Restorative yoga is a quiet time to physically unwind the body. It is probably the slowest paced of the yoga styles. Soft props like blankets, bolsters (think: giant pillow), and foam blocks support you. They dim the lights and play soothing music. You relax in different positions, letting your chest open, your back stretch, and your mind unwind.
Read: It feels really good.
Runner’s legs won’t get long, grueling stretches in this style. Instead you will be allowing all your muscles to relax and de-stress, especially the back and hips. For runners, this is a great change of gears in your high-speed life and reduces your chances of burn-out.
While some (including me, at times) have called this class, “Adult Nap Time”, I do want to warn you that sometimes when you are relaxing into these postures, a sense of shapelessness comes over you. It can lead you to feel vulnerable and let underlying emotions to surface. It allows for an opportunity for emotional healing, as well as physical.
Unlike Yin yoga, it didn’t take me any time to learn to love restorative yoga. I treasured this quiet, dark time to let my back un-clench, to require nothing, and have nothing be required of me. This class was a good-for-me reward for each week’s running.
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
- Deeply relaxes the body
- Stills the mind
- Enhances mood
- Boosts immunity
- Slows the heart rate
4 of my Favorite Restorative Yoga Poses
Gentle way to warm up the spine and open chest, exhaling into cat pose (back arching up) and exhaling into cow pose (back arching down). Click here for more information.
Seated spinal twist
Stretches shoulders, hip, neck, and spine. And I’ve now learned that this pose is called “Half Lord of the Fishes”, so there’s that. Click here for more information.
Stretches hip, thigh, and ankle. Click here for more information.
Extends and supports back. Releases front hip flexors. Click here for more information.
Waterfall or Legs up the wall
Sources and Further Reading:
- Ekart Yoga’s Restorative Yoga article – Lists restorative yoga benefits and principles
- Breaking Muscle’s What the Heck is Restorative Yoga and Why Should I Do It? – A high-energy boxer tries out restorative yoga and is challenged to be still and quiet
- Greatist’s Restorative Yoga Infographic – 6 Restorative Yoga poses and how to do them (including a few that I’ve listed above)