Restorative yoga is one of those magical practices that with little physical doing a great deal can shift, unwind, and release within the body, mind, and spirit. The practice consists of sustained and supported postures into which the body can relax, twist, backbend, forward fold and go through many of the movements of a more active class, but in a far more restful way and within an energetic framework that soothes the nervous system and provides an opportunity to heal in all manner of ways. I find it to be a vital complement to the more rigorous bodywork we get in vinyasa classes.
Skilled teachers have microscopic vision that can spot a hand that can relax a bit more one centimetre to the right, and have studios with enough props to supply you with four bolsters and five blankets each, or whatever else you may need throughout the class. Lately I’ve been going to Adelene Cheong‘s excellent 90-minute Relax and Restore at The Life Centre Islington as well as adding a pose or two as part of my evening wind down and meditation time. It’ll take some time and prop investment or soft furnishing creativity to re-create a class experience at home, but here are a few simple poses to start out with. Alignment and body placement is not absolute, but will give you a hint to what is available.
A great go-to relaxer. Use a bolster or pillows or cushion of similar size. Part your knees slightly and bring bolster close enough in to support your belly. If not in close contact to your support, raise the height up with folded blankets. Turn your head to one side and then turn again halfway through your stay.
Generally calming and great for back pain. Try legs up the chair with your torso supported by a blanket and everything from your waist down on the floor. Legs placed on the chair with a slight angle on your thighs. Build up height or comfort with blankets. Blanket can alternatively be folded underneath your pelvis, or head, or wherever else feels good.
Calmly get the juices flowing for everything from digestion to better immunity. Support and stabilise your pelvis on a bolster, cushion, or folded something. Bring your legs straight up. If loads of effort, can alternatively rest against a wall. Can discard the bolster underneath you if you don’t like it.
Heart-opening, hip-opening, and generally opening yourself up to the world in a safe container. There are a million good variations of this pose, but keep it simple by bringing a bolster or cushions under your knees and a folded blanket raising everything waist up off the floor so you are in a tiny opening backbend.
Cover your eyes for all poses or simply dim the lights. Calmly breathe, or if you more help, use calm music without words to take you into a deeper consciousness that rests beyond thoughts.