Restorative yoga was created by B.K.S. Iyengar for folks who are injured or in “high stress mode”.
The idea is that when you hold particular shapes for 8 minutes or longer, with full support from whatever props you need, your body is able to balance your nervous system into a place of rest rather than a wired and tired place.
This is very grounding and can recenter you within a half hour of the practice, allowing you to reconnect with your true self rather then your over stressed self.
Here are a few to try, and remember use as many props as you can! And stay in the shape for a minimum of 8 minutes, because that is roughly how long it can take for the nervous system to find calm.
Reclined Bound Angle
Relax unwind and let your props support you from the ground up! Gravity will take hold and allow you to be cradled in this shape so that you can simply let go!
With your feet together or slightly apart and your knees bent over a bolster lay down on your back with your hands resting on either side of you.
If this is challenging for your hips you can wrap a strap around your low back and thighs to give you a higher place to rest your legs.
Supported Child’s Pose
Turning inwards and getting heavy in this shape helps us to reconnect with ourselves.
From sitting on your bent legs fold a blanket and put it between your lower and upper legs, or sit on a low block. Add another smaller blanket under your ankles or knees if they are uncomfortable, and place a block or small cushion under your forehead, let your arms drape down by your side.
For added grounding you could put small sand bags in the palms of your hands or have a kind friend put a larger sand bag on your lower back.
Who doesn’t like a good snuggle? This little gem is a yummy twist with the benefits of a hug! Hugs are wonderful for helping us plug in and feel connected to what is important to us.
Sit next to an upright bolster that has been propped up on the highest setting of your block (or several stacked). Let your bent knees fall towards the bolster and turn to face it in a twist. Thread your arms under the bolster and dig in for the cuddle.
You can always pop a blanket between your knees or under the top knee and shin bone for support. The higher the block setting the deeper the twist will be so if it’s hard to relax here then lower the blocks.
Legs Up The Wall
This inversion is a wonderful prescription for anxiety and stress. It releases tension that collects in the jaw and lower back areas. If you have a heavy sandbag you can pop it on your flexed feet up the wall, but even without it this shape grounds your kidneys towards the Earth and supplies the parasympathetic branch of your nervous system the “rest and digest” system with a little extra love to help reverse that “fight or flight” feeling we get from stress.
Find a wall and put a slightly folded up blanket against the baseboard. Sit sideways on the blanket, with one hip against the wall and use your hands to hold you as swivel your legs up the wall. You will land with your low back on the blanket and your no space between you and the wall. Now simply relax.
For added yum factor raise your hips up a little more. If it is hard to hold your legs up then tie your strap around your thighs to hold you up.
That’s about a thirty minute practice right there! For added yum factor you can always add an eye pillow spritzed with your favorite grounding and calming essential oil, like lavender or frankincense.