Restorative yoga poses emphasize stillness and relaxation and are a great way to balance today's very hectic lifestyles. Life is busy and we often find ourselves running on overdrive in an effort to finish our endless "to do" lists.
And, then we are encouraged to squeeze in some cardiovascular or aerobic exercise to keep our hearts healthy. Even when we crawl into bed to catch a few hours sleep, our minds are still so active that we often fight insomnia or wake up feeling even more tired and fatigued.
Studies have shown that one of the main reasons we get sick is because we don't take the time to release stress, calm our minds, and completely relax. In fact, some of us probably wouldn't know how to relax if we were given the opportunity. But, constant stress and demands will eventually take a toll on your body either through illness or injury.
Restorative yoga poses are simply meant to relieve stress through deep relaxation so your body can regenerate and heal. Typically, props such as blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps, pillows, or towels are used to help support the body and make sure it is properly aligned for maximum results.
All traditional yoga poses will repair, build, and strengthen, but many of the new practices are also created to target fat loss and muscle building.
Although props are not necessary, they are strongly recommended since they will allow you to fully relax without any strain on your body. There is no muscle tension, lifting, or balancing required. Your only job is to find a place of stillness, calmness, and complete relaxation. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
Whether you are recovering from an illness or injury – or trying to prevent one – restorative yoga poses offer the balance you need to counteract the effects of a busy, and sometimes not so healthy, lifestyle.
Childs pose will gently stretch the hips and thighs, release tension in the back, reduce neck pain (when done with head supported), and relieve stress, tension, or fatigue. This is also a great pose to sequence in between more challenging asanas to help the body rest, recover or prepare for the next balancing posture.
Bridge pose has a very long list of restorative capabilities such as stretching the chest, neck, spine, and hips; stimulating lung and thyroid function; fighting depression; calming the nervous system; decreasing muscle pain; helping with insomnia (if done before bed); increasing circulation; relieving abdominal cramps associated with menstruation.
Having the head lower than the heart increases the restorative properties of this pose; however, the size of the supports used will depend on your personal ability and comfort level.
Corpse pose is one of total relaxation and stillness. Many people find it challenging at first, but the curative qualities are amazing. The Corpse Pose can relieve stress and depression, help eliminate headaches, fight fatigue and insomnia, and lower blood pressure. Although many people do not use supports, some find the pose more comfortable by placing a blanket or bolster under the knees.
Besides all the above-mentioned benefits, this restorative pose is designed specifically to help relieve back and leg pain, calm anxiety, improve sleep, increase blood flow, reduce varicose veins, and is also a great way to get rid of a headache!
Additionally, this posture will gently stretch the back of the legs, the torso, and the neck. Although support is not necessary, you may find more restorative benefits by placing a few blankets or a bolster under your lower back.
Again, this posture can be done with or without supports depending on your level of flexibility, although many people find benefits from using a pillow under the upper back or neck and blocks under the knees.
The Reclining Bound Angle Pose will gently stretch the hips, chest, and inner thighs, can relieve headaches, help release anxiety and tension, increase circulation, calm the nervous system, and improve the symptoms of menstruation or menopause.
To get the most benefits from your Restorative Yoga practices, follow these tips:
Restorative Yoga poses can be included as part of a sequence or routine, or they can be done individually throughout the day whenever you are feeling stressed. To balance a busy schedule and keep your body healthy, make restorative yoga a regular part of your lifestyle.
Other pages that might interest you:
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.