What is restorative yoga? A restorative yoga practice differs from traditional vinyasa or “flow” yoga in that it focuses primarily on letting go of muscular tension as opposed to stretching or lengthening the muscles. Restorative poses are held longer than in a vinyasa practice and are performed by lying passively over props such as blankets and bolsters.
Why restorative yoga? Quite simply, these basic, easy to do poses help to relax the muscles and calm the mind. Restorative yoga also benefits the central nervous system and immune system. Restorative poses initiate the “relaxation response,” which lowers the blood pressure, decreases respiration, decreases muscle tension, slows brain waves, and promotes blood flow to vital organs. Good circulation allows immune cells to communicate freely with the pituitary gland, pineal gland, hypothalamus, lymphatic tissues, and other immune cell sites like the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and your skin.
What do I need to in order do restorative yoga? Low lighting, 1-2 blankets, 1-2 yoga blocks, a yoga strap, a bolster or large supportive pillow, and a quiet space. I also like to play relaxing music (I personally enjoy movie scores) and adding lavender oil to my diffuser while practicing restorative yoga.
For more tips or suggestions for poses, I recommend Gail Boorstein Grossman’s Restorative Yoga for Life.