Restorative - Ahhhh!

Restorative yoga uses some of the same poses you’ll practice in any other yoga class, but with full support and for a much longer time. The idea is to support your limbs in a position so comfortable that you can remain for minutes without effort, allowing your muscles and nervous system to let go and enjoy the gentle stretch. You don’t want to stretch into tension or discomfort, but come just inside your edge and allow your tissues to accommodate and rest in the openness of the posture. You’ll find that the next time you attempt to stretch those muscles, they’ll be more limber with less effort. Restorative yoga is great for the evening before bed, after a stressful day, or any time you need to reset. The eye pillow is useful for calming anxiety and signaling your nervous system to calm down. You can use a folded wash cloth or hand towel to substitute. If you don’t have bolsters or blocks, use your couch cushions and pillows to support your body in rest.

Recommended Equipment:
Yoga Mat or soft carpet, Eye pillow, 4-6 Yoga Blankets, 2 or more Bolsters, 2-4 Yoga Blocks, Yoga Strap, Gentle Timer or Clock, Socks

It is recommended to perform the warm-up first, before starting this routine.

 

Step 1: Cat Pose
Duration: 10 breaths
Pose Review: Cat Pose

We’ll warm the spine up and supercharge our breath with some spinal stretches to begin. Start in a tabletop position with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. From neutral, inhale and allow your tailbone to curl up as your belly and chest descend toward the floor and your head reaches gently up. Feel the stretch all along your spine as your breath expands your torso in every direction. Exhale, turn your tailbone under and follow the wave up your spine, lifting your belly strongly, letting your shoulder blades slide around the sides of your ribcage as it rises follows and your head descends. Press the floor away. Feel your torso press the breath up and out of your body.


Step 2: Child’s Pose
Duration: 3-5 minutes
Pose Review: Child's Pose

Have a couple of bolsters handy as you lower your hips to your heels with your arms out in front of you. Use a bolster, or even two, to support your torso in this forward bend.  Have your knees wide and hug the bolster with an arm on either side and rest your cheek on it. Feel your breath expand your body and ripple your spine as your attention turns inward and your legs and torso release into the support you’ve created.


Step 3: Crocodile
Duration: 3-5 minutes
Pose Review: Crocodile Pose

Open your eyes slowly and stretch your arms and neck. Remove the bolster to one side. Reaching forward, lower your entire torso and hips to the ground. Turn your feet out and take your opposite shoulders in each hand, resting your forehead on the place where your forearms cross. If you feel strain in any part of your body, support that part with a blanket. Some people will want a blanket under their ankles, others under their hips or head. Create the most supportive pose you can imagine and then sink in, and turn your attention to the sensations of breathing.

Step 4: Goddess
Duration: 3-5 minutes
Pose Review: Goddess Pose

Turn over and place one, two or more bolsters behind you, just behind your low back.  Bring the soles of your feet together and support your knees with blocks, blankets or bolsters so that your thighs feel open, but not like you have to hold them up in the air. Recline back with the bolsters along your spine and your head slightly elevated on a blanket draped over the top bolster. Place the eye pillow or cloth over your eyes. Adjust your support until you feel free to open the joints of the body in a nourishing, relaxing gesture of letting go. Allow your hands to rest by your hips with the palms up, or for even more internal attention on your belly, palms down. You can even try supporting your arms with blankets, or placing one hand over your heart and one over your belly.

To come out of this pose, slowly open your eyes and wiggle your fingers, rotate your wrists and bend your elbows and shoulders. Place your hands on the outside of each knee and assist your knees in coming up and return to a seated position.


Step 5: Seated Wide Legged Straddle
Duration: 3-5 minutes
Pose Review: Seated Wide Legged Straddle

Turn around so you’re facing the stack of bolsters you were reclined upon, with one leg on either side of the stack. Find a place of gentle stretching where you don’t have to put effort into maintaining your stretch, and lifting your heart, pivot forward from your pelvis over the bolsters. Stop wherever your low back begins to curve and hug the bolsters in, draping your torso over the bolsters with your arms on either side or under your forehead for support. If you place your cheek on the bolsters, make it the opposite cheek from the one you rested in Child’s pose. You may support your knees with rolled blankets if you feel any discomfort there, and might also experiment with starting with your hips elevated on a blanket. Find the place of greatest ease, comfort and support for your body, breath and mind.

    
Step 6: Seated Forward Bend
Duration: 3-5 minutes
Pose Review: Seated Forward Bend

Finally, lift the bolsters so you can bring your legs together and set the bolsters on your legs. Begin in Staff pose, lifting your rib cage up from your pelvis at first and creating length and openness in your spine and torso. Pivot forward from your pelvis and drape your torso over your bolsters at whatever point you feel your maximum stretch without compromising the low back. You may support your hips and under your knees.  Feel your breath move your body subtly into more openness and calm


Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.


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