woman doing bridge pose with a bolster

Restorative yoga is all about relaxing. You get to hold yoga poses (or asanas) for a longer time with the help of comfy props like yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters. The goal? To achieve a deep sense of relaxation. It’s about breathing, moving, and thinking in a controlled way. 

Just a few minutes of restorative yoga can bring stillness and focus to your busy mind.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Restorative yoga is centered around relaxation and achieving a deep sense of relaxation through long-held poses and props.
  2. Props like yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters are essential in restorative yoga as they support and help maintain poses for extended periods without strain.
  3. Restorative yoga offers numerous benefits, including stress reduction, mood enhancement, pain relief, improved sleep, and it is suitable for individuals with injuries or specific health conditions.

So, what sets restorative yoga apart from regular yoga?

 Well, a few things.

First up, it’s all about relaxation. While regular yoga often aims to build strength and flexibility, restorative yoga puts relaxation front and center. It’s the ultimate chill-out session.

Next, props are a big deal in restorative yoga. They help support your body in different poses. This means you can hold these poses for longer without feeling strained. Think of them as your yoga BFFs.

The poses in restorative yoga are also held longer— 5-20 minutes long. In contrast, regular yoga usually involves moving through poses more quickly.

Lastly, restorative yoga is less physically demanding than most other forms of yoga. This makes it a great choice if you’re nursing an injury, feeling stressed out, or want to take things slow.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits. 

Restorative yoga is a powerhouse when it comes to perks. Science-backed benefits include:

In fact, restorative yoga gets the thumbs up from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for pregnancy

It helps reduce stress, increases flexibility, and promotes mindful stretching. 

There are even special prenatal classes that offer modified poses for expecting moms. Just remember to skip any poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for a long time.

What about the Props?

Let’s talk about props in restorative yoga, and trust me, they’re way cooler than they sound! These aren’t just any random things lying around. Nope, they’re your trusty sidekicks during your yoga session. 

You’ve got yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters. These guys aren’t just for comfort. They’re there to help you get into those yoga poses and hold them for longer. They’re basically your support system.

Imagine trying to hold a pose for 5-20 minutes. Sounds tough. Well, that’s where your props come in. They help you maintain those poses without straining yourself. You can think of them as your personal yoga assistants.

You’re doing a pose that requires you to stretch or balance in a way that’s a little out of reach for you. That’s when you grab your yoga block. It acts like an extension of your arm or leg, making the pose more achievable.

Then you’ve got the bolsters. These are like your mini mattresses. They’re perfect for poses where you need to lie down or relax. They give you that extra support and comfort to sink into the pose.

And remember the blankets. They’re great for giving you extra padding, keeping you warm, or even helping prop up body parts in certain poses. It’s like a cozy hug in the middle of your yoga session.

So, you see, props in restorative yoga aren’t just optional extras. They’re there to make your practice more comfortable, achievable, and fun. Next time you’re in a restorative yoga session, don’t shy away from grabbing those props. 

They’re there to help you, and let’s face it, we could all use a little extra support sometimes!

How many times a week should you do restorative yoga?

Generally speaking, doing restorative yoga about 1-2 times per week is a good idea.

Restorative yoga is all about slowing down and giving your body a break. It’s not about pushing yourself to the limit every day. We’re humans, not machines! 

Having a couple of days a week where you focus on this gentle, restful practice can balance the more intense workouts or busy lifestyle you might have on other days.

Of course, if you’re dealing with something specific like stress, insomnia, or recovery from illness or injury, you should do it more often. Just listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

 Remember, it’s not a competition. It’s about taking care of yourself. And if that means spending a little extra time on your yoga mat, go for it!

But hey, if you’re new to it, start with once a week and see how you feel. You can always add more sessions as you get used to it.

When should you do restorative yoga?

Well, my friend, the beauty of restorative yoga is that you can do it any time. It’s all about what works best for you.

Some folks love to do restorative yoga first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to wake up your body gently and set a calm and focused tone for the day ahead.

 Imagine feeling relaxed and refreshed, with your mind at ease. Sounds pretty good.

Then some prefer to do it in the evening to wind down after a busy day. It’s like a reset button for your body and mind. You know how sometimes the day’s stress can follow you to bed? 

Doing restorative yoga in the evening can help you let go of all that. It’s like giving your body and mind the green light to relax and recharge for a good night’s sleep.

And hey, if you’re having a particularly stressful day, taking a break to do a bit of restorative yoga can be a great way to manage that stress. It’s like a mini-vacation in the middle of your day.

So, whether it’s morning, evening, or somewhere in between, the best time to do restorative yoga is when it feels right for you. Remember, it’s all about relaxation and self-care; there’s always a right time for that!

 5 Restorative yoga poses

Let’s dive into some restorative yoga poses! Remember, take it easy and enjoy the process. You’re not trying to win any medals here. Relax and feel good.

Child’s Pose (Balasana):

  • Start by kneeling on your yoga mat.
  • Sit back onto your heels and spread your knees hip-width apart.
  • Then, lean forward, extending your arms in front of you and resting your forehead on the mat.
  • Take deep breaths, feeling your back expand with each inhale. Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes.
woman in restorative yoga pose- Child's Pose

Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana):

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
  • Lift your hips off the floor and slide a yoga block or bolster under your lower back.
  • Allow your arms to relax at your sides. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, holding this pose for about 5 minutes.
woman doing bridge pose with a bolster

Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani):

  • Sit next to a wall with your side touching it.
  • Then, gently swing your legs onto the wall as you lay back on the floor. Your body should be in an ‘L’ shape.
  • Rest your arms comfortably at your sides and breathe deeply. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes.
Legs Up The Wall Pose
  • Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana):
  • Sit on the floor and bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees drop out to the sides.
  • Slowly recline back onto the floor or a bolster. You can use blocks or cushions under your knees for extra support.
  • Allow your arms to rest at your sides, palms facing up. Hang out in this pose for 5-10 minutes.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Corpse Pose (Savasana):

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms facing up.
  • Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths. Let your body completely relax.
  • Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes or as long as you’d like.
Corpse Pose

 What to Expect at Your First Restorative Yoga Class?

First things first, restorative yoga is all about relaxation. We’re talking deep, healthy, restful relaxation. You won’t be doing many poses, maybe five or six, but you’ll be holding them for a while, like 5 to 20 minutes.

The poses are super comfy. You’ll use props like bolsters, blankets, and blocks to support your body. This isn’t about pushing or straining. It’s about letting go and sinking into the pose.

You should start with some gentle warm-ups to loosen your muscles. After that, your instructor will guide you into each pose, helping you get all set up with your props. They’ll let you know when it’s time to gently move into the next pose.

The class will likely end with a wonderful pose called Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose. You’ll lie on your back, totally relaxed, and soak up your practice’s good vibes.

Your instructor might play soothing music, and the room may be dimly lit to help create a peaceful atmosphere. Each class is different, so it may vary.

Remember, there’s no need to be nervous. Restorative yoga is a non-competitive space where everyone focuses on their practice. Your job is to relax and enjoy.

So, pack your yoga mat, wear comfy clothes, and bring an open mind. Enjoy your first class!

Restorative yoga FAQs

Is restorative yoga like Yin?

Restorative yoga and Yin yoga share similarities in using long-held, passive poses for relaxation and tension release. However, there are differences between the two practices.
Regarding intensity, Restorative yoga prioritizes deep relaxation and restoration, using props for added comfort. In contrast, Yin yoga involves mild to moderate intensity and longer holds to target deep connective tissues.
The primary purpose of Restorative yoga is to promote relaxation and reduce stress, while Yin yoga aims to increase flexibility and improve joint health.
Restorative yoga commonly uses props for full support and tension release, whereas Yin yoga involves fewer props and focuses on targeted stretching.
Lastly, Restorative yoga encourages a passive approach to tranquility, while Yin yoga involves breath engagement and subtle movements.

Does restorative yoga count as exercise?

Restorative yoga is a gentle exercise focusing on relaxation, stress reduction, and balance. It improves flexibility, relieves muscle tension, and promotes a calm mind. While not as intense as other workouts, it complements a well-rounded fitness routine.

In conclusion, restorative yoga focuses on relaxation and achieving a deep sense of calm. By holding poses for extended periods with the support of props, such as blocks, blankets, and bolsters, restorative yoga creates a soothing and nurturing experience.

It differs from regular yoga by prioritizing relaxation over strength and flexibility.

The benefits of restorative yoga include stress reduction, mood enhancement, pain relief, improved sleep, and increased flexibility. Practicing restorative yoga 1-2 times per week is recommended to balance a busy lifestyle and complement other workouts.

Whether done in the morning or evening, restorative yoga offers a space for self-care and rejuvenation.

So, embrace the comfort of props, find a suitable practice frequency, and enjoy the stimulating effects of this calming yoga style.

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