We are in a hurry all the time, and restorative yoga offers us the opportunity to stop, calm down, and recharge our batteries. But there is much more to it. It helps us stay connected to ourselves. Have you tried this type of yoga? Still hesitant, or you think you don’t need it? Let’s take a closer look, and maybe everything will be more apparent.
Restorative yoga belongs to yin forms of yoga. It is a passive practice rather than an active style, such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga.
The word restore means not only to restore peace, balance, energy, but also the connection to ourselves – to our internal resources. It is kind of a restart to reconnect with our body, mind, and soul.
B.K.S. Iyengar is considered to be the founder of restorative yoga. He created a system that uses a variety of props. He wanted yoga to be accessible to everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. Another important personality is Judith Lasater. She has written several books and organized various courses to raise awareness of this style of yoga.
Depending on the equipment each yoga studio provides, when you come to a restorative yoga class, you will use a variety of props such as blocks, belts, bolsters, pillows, blankets, chairs, sandbags, and eye pillows. So far, I have not used as many of them for any other style of yoga. Props will help you set the positions the way, so you feel comfortable enough to let go and relax.
Restorative Yoga is the use of props to create positions of ease and comfort that facilitate relaxation and health.
We are in a position for a longer time to trigger a relaxation response. For example, in any variant of the Savasana position, you can stay 20 minutes or longer.
Apart from relaxing positions and many props, restorative yoga also uses gravity, which helps release tension. It is not about stretching or increasing ranges. It is about complete relief and transfer of body weight to the supportive props to open up to deeper relaxation.
When using an eye pillow, we eliminate stimuli our body responds to all the time. Thus, more profound relaxation is induced. Another critical factor is to be warm. It is good to wear socks, long pants and sleeves because if we do not move much, the body will slowly cool down. Blankets are used a lot in restorative yoga, and it is good to have one to cover yourself too.
According to J. Lasater, another essential condition is silence. But it is not always met. Sometimes the lecturer can play pleasant music. Other times interesting lyrics are read.
From my own experience, I can say that silence is lovely. Although we probably won’t find complete silence anywhere. Yoga studios are mostly downtown, and therefore, you can hear cars, people chatting on the street, and other sounds. But when we create silence, no matter how perfect it is, the goal is again to reduce various stimuli to which we respond throughout the day. Our nervous system calms down, and in consequence, the whole body relaxes.
I like to teach restorative yoga with the healing sounds of therapeutic instruments. I have noticed that most of us have a problem with turning from a noisy day into complete silence. It may be uncomfortable because we do not spend much time in silence. Our surrounding is quite loud. The use of therapeutic sounds is itself relaxing, and in combination with restorative yoga, it beautifully supports relaxation and surrender. I see it as a pleasant alternative if silence may be too much for the beginning.
Restorative yoga is active relaxation. State of complete release and surrender. The opportunity to let things be and experience the present moment. So, if you want to find out how you are doing with deep relaxation, try this style of yoga with a condition of silence.
You’ve probably heard saying that less is sometimes more. And let’s admit that many times we overload ourselves. We are not, however, made to today’s busy life, when we are overwhelmed by responsibilities and goals we want to achieve. We forget to pay attention to relaxation, but rest is a natural source of restoring our balance.
Restorative yoga helps us to slow down, gives us space to pamper ourselves, and allows us just to be. With each position, we learn the art of relaxation, which brings us a feeling of inner peace and relaxation.
When our body is supported with various props, we give signals to our body, mind, and soul that they can release deeply held tension. We can let go of deeply rooted patterns and restore healing balance.
Release and relaxation reduce stress, which is the cause of many diseases. Therefore, this form of yoga is also suitable to prevent diseases and helps in recovery from injury or illness.
The best way how to understand any yoga is to try it. Let’s start with one of the most popular positions, Savasana. It has many variations, but today we try so-called Burrito Savasana.
You will need 3 blankets, eye pillow or light scarf, mat, or you can lie down on a carpet. Total length 15+ 3 minutes. 3 minutes are for the preparation.
Set a countdown on your mobile or alarm clock. Choose a pleasant and quiet tone that will gently wake you up from deep relaxation. By taking care of the time frame, you don’t have to worry about how long you have to be in the position. Put your mobile phone in flight mode so no vibrations can disturb you.
Fold one blanket as shown below (pic. 1). Lay on the blanket so that the transition of the cervical and thoracic spine is supported (pic.2). It is the most prominent bump you will feel when you run your hand down the cervical spine.
Then sit down again, take one blanket, and wrap your legs. Tighten the blanket nicely under you to feel support when you completely relax your legs (pic. 3).
Prepare a second blanket and wrap your tights and belly. Lay down slowly and tuck the blanket nicely under your body again. Cover your eyes and place your hands to the side with palms facing up (pic.4).
Breathe deeply. Relax your whole body, and let your thoughts flow freely. Enjoy being here and now. Consciously feel of handing the weight over to the blankets that support you. Feel how you pass your weight to the ground through the parts of the body that touch it. Enjoy the feeling of being light.
Do not hurry to bring yourself back when your alarm starts gently signing the end of the session. Take your time, start breathing deeply to waken your body smoothly. Slowly move your fingers and toes, then turn slowly to your right side and sit up.
How did you like the position? I look forward to your sharing.
Have a nice day