Restorative Yoga: Explained
A yoga class you may be more familiar with is moving from pose to pose, building heat and increasing your strength and flexibility.
Restorative yoga is something completely different. It's about slowing down and opening the body through passive stretching. In a restorative class, you may hardly move at all, doing just a few postures in the hour or hour and a half time of class.
During these long holds, your muscles are able to relax more deeply. It's a completely different feeling from other types of yoga classes since props are used to support your body instead of you using your muscles. Restorative classes are very mellow, making them a good complement to more active practices and an excellent way to release stress and restore a sense of equilibrium.
In restorative yoga, the yoga instructor will help set you up in props to support your body so that you can “rest” in the poses for a longer period of time. Props include blocks, bolsters and blankets.
What a Class Can Look Like
Prepare yourself for a time of rest and deep relaxation. You may be asked to bring a blanket or pillow but otherwise props will be available for you. The lights may be dimmed and soft music played. You will be asked to dress comfortably and bring layers so you can be warm and cozy during the poses. In Kimberly's class you are asked to bring a blanket and pillow of your own to use as well.
After you are set up in a pose with all your props, you will hold the pose for an extended period, often up to ten to twenty minutes. Although you are supported, you will definitely still feel the stretching, which will probably help keep you somewhat awake. You will be asked to focus on your breath throughout, and sometimes be guided through a meditation or body scan. You may only do three or four poses over the course of a class. Falling asleep in these classes is allowed, it is what your body is needing in that moment and is perfectly ok. KImberly will guide you back to the meditation or to transition to the next pose very slowly and gently giving you time to bring your awareness back to your body and to the present.
Once you learn the basic set-ups for a few postures, it is easy to take the practice home using props you have available and arrange yourself in the poses that you find are most healing and beneficial to your needs.
Specific restorative yoga poses can be used to help you with: