What is restorative yoga?
Restorative yoga is a practice of bringing quiet to the body and mind. You use props to support the body which allows the muscles, fascia (connective tissue) to gentle release and let go of habitual tension.
Why is it important to practice it?
We spend the majority of our lives getting stressed and tense and not moving regularly. For downtime we exercise furiously, we go out drinking, meet friends or watch television late in to the night, the activity we skip on, to fit in work and play is often sleep and rest. Your body and mind are forgiving when you are young but as you get older the lack of rest and focus on doing takes it toll.
A daily 20 minute restorative yoga practice will set up the conditions to allow rest, digestion and healing to happen.
I haven’t got time to practice it every day as I need to fit in my exercise classes and my life!
Add in restorative yoga to your toolkit, you need to restore and balance just as much as being active. A regular restorative yoga practice will not only enhance the rest of your life but by listening in to your body, you will be more in tune with it and able to work with your energies rather than fight them.
I haven’t go the kit how do I get started?
You can wrap two pillows lengthwise on a blanket, wrap it tight, tie it up with a dressing gown cord or similar and you have a bolster. You can use cushions instead of blocks.
I am not good at starting things on my own,where can I go to practise?
OR you can try these poses at home to bring a little calm and peace into your life.
Lie on the floor with your legs bent and the calves up on the sofa, make sure your sit bones are up against the sofa. Your arms are out in a cactus shape ( elbows bent and lower than shoulders and the back of the hands on the floor). With every exhale feel the muscles in the back soften and release a little bit more.
5 minutes in this pose is a reviving tonic for the whole system as blood from the lower body is circulated with a little help from gravity to the heart and head, instantly reviving and refreshing you.
Viparita Karani or legs up the wall pose
Simple version: You can also put your legs up the wall – make sure your sit bones are as close to the wall as possible your legs are vertical and allow a little softness at the back of the knees. Your head, ribs and pelvis are on the same plane.
Using support: Use a bolster or 2 blankets folded lengthways and stacked on top of each other to give you support. Place the bolster lengthways about 5 inches away from the wall and roll onto the bolster, shuffle your sit bones towards the wall so that they head down into the space between the bolster and the wall. Your pelvis is supported by the bolster. The front body is arched in a gentle backbend from the pubis to the throat and the shoulders are on the ground.
Why you should: This is a great pose for relieving the symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and plane travel, mild depression, digestive problems, migraine, headaches, varicose veins, soothes menstrual cramps, gives you an energy boost and aids breathing. This pose helps to relieve tired or restless legs and feet. It stretches the back of the legs, the front of the body and the back of the neck and helps to calm the mind.
Why you shouldn’t: avoid if you have glaucoma, neck or back issues.
Balasana or Child's pose
Simple version: sit with your knees wide and your big toes together and send your bottom back behind you until your sit bones sit on your heels. Use a cushion in between your sit bones and heels if your bottom doesn’t reach the heels. you can have them arms forwards with the elbows on the floor or bend elbows and stack one hand on top of the other and rest your forehead on the stacked hands or with the arms back behind you – see what feels easy.
Supported version: Sit up against a bolster, with your knees wide, the inside of thighs rest against the bolster and your big toes are together, shuffle up until your pubis is resting against the end of the bolster. Using your hands on the floor to support you, lay your front body down the length of the bolster. Turn your head to one side and allow yourself to widen across the skin on your back on an inhale and as you exhale soften the belly and your outer edges. Breathe here for 5 mins and then slowly turn the head to the opposite side and stay here for another 5 mins.
Why you should: Child’s pose allows you to turn into yourself protecting the vulnerable part of the body at the front where the organs are. This pose gently stretches the hips, thighs and front of ankle and in the supported version you are stretching out the neck as well as soft tissues of the back.
Why you shouldn’t: Avoid if you have diarrhea of are pregnant or have knee issues.
Eye pillows offer a range of benefits from not only keeping out the light but also a little light pressure on the eyeballs stimulates the oculocardiac reflex kicks in when a gentle pressure is applied on the eyeballs and this in turn lowers the pulse. Try these poses with a light eye pillow to gently go a little depper.
Try this calming breath with these restorative poses for maximum effect.
Calming breath - 2 to 1 breath
This breath pattern where the exhale is twice as long as the inhale calms the nervous system.
Get into a comfortable position where the body feels completely supported and the back of the head, the back of the ribs and pelvis are on the same plane.
Start to focus on your breath as it travels in and out of your nostrils. Allow the breath to rise up from the belly and side ribs on the inhale and fall away from the belly and side ribs on the exhale.
Silently start to count the inhale and the exhale and aim to get them both equal counts, between 3– 6 breaths is usual for most people. Breathe here for a few breaths.
When you are ready to slowly extend the exhale to achieve the 2-to-1 ratio. If you are breathing in for 3 counts you exhale for 6 counts and so on.
2-to -1 breathing eliminates waste from the lungs and calms and nurtures the nervous system.
19 April 2016