Restorative yoga involves resting in asanas (postures) supported by props in order to gain the beneficial effects of yoga, without strain. The use of props makes this yoga available to all, regardless of age, health, stamina or expertise.
Props allow the body to attain alignment and openness to improve circulation, stimulation, calming and breathing. Passive backward and forward bending, inversions and twists are all possible with the use of props. Muscles are activated, organs toned, flexibility and stamina are increased, systems soothed all with minimal effort. Physical and mental stresses are reduced which assists the body’s natural ability to heal.
The perfect time to practice restorative yoga is at times of stress, fatigue, nervousness, lethargy, mood swings, agitation and anxiousness. Chronic health conditions, grief, recovery from illness and trauma are also times to benefit from this passive practice. Once the body is positioned in the asana, both the breath and the mind have an opportunity to permeate the body. The practice becomes an internal journey building emotional stability and will power. Patience, endurance and acceptance accompany the resulting calmness of mind.
Along with cautions and contra-indications the student of restorative yoga should be mindful of maintaining balance. There are three types of balance:
- balance of the passive yoga practice with active asanas or some other style of physical exercise, not allowing the body to become sluggish and dull by over practicing restorative yoga,
- balance within the restorative practice itself so that the practice is neither overly introverted (forward bending) nor extroverted (backward bending), and
- the balance which comes from the extreme honesty and inquiry when settling into daily practice, settling into each pose and settling into each breath, settling into the moment. It is possible to both under and over work even in restorative poses.
A well balanced practice will conserve as well as build energy, neither overstimulating nor depleting prana (energy). Restorative yoga provides maintenance for both body and mind. It is a sensitive and powerful tool available to everyone.
On average the poses are held for around 10 minutes. During this resting period Heather provides instruction on how to be in the pose. She weaves into these instructions the four establishments of mindfulness; mindfulness of body, mindfulness of feelings, mindfulness of thoughts and mindfulness of the nature of existence.