include yoga blocks, straps, pillows, bolsters, and blankets. These props will greatly aid you in achieving the feeling of being fully supported while on your mat.
Restorative classes are generally longer in length and can last up to a couple of hours in some cases.
Benefits of Restorative Classes
As mentioned earlier, these restorative practices are almost instantly beneficial for our parasympathetic nervous system. As a matter of fact, the parasympathetic nervous system is sometimes referred to as the “rest and digest” system. These types of yoga practices can help stimulate this system to slow our heart rate, breath, and help promote intestinal activity for better digestion.
Because of its ability to promote our parasympathetic nervous system, restorative time on the yoga mat acts to achieve balance with the sympathetic nervous system which is sometimes called the “fight or flight” system. Fight or flight refers to our body’s way of responding to danger. Obviously, if we experience “fight or flight” too often it can be unhealthy. Restorative classes help to create balance between these two important parts of our nervous system.
Yoga Props For Restorative Classes
The bolster is a common prop that you will find in most yoga studios and many use the prop during restorative classes. Bolsters are basically oblong pillows that can be placed under the back, shoulders or head to help provide support. This prop can also help to open the chest and lengthen the spine. Bolsters are much like body pillows, but more firm. Students may also use bolsters in prenatal yoga classes. The most common postures combined with bolsters are gentle backbends and forward folds.
Yoga blocks are widely used to help students achieve proper alignment which is essential in avoiding injuries. Blocks are very useful in allowing a yogi to practice a pose without straining beyond their current abilities. Blocks basically raise the floor. In restorative classes, blocks could be used to provide support in certain postures like Bridge Pose by providing back support.
Straps like most yoga props are also used for support. However, straps also provide an extension of the arms. Straps allow you to reach further without straining. By wrapping a strap around the arms or legs, this prop can be used to prevent the legs or arms from sprawling apart from one another in certain postures.
Blankets may be the simplest of all yoga props. Naturally, blankets are used for support and comfort. If needed, blankets can be folded over to create firm support. Chances are, any home blanket will suffice as a yoga blanket. In a restorative class, a blanket may be used for nothing more than adding a little cushion to your yoga mat.
Common Restorative Poses:
Legs Up The Wall
Supported Reclining Bound Angle
Supported Seated Forward Fold
Supported Bridge Pose
Preview Of A Restorative Class