Restorative yoga challenges the mind and takes away the focus from speed, burning calories, and the whole notion of sweating it out. On the contrary, it lays emphasis on stillness, breathing, and meditation in their truest sense.
Props such as blankets, pillows, straps, and blocks are encouraged to assist in holding postures for longer, really allowing a deeper sense of relaxation, which in turn slows down the breath and ultimately relaxes the mind.
With some of the easiest poses in the book, this session is a complete joyride and will be your favorite among the lot.
Supta Padangusthasana, Or Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose
Benefits: Therapeutic for back pain, treating high blood pressure, menstrual cramps, weak knees, and aids digestion.
Step 1: Lie down on your mat, back flat on the floor. Make sure your head is rested comfortably and at level, if not, roll up a blanket and place it under your head.
Step 2: Relax your left leg on the floor, foot flexed, pushing through the heel, making sure the calf muscle does not lift up off the floor.
Step 3: Bend and pull your right knee up to your torso, and hug your thigh to your stomach.
Step 4: Now, take your strap and loop it around the arch of the right foot, holding the strap in both hands.
Step 5: Inhale as you straighten the knee and press the heel up towards the ceiling.
Step 6: Slowly walk your hands up the strap until the arms are fully extended, but be sure not to allow your shoulder to lift up off the floor. You want to keep the shoulder blades relaxed on the floor, pushing the collarbones down.
Step 7: Now slowly try drawing in the foot closer to your head. You should feel a stretch on the back of your leg. It will increase as you perform this action. If you are comfortable holding the stretch here, stay. Hold for 1-3 minutes, straight out.
Step 8: For those of you who would like to go further: Make sure you press your left thigh to the floor as you exhale, and turn the right leg outward from the hip joint and hold it a few inches off the floor.
Step 9: Keep rotating the leg and slowly start aligning the right foot and shoulder. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Step 10: Inhale and bring your right foot back up, heel pointed to the ceiling. Hold for 1-3 minutes.
Step 11: Gently let go of the strap and hold for 30 seconds. Gently exit and repeat on the other side.
Balasana, Or Child’s Pose
Benefits: Therapeutic for back and neck pain, calms the mind and tempers stress and fatigue.
Step 1: Sit in a kneeling position (vajrasana).
Step 2: Slowly, bend forward and place your forehead on the floor. Exhale as you gently lay your torso in between your thighs. Lengthen your back and neck, spine straight.
Step 3: Keep your arms resting by the sides of your body, and ensure that your hips remain planted atop of your feet. Hold position for 1-3 minutes.
Step 4: To exit, lengthen your torso, take a deep inhale and lift up from the tailbone, spine straight, belly tight. Exhale.
Savasana, Or Corpse Pose
Benefits: Treats insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and mild depression.
Step 1: Lie down on your back, try to keep the spine straight and back flat. Roll a blanket and use as support under you head if you feel any discomfort.
Step 2: Keep your heels together, feet flat and open, and arms close to the body with the palms facing up. Eyes closed.
Step 3: Relax the entire body completely, especially in places where you might hold tension, for example the jaw, tongue, toes, fingers, etc. Stay focused on inhaling and exhaling nice and slow, belly steadily rising and falling. For every 30 minutes of practice, ensure you are holding at least 5 minutes of savasana.
Step 4: To exit, exhale as you gently roll over to your right side. Take a couple of breaths, exhale and place your palms on the ground to lift yourself up, head last.
It is important to include these asanas into your practice at least once a week, as they soothe and stimulate the organs internally, ensuring heightened focus and clarity.