As some of you know I love delivering (and receiving) a slow, restorative yoga practice. What is it all about you ask? Here is my article I wrote for the OM Yoga Magazine (May 2021 issue) .
“Restorative yoga is a restful yoga for stressful times. This is a nourishing and soothing style of practice that creates inner peace and harmony and leaves you feeling recharged, reset and restored. You will find deep peace in your yoga practice that can carry you through the tides of your life.
The soothing and well supported poses offer us the opportunity to linger quietly for a few moments and savour the simple sweetness of life. Restorative practice guarantees to leave us nourished and well rested. The poses are held for several minutes at a time and are deeply supported by bolsters, blankets, pillows and blocks. Restorative yoga practice is like an internal retreat. Deeply nourishing and healing. You feel as if you received the biggest and most beautiful hug.
There is a bigger need than ever now to slow down, pause and reset. The business of our everyday life, the constant stream of news, social media updates and stress resulting from the world situation can be very overwhelming. The slower yoga practice that creates a feeling of peace and deep release is now more popular than ever before. The restorative style of yoga is an absolute
must in this day and age. Eva can confirm this from her own experience as her slow and mindful classes are in high demand and very popular.
To start the restorative practice, take time to get comfortable on your props and make any necessary adjustments. The comfort is important as we hold these postures for longer than in your regular yoga class. Use your inner wisdom to guide you toward greater comfort, making any modifications you need. The bolsters and blocks support the body to release muscular tension. As the body is fully supported, we can relax into the shape of the pose and ‘receive’ rather than ‘do’ the pose.
Although the restorative poses might look easy and peaceful, they can be challenging especially for a beginner yogi. Be patient and give your body time to settle and release any built-up tension. Give yourself time.. In the restorative practice you create time to let go off your everyday stresses and truly let go
of any business and worries. You will be awarded with the ability to drop with ease into a place of deep contentment. Your body will relax, the mind will quieten, and you will rest quietly in the present moment and see clearly the peace that resides within you.
Main objective of this practice is to relax and restore. Let gravity do the work, connect with the breath. If your body gives you signals that you need to come out of these postures, please do. Focus is on the breath and calming our body and nervous system.
Restorative poses help relieve the effects of chronic stress with the help of props that provide a supportive environment for total relaxation. The restorative classes are designed to move the spine in all directions as healthy spine enhances our wellbeing. Some restorative poses are backbends, some are forward bends, side bends, spinal twists and supported inversions.
Supported inversions such as Legs up the wall reverse the effects of gravity. As we sit or stand most of the day, blood and lymph fluid accumulate in the lower extremities and by changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, the fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced.
During the restorative practice the heart rate slows down and our organs and nervous system is soothed. Restorative yoga balances energies and hormones in our body.
The benefits of the restorative practice also include becoming more patient, improving concentration, feel more grounded, sharpen intuition.
Some of my favourite restorative poses are:
Supported Savasana with a bolster under the knees, pillow supporting the head and an eye pillow across the eyes. Practice at the beginning and the end of your class. This soothing pose gives you a time to arrive, check in, slow down your breathing and activity of your mind. The support under the knees releases tension from the lower back
Reclined Cobbler where we lean a bolster on a stack of blankets or blocks and then lay back on it, with a block under each thigh, feet bound together by a strap. This pose provides opening to the hips and chest and invites time to focus on breathing and/or heart opening meditation.
Supported Bridge pose with a bolster under the lower back, knees bent, feet on the ground. This pose releases tension in the hips, abdominal muscles and chest. With the head lower than the heart we deepen the relaxation response.
Supported Childs pose with a bolster between the knees. Fold forward over the bolster and rest your head on it. Blanket may be placed either under the hips or on the lower back. This pose releases tension in the back and hips. The bolster provides a feeling of comfort and security.
Legs up the Wall – rest your legs on the wall and enjoy the soothing effect this posture has on your nervous system. Alternatively support your hips by a bolster or folded blanket and raise your legs up in the air. Excellent for your circulation and redirecting the blood flow to your heart and brain.
Soften, Relax, Release. It is impossible to have a peaceful mind in a tense body. It is impossible to have a relaxed body inside a cascading mind. To feel good you need peace. Calm your thoughts to calm your being. Relax your muscles to release distracting thoughts. The body remembers everything. Let go so you can feel good. Outside and In.
You are only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. (Walter Hagen)
To sum up:
Props uses in the restorative yoga –
Pace of the class –
Very slow, the postures are held for anything between 3-10 minutes (even 15 if time allows)
Release of muscular tension
Calming the nervous system
Sense of contentment and peace
Ability to let go of daily worries and stress
Improving patience and self-awareness
Balancing energies and hormones in our body
Connecting with breath
Giving yourself that much needed ‘me time’ to reset and recharge
Eva Kristlova is a professional yoga teacher living in East Sussex. Eva teaches online and in person and runs a beautiful yoga space, the Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne. Eva’s passion is bringing a slow, mindful and restorative practice into today’s fast paced world and helping her clients to reduce stress, anxiety and physical, mental and emotional tension. Eva’s restorative classes will leave you feeling completely nurtured, stress free and relaxed.
Eva would like to share a free Restorative class with you, all you need to do is e-mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos by @sarahcarmodyphotographyuk