What is restorative yoga and why is it practiced?
The subtle art of yoga, which goes back almost 5000 years, is practiced by millions around the world. Its asanas challenge your muscles to make your bodies healthier and stronger. On the other hand, there is a healing and passive form of this yogic practice that focuses on letting your body rest and open it through stretching and healing. This is known as restorative yoga or rejuvenating yoga.
The main focus of this yoga is to let your body be at peace without it going through any pain or strain. This slow-paced restorative yoga, which often combines meditation, is practiced by holding the poses for as long as 5 minutes.
At times, people even practice 30-minute restorative yoga.
Which are some of the best restorative yoga poses?
Here is a list of some of the most-effective poses of restorative yoga. You can use props such as yoga blocks, bolsters, or folded blankets as support to hold the poses.
- Balasana (Child Pose): One of the most effective poses of restorative yoga for back pain, it helps stretch your spine, shoulder muscles, hips, and glutes. It offers immediate relief from back pain too.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart.
- Place a folded blanket or cushion between your thighs for support.
- Exhale and gently bring your torso on your thighs and head towards the floor.
- Stretch your arms out in the front and place your palms on the floor.
- Hold this pose for a minimum of 5 minutes while breathing deeply.
- Release the pose gently and get back into the starting position.
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose): This is one of the best poses of restorative yoga for beginners, especially those who suffer from back or neck pain. This pose works by elongating your spine and releasing tension in your shoulders and neck.
- Place a couple of folded blankets or towels on your yoga mat parallel to each other.
- Sit on the yoga mat with the props behind your back.
- Lie down and rest your shoulders on one prop and your head on the second prop.
- Keep your legs folded or extended in the front.
- Keep your arms by your side.
- Breathe deeply as you feel the tension releasing from your body.
- Remain in this pose for 10-12 minutes and gently return to the starting position.
- Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): This is one of the simplest poses to practice restorative yoga at home. It has several benefits including relaxing your back and giving your hamstrings a good stretch.
- Get into a seated position.
- Stretch out your legs in the front and keep your feet hip-width wide.
- Put a folded yoga mat or blanket and place it beneath your knees. Place another prop in the front.
- Gently fold your torso forward and place your head on the prop.
- Rest your forehead on the prop and relax your body.
- Keep your arms by your sides.
- This can be done as a 30-minute restorative yoga pose.
- Supta Matstendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist Pose): This is one of the best poses of restorative yoga for weight loss. It works by stretching and strengthening your abdominal muscles helping your burn calories.
- Lie on your back and place a folded blanket under your head.
- Lift your knees slowly and bring them to your chest.
- Stretch your arms on your side and take both the knees on one side of the body.
- Place the prop between your ankles and knees and turn your head on the other side.
- Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 20-25 minutes and return to the starting position.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Sleeping Pigeon Pose): This is an excellent pose of restorative yoga for weight loss that helps crank up some serious calories. It also works as an effective pose of restorative yoga for back pain and helps stretch your back muscles.
- Get into all fours and lift your right leg and place your shin in the front.
- Your right foot must be close to your pelvis.
- Place a prop under the right sitting bone and inside of the right leg.
- Gently fold your body forward.
- Breathe deeply and stay in the pose for at least 10 minutes.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
What are the benefits of restorative yoga?
Here are some of the most important advantages of restorative yoga:
- It is an excellent practice of yoga for stress. Practicing restorative yoga regularly helps decrease the production of the stress hormone (cortisol) and reduces stress and anxiety.
- Restorative yoga strengthens your sympathetic nervous system that prepares your body to deal with triggers of stress. When you react to situations better, you feel more relaxed and in control of situations.
- This style of yoga is designed to make you relaxed and rejuvenate. With its mellow movements and an easy and calm atmosphere, it inculcates mindfulness. This helps in better concentration, focus, and creativity.
- Rejuvenate yoga is excellent for curing and preventing aches, pains, and stiffness.
- It improves your sleep patterns, which results in more energy, vigor, and enhanced overall wellbeing.
- Since it includes slow movements and long-held asanas, restorative yoga is perfect for people seniors or people who are healing from injuries or pains. Even pregnant women can practice this yoga after consulting their doctor.
- You can easily practice restorative yoga at home. It doesn’t need special equipment or expensive yoga studio memberships.
How to do restorative yoga safely to avoid injuries?
Here are some things that you need to keep in mind for practicing restorative yoga safely:
- Never practice yoga without learning the asanas correctly from an experienced yoga practitioner. You can also join online yoga classes. This helps prevent injuries.
- Give yourself realistic targets and build your practice slowly.
- If at any time during your practice you feel pain or dizziness, stop immediately.
Restorative yoga has incredible benefits for both your mind and body, especially in today’s chaotic world. However, the key is to practice it consistently. To gain more benefits from this, you can play calming music and couple the asanas with pranayama.
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