Restorative Yoga: A Practice for Deep Relaxation




If you've never experienced restorative yoga, you're in for a treat! This type of yoga is suitable for everyone—from beginners to advanced yoga practitioners. Restorative yoga is a restful yoga practice in which poses are held for longer periods of time for deep, passive stretches. Restorative yoga typically involves the use of props like bolsters, yoga blocks, cushions, and blankets.

In this 60-minute restorative yoga practice, I'll help you relax, relieve tension, and build communion between your body and mind. If you enjoy this practice, please find more classes with me on myYogaTeacher.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga offers several wonderful benefits:

Restorative Yoga Practice for Deep Relaxation

Let's start our restorative yoga practice with a gentle warm-up. Come to your hands and knees with your knees hip-distance apart and your toes tucked. Press your palms into the mat directly below your shoulders with your fingers spread wide. From here, we're going to flow through cat and cow 5 times.

Come to a comfortable seated position with your legs crossed. Interlock your fingers and gently bring your arms to the ceiling, lengthening your spine. Inhale. On the exhale, keep your spine lengthened and stretch to the right. Inhale back to center and exhale to the left. Repeat this stretch on both sides. Gently release your arms down.

Place your right palm on your left knee and roll your left shoulder back and down, placing your left hand on the mat behind you. Twist gently, looking over your left shoulder. Release to the center and repeat the twist to the right side.

Move your arms into eagle pose with your right arm over the left. Flow through cat and cow poses 3 times, keeping your elbows bent at 90º and your arms away from your body. Repeat this with your arms in eagle pose, this time placing your left arm over the right.

That should be enough to wake up your spine and make you ready for restorative yoga.

In this practice, we'll use a couple of different sizes of bolsters, but if you don't have bolsters you can put together two of the pillows you use at bedtime for the large bolster and use one pillow each for the two smaller bolsters. You'll also need two small cushions, a chair, and a small blanket.

We'll start by placing the chair at one end of the mat and placing the blanket, folded, in front of it. Lay down on the folded blanket on your side and roll onto your back, lifting your legs onto the chair. Your calves will be on the chair and your hips slightly away from the chair.

Place your arms by the side of your body, shoulders relaxed, and let your calf muscles melt into your chair (or bed, wherever you're using to hold your legs). Let your legs relax, your knees and feet rolling outward, naturally. Close your eyes and relax here, moving only to breathe with long, deep inhales and long, complete exhales. Consciously relax the back of your neck, relax your legs, keep your eyes closed. Spend the time relaxing and observing your breath. Stay in this pose for 5–10 minutes.

restorative yoga opening pose.png

Bring your awareness back to your body, gently wiggling your fingers and toes. Roll onto your side and lay there for a moment before sitting up.

Bring your large bolster in line with the center of your matt and put the two cushions at the top of it. Sit with your hips at the base of the bolster. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open. Use your two smaller bolsters to support your knees. Roll onto the larger bolster, keeping your hips grounded. Take a moment to roll your shoulders to the side and dropping your shoulders down. Adjust your hips to your comfort. Elongate your spine. Place your arms to the side of your body and relax in this position. Surrender your body completely to the asana and observe your breath. Stay in this pose for 5–10 minutes.

restorative yoga pose 2.png

Bring your knees back together, keeping the soles of your feet on the ground. Roll to one side and gently come to sitting.

Keep the large bolster where it is and remove any cushions you had on top of it. You're going to lean forward onto your large bolster, with your hips supported at its base. If you find that your torso is longer than your bolster, you can bring in cushions to support your face. Make sure they're the same height as your bolster to keep your spine neutral. In this position, rest your palms on the floor with your arms bent and forward. Relax your legs and your feet. If this isn't comfortable, feel free to separate your knees and bend them slightly so you can rest your legs. Let your body melt into the asana. Let go completely and observe your breath. Stay in this pose for 5–10 minutes.

restorative yoga pose 3.png

Gently press your palms down and tuck your toes. Lift your chest up and come up onto your heels to release the pose.

Now, we're going to move into a heart opener. Place your bolster perpendicular to your mat. Roll onto the bolster, letting the bolster support your back just below your shoulder blades. Let your head rest back onto a cushion. Your arms will relax over your head, shoulders dropping down and elbows in line with your shoulders. Your palms will face up. Adjust your body as needed for comfort. This position gently opens your chest, bringing you into a small backbend position. Continue breathing in and out, and relax into the pose. Stay in the pose for 5–10 minutes.

restorative yoga heart opener.png

Bring your awareness back to your body. Bend your knees and relax your shoulders and elbows. Roll to one side and gently come up to sitting.

Bring your large bolster underneath your knees, preparing for savasana. Lie back and let your knees rest on the bolster, falling out to the side. Completely relax your legs. Place a cushion under your head if you need the support. You can also cover yourself with your blanket for added comfort. Relax your body completely with your arms out to your sides, palms up. Relax here for as long as you'd like (we recommend at least 5 minutes).

restorative yoga supported savasana.png

Bring awareness back to your body. Feel where your body meets your mat, bringing awareness to each area of your body, starting with your head and moving all the way down to your feet. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes and slowly turn your head on your pillow from side to side. Interlock your fingers and stretch your arms over your head for a nice, deep stretch. Roll to your side and when you're ready, come up to a cross-legged position.

Bring your palms to your heart center, close your eyes, and take a moment to connect with your breath and your body. Observe your breath. Take a deep breath in and exhale completely. Close your restorative yoga practice with a chant of Om, 3 times. Rub your palms together and place your cupped palms over your eyes. Move your palms back to heart center, namaste.

If you're interested in more restorative yoga with me, sign up for a free trial of myYogaTeacher and get access to not only this class but 35+ live classes every single day.

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