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Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga helps relieve stress and combat the negative effects that stress and anxiety have on our bodies. A restorative yoga practice encourages us to relax, slow our breathing, and focus on the present movement. This shifts us out of fight-or-flight and into a parasympathetic response of rest and digest.

Restorative Yoga is a deeply restful style of yoga that focuses on calming the mind and body rather than building heat or elevating the heart rate. Restorative yoga holds poses (asanas) for extended durations – typically from three to five minutes but sometimes for up to 15 minutes or more.

Typically, restorative yoga practices utilize yoga props to make it possible to effortlessly relax into these long holds. This effortless relaxation of the body and muscles allows the mind to consciously relax and release tension.

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing practice that is accessible to everyone from rookies to long-practicing yogis.

As you settle into restorative poses, you will notice your breath slowing down and your heart rate decreasing. This allows your body to release feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

Incorporating restorative yoga into your normal routine will cultivate a state of relaxation and create a sense of wellbeing with lowered anxiety and more optimistic outlook on life.

Here’s a short sequence that can change your outlook today:

Supported Bridge Pose

  • Promotes relaxation by activating the baroreflex to calm the sympathetic nervous system
  • Aids digestion
  • Stretches the hip flexors and chest
How to come into Supported Bridge pose with a bolster:
  1. Place the bolster perpendicular to the mat.
  2. Sit with your low back touching the middle of the bolster.
  3. Lie down over the bolster so your sacrum rests on the bolster and your shoulder blades and head are on the mat.

Side-Lying Pose on a Bolster

  • Opens the side-body
  • Lengthens muscles along the spine
  • Evens out imbalances by holding each side for the same duration
How to come into this Side-lying pose on a Bolster:
  1. Place bolster parallel on the mat.
  2. Sit with your hip touching the end of the bolster.
  3. Slide your hand along the bolster as you bring your side to rest on the bolster.
  4. Halfway through bring your top arm along your ear and hold your wrist with your bottom hand for a deeper stretch.

Heart Opener/Gentle Supported Fish Pose

  • Relieves anxiety and stress
  • Releases upper back tension
  • Lengthens the muscles in the upper chest
How to come into this Heart Opening pose with a Bolster:
  1. Place bolster parallel on the mat behind you.
  2. Sit with your sacrum touching the end of the bolster.
  3. Keeping your spine centered, slowly lower your back onto the bolster.
  4. Bring your arms out to a T-shape with palms facing up.

Restorative Child’s pose

  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Stretches hips and thighs
  • Releases lower back pain
How to come into Restorative Child’s Pose:
  1. Kneel facing the bolster with big toes touching and knees wider than the bolster.
  2. Bring the bolster between your knees with it parallel to the mat.
  3. Lower your torso onto the bolster with your arms on the mat next to the bolster.
  4. Turn your head to one side for the first half. Then turn it to the other side for the remainder of the pose.

Restorative Yoga relieves stress and boosts resilience.

Yoga helps relieve stress every time we get onto our mats but don’t wait until those stressful feelings emerge. Regularly practicing yoga (a short session every day or a couple of longer classes every week) creates resiliency and self-confidence. People who practice often find it easier to handle things when life gets stressful. Yoga increases our ability to remain calm, balanced, and relaxed.

Incorporating restorative yoga into your normal routine will cultivate a state of relaxation and create a sense of wellbeing with lowered anxiety and more optimistic outlook on life but a few poses once a month won’t eliminate all the stress in our bodies or environments. Yes, yoga gives us the ability to look inward for resilience and remember to come back to the present moment when our emotions spiral out of control but the effects that help us feel better compound over time.

Add this restorative yoga sequence to your regular practice. Your future self will thank you!

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