Restorative Yoga: How to Do, Steps and Benefits

   |  Updated: April 11, 2017 18:00 IST

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Restorative Yoga: How to Do, Steps and Benefits
Highlights
  • Restorative yoga leads its practitioner towards a more healing experience
  • Its sequence consists of typically five to six poses
  • It comprises light twists, gentle backbends and seated forward folds
You may agree, in this fast paced life, we all need to slow down a little and spare some time to relieve the constant pressure and stress of winning the rat race and calm our mind, body and soul. This is when Restorative Yoga comes into play and provides a sense of physical and mental balance. For centuries, yoga has been a practice of choice by millions worldwide for regaining mental and physical strength. According to a survey in the year 2016, conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) - there has been a spurt in the number of Indians taking yoga by up to 30 percent, most of whom have been inspired by various celebrities and the media attention that it has garnered. Similarly, according to the release 2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, the number of US yoga practitioners has increased to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012.

Looking at the whopping increase of yoga practitioners in India and the US, we now know how people are preferring yoga over gym or any other activity. Considering the sedentary and pressured lifestyles today, restorative yoga is your savior and how.

What is Restorative Yoga?

With the influx of so many yoga styles, each conveying their own blend of postures, meditation, relaxation and philosophy, restorative yoga is one such yogic exercise that leads its practitioner towards a more healing experience that can help usher them into the world of peace and quiet. Restorative yoga generally relies on the use of props including pillows, blocks and straps to support your body in a full, comfortable and long stretch. According to renowned yoga expert, Priyanka Devi Gupta, this age0old practice is especially beneficial in today’s day and age.  “Restorative yoga is extremely beneficial for people having a hectic life and helps in slowing down the process. It helps you connect with your mind and body and also lets you focus on your breath.”

This sequence consists of typically five to six poses that allow you to take rest and relax on the given prop. Held for five minutes or more, restorative yoga comprises light twists, gentle backbends and seated forward folds.

How to Practice Restorative Yoga?

Here are five poses of restorative yoga and the steps involved in attaining these poses:

1. Legs-up-the-wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

This pose is a passive and supported variation of the shoulder stand. You will be required to rest your legs vertically on a wall as you lie on the floor. You would also require a thick blanket for support. This is a comfortable pose that will help you relax deeper. It aids mild depression and anxiety as it calms you down, further curing insomnia and other sleeping disorders.

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2. Corpse Pose (Savasana or Mrtasana)

Savasana or Corpse pose is synonymous to its name, which means to essentially place the body in a neutral position. This pose lets you lie flat on your back, preferably without any prop, with your eyes closed. You are required to release all the energy down and loosen the body to relax, while moving your attention to different parts of the body. If done well, this posture can help bring you to a meditative state of rest that helps in repairing tissues and cells and in relieving stress. It also helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety and sleeping disorders.

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3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Balasana or Child’s pose derives its name from two Sanskrit phrases, ‘child’ and ‘comfortable seat’. This pose involves kneeling on the floor by touching the toes and sitting on your heels, about as wide as your hips. Balasana is a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. This pose helps in stretching the hips, thighs and ankles. It calms the brain and reduces stress and fatigue.
 
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4. Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

Reclining hero pose or supta virasana is a reclining pose. To begin with, kneel on the floor, with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch the inner thighs together by bringing knees close to each other. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips. Once you get the position right, start lowering your torso towards the floor. Start by reclining back slowly. Your body is supported by your arms as you start going closer to the floor. Ensure that you are not in any way overstraining your muscles. This pose is excellent for aiding constipation and builds stamina. It also helps in eliminating anger and aggression.
 
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5. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) 

Reclining Bound Angle pose or Supta Baddha Konasana aka Reclined Cobbler’s Pose is deep relaxing position that requires you to lie down comfortable on your back with legs extended. Bend the knees to bring soles of your feet together to touch. Let the legs fall open on both sides. The natural tendency of the pose is to push the knees towards the floor. This pose stimulates abdominal organs like the ovaries and prostate gland, bladder and kidneys. It improves blood circulation and helps relieve the symptoms of stress, menstruation and menopause.
 
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Photo Credit: pranamayayogamedia/instagram

Priyanka explains, “Although all the poses are super beneficial, the corpse pose, child’s pose and reclining bound angle pose are super relaxing in their own way. Initially, it will be difficult to focus on your breath as random thoughts keep distracting the mind, however, with practice you will know the difference.”

What are the Benefits of Restorative Yoga?

Here are some of the benefits that restorative yoga has to offer to all the yoga practitioners:

1. Helps you calm down

Restorative yoga offers an excellent opportunity to cut chords and disconnect with the outside world and let you travel to the world of nothingness and helps in calming you down. As you move along, it helps you to get in to deepened awareness and meditation. Moving through the poses slowly, you will start exploring your mind and body at a very steady tempo.

2. It lets you learn the art of acceptance

Restorative yoga does not have a forced pose; hence, it lets your body release itself according to ease. It lets you accept the kind of body you have and throw away all the preconceived notions about it.
 
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3. It enhances flexibility

Although all the yoga poses make you a lot more flexible, however, practicing the restorative yoga makes the job easier. You generally explore what happens when your body releases all the tension.

4. It helps shed weight

Restorative yoga helps ion reducing cortisol levels that are also responsible for increased abdominal fat among other negative effects on our body.

5. It boosts your immune system

A regular restorative yoga practice actually helps improving the immune system. It is because the asanas (poses) nurture the body and induce relaxation response, while reducing the stress response, which further help in building a better immune system.
 
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6. It heals sickness and soothes your nervous system

Restorative yoga does not include any active asana, rather it lets you and your body relax. The body, while in such pose, heals itself and cures the sickness. It also provides benefits including promotion of smooth blood circulation and tissue renewal.

Restorative yoga takes your body into a state that allows rejuvenation and relaxation. Go ahead and try these relaxing poses and say hello to a quieter mind.

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