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What Is Restorative Yoga?

Aug 17, 2010

Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that seeks to achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation with the aid of props. The use of props makes it easier for you to maintain balance while you are stimulating and relaxing your body. While some restorative yoga poses are beneficial to the entire body, others target specific parts of the body, such as the heart or the lungs.

Origins of Restorative Yoga

Modern restorative yoga is derived from a yoga style that was invented by B.K.S. Iyengar, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest yoga masters in the world. Iyengar instructed his students to make use of props to perfect their poses, and his teachings became known as Iyengar Yoga, which provided the foundation for the development of restorative yoga. Later on, one of Iyengar's students, Judith Lasater, made restorative yoga a popular form of yoga around the world.

Benefits

Restorative yoga provides healing for the body and the mind. It is especially useful when you need to eliminate fatigue and stress that result from your daily activities. It can also help you recover from illness and injury or overcome emotional depression and anxiety that are caused by traumatic events such as divorce, loss of job and death of a beloved.

It is known that restorative yoga can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables automatic control of the body. As such, the regular nervous system will be at rest, and the muscles will become more relaxed. Constant practice of restorative yoga will make your body less vulnerable to stress-related illnesses and help you achieve optimal health.

Poses

Many restorative yoga poses are similar to normal yoga poses, except that they are performed with the support of props. Before you start doing the poses, you have to do a warm-up first, which can be the sun salutation or the gentle vinyasa. Each restorative yoga pose has to be held for a few minutes, and it can even be as long as 10 to 15 minutes. Some of the commonly practiced poses include:

  • Legs against Wall - Performed with bolster under your legs, hips or back.
  • Child's Pose - Tuck your heels under your hips and cradle a bolster or pillow with your upper body.
  • Reclining Bound Angle - Performed with props under head, arms and legs.
  • Savasana (Relaxation) - Rest your head on a pillow, legs on bolster and feet on blanket.

While you are practicing restorative yoga poses, your instructor may suggest that you use a blanket to cover your body, so that you will feel more comfortable.

Props

If you want to perform restorative yoga well, you need to have a wide range of props. Most of the time, you will be using bolsters, pillows, blankets, chairs, straps and blocks to help you achieve perfect poses. The main purpose of props is to provide support for your body when you are stretching or relaxing. As such, you have to make sure that you have props of the right sizes for specific poses. A prop that is half an inch larger or smaller can cause you to lose comfort and concentration when you are performing a pose.

When you are practicing restorative yoga, you will feel a sense of motionlessness and shapelessness, and this may result in some forms of emotional discomfort. Restorative yoga poses can make you feel vulnerable while you are practicing them, but you can keep yourself comfortable by putting on an eye pillow or placing your feet on the wall.

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