Restorative yoga is a wonderful, relaxing practice that is quite different from a traditional yoga class. It is, as its title suggests, restorative. Most yoga classes move in a flowing motion from one pose to another. Restorative yoga is more like a meditation of movements where each pose is held for an extended period of time.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN A RESTORATIVE YOGA CLASS?
Definitely, bring your yoga mat because you spend all of the class on the floor. You may start the class in a cross-legged meditation pose, so I know that I need a meditation cushion in order to sit in that position for an extended period of time. Other props that may be used are yoga blocks, a bolster, yoga therapy balls, eye mask and a blanket. There really isn’t a flow in a restorative yoga class in that you don’t move through positions in a quick manner. As you sit or lay in the different poses, you are given time to meditate or the instructor reads affirmations and mantras. It gives an ultimate feeling of relaxation.
HOW ARE PROPS USED IN RESTORATIVE YOGA?
I used a meditation cushion, as I said, in order to sit in a crossed legged position for a longer period of time. You can also use a blanket or a yoga block. They raise your backside and make it more comfortable. When your backside is raised, your legs are on a slight incline, which makes it more comfortable if your legs or hips are tight. Yoga blocks can also be used to raise your knees or put under your head in different lying poses. In one pose, you can put the therapy balls on a yoga block and rest your head on top in order to massage out the knots in the neck. So good!!!
The bolster is used to prop up knees or to do a slight back bend. If your legs are short, they will hang over the bolster. If your legs are long, your feet will reach the floor. All the props are for supportive purposes and promote relaxation. The lavender eye mask is the cherry on top of the sundae…the scent is wonderful and also promotes relaxation. Essential oils are often used to enhance the experience as well as meditative music.
HOW WILL I FEEL DURING AND AFTER THE CLASS?
Since you hold poses for extended periods of time, some discomfort may arise. The challenge is to be able to stay in the pose in the most comfortable way possible for you. Use of the props helps immensely, that is what they are for. It is not the rule that you must stay in the exact pose that is stated. It is your practice to get out of the position and not what someone else telling you to. If you need to shift your body for comfort, do it.
After the class, you will feel unbelievable calm, release of stress and overall well-being. It is similar to the feeling you get after a great massage. Don’t be surprised if you have the best sleep that you’ve had in a long time that night. Who doesn’t want to feel complete relaxation and sleep soundly?
POSITIVE HEALTH BENEFITS
The health benefits are endless. You will feel less stress. You will sleep better. You will have a positive mindset. Stretching and posing will help your muscles and connective tissue. These classes are usually longer than a flow type yoga class so you may want to do one or two a month. Add this type of class to your current exercise routine and you will have a great complement of healthy movement.