Restorative Yoga is by far the most relaxing type of yoga I have practiced. Using lots of blankets and pillows as props, these poses are held for 15+ minutes. After doing a full Restorative Yoga sequence, you can expect to feel restored, rejuvenated, and peaceful, much like you would after a day spent at the spa.
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Props You Will Need for the Restorative Yoga Sequence
- Yoga Mat
- Bolster (a firm couch cushion may also work)
- A Large Pillow or a Second Bolster
- 2 Yoga Blocks
- Several Blankets (yoga blankets work great, but any blankets will do) (I used 6 blankets)
- Eye Pillow or Scarf (I prefer using a scarf because the weight of an eye pillow can get uncomfortable if it is too heavy)
This might seem like a lot, but you can get creative and use things around your home as substitutes.
Restorative Yoga Basics
- Restorative yoga is best practiced in a quiet, warm and dark room. Make sure that you feel secure where you are practicing. It will be hard to relax into the poses if there are people walking about, loud noises, etc.
- Your poses don’t have to be set up exactly as mine are. In restorative yoga, the pose can differ. What important is that the person feels comfortable and supported. Add extra blankets, rest your arms out to the sides with blankets supporting them, play around until all areas of your body are supported.
- Don’t let anything dangle. You want all parts of your body supported.
- If your hands are resting on the ground it’s best to have palms faced up with a blanket supporting your hand and creating some flection in your wrists.
- Once you are set up in the poses, you will want to cover yourself with a blanket. I have left this finally blanket off in the pictures so that you are able to see how I set up the poses.
- It’s a good idea to wear socks to keep your feet warm.
- The purpose of Restorative Yoga is not to fall asleep, but rather to relax and release. You may fall asleep though and that’s okay.
- Some type of timer. (I like using the Insight Timer)
Restorative Yoga Sequence
There are many contraindications (including pregnancy) for yoga poses, which is why consulting your doctor before practicing yoga is essential. You should also have a certified yoga teacher that learn and practice under in person.
First Restorative Pose
For this first pose, you will want to use two yoga blocks to support your bolster. A firm bolster works best.
Sit with your lower back touching the bolster and bend your legs, bringing the soles of your feet together. Under each bent knee place a rolled blanket to support the knee.
Then, stack up blankets on each side to rest your elbows on. Once you are comfortable, place a blanket over you and lean back onto the bolster using a blanket to support your head.
Place your eye pillow or scarf and rest your hands on your stomach, interlacing the fingers together to keep them in place.
Stay in the pose for 15-20 minutes. I find that if I don’t set a timer, I don’t relax because I am afraid I will fall asleep and miss something important. You could find that opposite is true, you can’t relax because the timer is running. Do what works for you!
Second Restorative Pose
The upper body portion of this pose is the same. Just straighten out the legs and use your second bolster or a large pillow and blankets under your knees. Place an extra blanket under the heels. Cover yourself with a blanket, restart your timer for 15-20 minutes, and place your eye pillow or scarf. Enjoy the pose and being in the present moment.
Third Restorative Pose
This third pose requires a bit of a change up in props. Remove everything from your mat and start from scratch. Place a chair at the foot of your mat. Making sure at least the front legs of the chair are on the mat to keep it from slipping. It’s best if all legs of the chair are on the mat.
Place a folded blanket starting at the chair and leading up your mat. It should be long enough so that your shoulders are still on the mat when laying down. You also want it wide enough so that you can rest your whole upper body onto it.
Drape one blanket over the seat of the chair.
Place one folded blanket on each side for your elbows to rest on and a couple of blankets to hold the head.
Have two blankets close by before you put your feet up on the chair. Use one blanket to cover your feet and legs. I like to tuck a blanket in around the legs. Use the other blanket to cover your torso and arms.
Set your timer for 15-20 minutes before placing your eye pillow or scarf.
After doing the third pose of this Restorative Yoga sequence slowly and mindfully put your props away before enjoying the rest of your day. After doing this sequence I always feel calm and rejuvenated. I would recommend doing this sequence once a week (more or less if you feel it is needed).
Doing Restorative Yoga has a ton of benefits including calming the mind and helping insomnia. You can learn about more benefits of this yoga practice in 15 Incredible Benefits of Restorative Yoga.