There's a Class for That Yoga basics

Restorative Yoga: Feel full again

Even if you’re one of the few people that don’t have trouble sleeping these days, chances are you feel a bit depleted in some way. With the accelerated pace of our modern lives, we often wake up still feeling fatigued, even after a full night’s sleep.

One reason for this relentless exhaustion is that we repeatedly crash at the end of the day, falling asleep without relaxing first. This abrupt transition causes our body to retain physical tension as the mind becomes unconscious. If you grind your teeth, clench your fists, kick your feet, or otherwise exhibit restlessness throughout the night, your body is likely holding tension as you sleep. There is only so much your system can heal under stress, so Restorative Yoga was created to provide the opposite effect.

Using props like chairs, straps, blocks, and blankets (or your own at-home alternatives) it helps the body surrender into relaxation while the mind remains awake. With the body fully supported, we are able to release stress while also allowing new energy to flood in and help with recovery. Because the props hold the body in a way it can’t hold itself, it’s almost like creating a dam in places where our energy is naturally flowing. The shapes of the postures help the energy “pool up” and provide nourishment to specific areas.

Because the focus is on recovery and stillness, each pose is held for 5-20 minutes. These long holds have a deep impact on our system, so it’s important to take extra time when exiting each pose and pause for a moment to observe. You’ll also need plenty of time to set up your props, because the work is so subtle on the body that it’s important to be precise. With this slow and deliberate pace, in an entire Restorative Yoga class, you may only practice 4-6 poses.

Because it’s so specific and so still, you might consider taking 5-15 minutes to do a bit of walking or stretching before settling into your practice. If you haven’t exercised in a while, you might get fidgety. It also helps to have some extra blankets around you, since your body temperature naturally drops as you relax. You want to set yourself up for a win, so do a bit of a warm-up, find a quiet space that is warm and cozy, then let go of all effort and simply rest.

If you are used to practicing active Hatha Yoga in the form of Vinyasa or Hot Yoga, you may find this type of stillness extremely challenging. But even if you feel full of energy with no need to restore, you should consider doing this practice from time to time so you can bring yourself into balance when needed.

Just keep in mind that Restorative Yoga is not exercise, and is not meant to create more flexibility. It’s a practice of relaxation that will create the feeling of being full again.

If you’re ready to experience the deep relaxation that’s possible with the right set of props, Amy Ippoliti offers a full immersion in her new program.

The Ultimate Restorative:

Props needed: 3 Blocks, 2 Bolsters, 6 Blankets, Chair, Strap, Wall Space

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