Any type of physical activity that includes the words rest or restorative sounds like an easy, tranquil way to spend an afternoon, right? Well, that’s one of the misconceptions about restorative yoga. While a restorative yoga practice is comprised of more passive postures that help you slow down and let your body recover, it requires you to relax in the postures for longer periods of time – three minutes to twenty minutes at a time – and asks of you to nurture your self-awareness and learn to purposefully relax. For these reasons, restorative yoga is considered an advanced practice. But don’t let that scare you away. Here are six restorative poses to help beginners ease into the practice. The key is to start by holding the poses for two to three minutes. As you increase your practice, the longer you’ll be able to hold them.
Supported Child’s pose
Support your body with bolsters or pillows lengthwise in front of you as you fold your torso into Child’s pose. You may also want to place a folded blanket under your shins and between your legs and bottom for added support. This pose gently stretches your hips, thighs, and back muscles.
Heart Opener pose
Place a block or bolster in the middle of your back as you lay back into the Heart Opener pose. This pose opens your heart and your hips, and can help you breath deeper while you relax the shoulders.
Half Pigeon Pose
The Pigeon pose can be intense glute and hamstring stretch, so start with the Half Pigeon pose, and use a block or bolster to support your hips and extend your leg backwards while your toes are pointed. Use our arm or a block to support your forehead. Hold for two to three minutes, and then repeat on the other side. You’ll still feel the glute and hamstring stretch in this one.
Starting from a seated position, bend your knees and bring your feet together, pressing your knees towards the floor, while resting your forehead on a block. This pose opens your hip flexors and releases tension in your lower back. Once you’ve practiced this pose for a while, extend your arms out in front of you to increase the stretch.
This pose stretches the back leg hip flexors and the lower back. Creating as much of a forward lunge as you are comfortable with, relax into your pelvis, support your arm on an up-ended block, and leave the knee behind the ankle. Hold for two to three minutes, and then repeat on the other side.
The ultimate in relaxation poses, and the perfect way to end a restorative yoga session, you might not see Shavasana as challenging since the pose is simply lying down on your back with your eyes closed. But the challenge is to quiet your mind and completely withdraw from your surroundings. You may want a blanket and an eye bag to help you relax. If possible, take 15 to 20 minutes for this pose.
If you are new to restorative yoga, LHAA offers a Relax and Restore class that is suitable for all levels. Our certified instructors can help you with form and practice techniques to help you get the most out of restorative yoga. See our class schedule here!
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