Every once in awhile we all need to hit reset. If only it was as easy as hitting a button to instantly feel refreshed and rejuvenated! You can get the next best thing, however, with restorative yoga. The practice of restorative yoga has been designed to offer supportive, deeply calming postures that allow you to fully rest your spinning mind and tense body.
Restorative yoga helps to balance the body and mind; they work together to find a common ground of deep relaxation. The practice uses a lot of props–blankets, bolsters, pillows, and blocks–so that you are fully supported in the posture, and therefore able to let go of tension or thoughts more easily. Restorative yoga is very beneficial if you are prone to stress and anxiety, or even if you are just having a rough week. It is also useful for relieving headaches, easing cramping during your moon cycle, relieving sciatic pain, all while balancing out the energies in your body.
If you’re suspicious or nervous about having to be still for longer periods of time (restorative poses are traditionally held between five and 25 minutes) don’t be afraid! This practice is basically nap time for adults–you have nothing to lose!
Legs Up The Wall
You need: Optional bolster or blanket
You’ll need to find some bare wall space for this one. To start, either sit with one hip against the wall, lean back and swing your legs up, lying down onto the floor; Or you can start by lying on the ground in fetal position, with your seat right against the wall, then swing your legs up and roll onto your back. Once your legs are up the wall, they should be relatively close together and straight(ish). Your bum should be as close to the wall as you can get it (you may need to do some scoochin’ to get up there). Rest your hands by your side or on your belly, and rest your head back so your gaze is towards the ceiling. It’s nice to close your eyes here and just notice the weight of your legs.
If you like, you can raise your hips in this posture by placing a folded-up blanket or a bolster under your hips. This may not be comfortable for you, but the option is there if you want to give it a try.
You need: A bolster or a pillow
Start this one by bringing your right leg in front and your left leg behind, working to get both legs at 90 degrees. It’s cool if you have to pull your feet closer to your body. Take your bolster to the outside of your right hip. Lay it down lengthways, so it’s pointing away from you. Sit up tall and twist yourself over towards the bolster then lie down, so that your belly is resting on the bolster. Find a comfortable spot for your arms to rest, and place one cheek on the bolster. If you wear glasses you may find it more comfortable to take them off for this one. Repeat on the other side.
You need: A rolled up blanket
This pose has three stages, and you’ll need to lie on your back with your legs extended for all of them. Before you lie down though, roll up your blanket so that it’s roughly the same width as your mat. Place it down so that it’s where the bottoms of your shoulder blades will be. You can always move the blanket once you’re lying down if it’s not quite in the right spot. You should feel a slight lift in your chest here.
The second stage of the pose is to move the blanket down so that it’s in that empty space between your low back and the floor. You’ll feel more of a belly lift with this variation.
The third stage is to move the blanket a little lower so that it’s right above your tailbone, lifting your navel and pelvis. Keep your arms outstretched to the side for all these variations, and relax your legs. Hold each variation for the same amount of time.
Supported Child’s Pose
You need: A bolster or pillow–you may want to grab an extra, just in case.
Sit with your legs tucked under your seat, toes together and knees wide (to the edges of your mat). Pull your bolster in close to you, lengthways, between your legs. Lay down on the bolster, so your belly is flat against it. You may wish to use a second bolster or pillow here for more comfort or if your hips are tight. You can rest your forehead on the bolster, or one cheek. Alternate cheeks half way through to balance out your neck.
Pigeon Pose (with bolster)
You need: A bolster or pillow, and one or two blankets folded into rectangles (roughly long enough to reach from your hip to your toes).
Come into pigeon pose on the right side by bringing your right shin parallel (or as parallel as you can get it) to your mat. This could mean that your right foot is tucked right in towards your groin. Extend your left leg back so the knee and top of the foot are facedown against the mat. You want to keep your pelvis level here, so if you need to prop up your right hip with another pillow or blanket, then go ahead. Once you’ve found your pigeon, you can place one of your blankets under your left leg, then pull your bolster in close to your groin or right foot. The bolster should be lengthways, so that you can rest your belly and head on it. Find a comfortable place to rest your arms, either outstretched, or curled around the bolster.