Definition and Background
Unlike most of the other forms of yoga now widely offered in the West, restorative yoga focuses more on relaxation and healing. While it is considered a style in its own right, it can also be considered an umbrella term for other styles that focus on healing. People who attend restorative yoga do so to achieve emotional, mental, and physical relaxation.
To be able to do this, one is required to use props so that he or she can hold poses for a little longer. The props also make it possible to maintain balance while doing the poses. This type of yoga can be directly targeted on the entire body or only on specific areas.
Restorative yoga is a style that developed from the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. He was the man who helped develop Iyengar yoga and is widely respected in the field of yoga. Since Iyengar is the basis of healing yoga, it became the basis of restorative yoga. However, it was Judith Lasater, Iyengar’s students who developed restorative yoga as an independent style and made it popular.
The most defining factor about restorative yoga is the length of a time each pose is held. At times, this can be as long as 10 – 15 minutes. Most of the poses that are done in restorative yoga are quite similar to the poses in other yoga styles, only that they use props and they are much slower. Before beginning the poses, one is required to start with warm exercises and other simple poses like gentle Vinyasa and sun salutations. Other poses include:
The child’s pose – This is done by placing a pillow under the body and then tucking the heels under the hips; just like a child would do while sleeping.
Legs against the wall – Here, one can place a bolster either under the back, hips, or legs while their feet are placed leaning against the wall.
Reclining bound angle – Here, the props are placed under the legs, head, and arms.
Savasana – This is a simple relaxation pose. One is required to place a pillow under their head and a bolster under their legs or feet.
As mentioned earlier, props are a key part of restorative yoga. They are the aid that one uses to give support to the body while stretching or relaxing. The other items one may require include blocks, straps, pillows, chairs, blankets, and bolsters. To ensure that the relaxation is effective, one should ensure that the props obtained are the right size for specific poses. Getting a prop that is either larger or smaller can lead to either discomfort or injury. This can also affect the level of concentration one has during yoga.
Due to the nature of poses involved in restorative yoga, there are chances that one may feel shapeless or motionless. This may not be emotionally healthy and putting on an eye pillow or placing the feet on the wall can help. A combination of various poses can be employed depending on the type or restorative healing one is looking for.