These are my top three favorite Restorative Yoga reclined positions. I also have a YouTube video available in case you need more details for the poses below. Any questions feel free to email me ReikiEnergyYoga@gmail.com
For all of the shapes, I have a blanket covering my sticky yoga mat for added padding. Also make sure you are warm…wear socks, have a blanket to cover up completely, etc. If you feel safe to do so, close your eyes and use a light-weight eye pillow or scarf to block out any light from your room. I am showing the usage of yoga props but any bath towels, bed pillows, couch cushions, can be utilized from around your house.
Note that all of the poses I have learned from my studies with Judith Hanson Lasater. If you need more info on Restorative Yoga, check out my previous blog post (Restorative Yoga 101).
Supported Backbend (with 1 blanket)
- Props = 1 blanket
- Fold your blanket or towel so that it is the length of your torso from the very bottom of your shoulder blades to the top of your pelvis. Note I am showing using one blanket but you can add an additional blanket on top for more height.
- Make sure the smooth folded edge of the blanket is facing towards your head.
- Sit on your mat. Lay down on your blanket support so that the very bottom of your shoulder blades are on the folded smooth edge. This creates a feeling that your low ribs are expanding upwards and outwards aka creating a backbend shape.
- Duration = 2 to 10 minutes
- Benefits = Opens up the front of the body; Provides a calming effect by slowing brain waves (head is below heart); Low back relief after sitting all day
- Props = 1 blanket for head support, firm rectangle bolster, 2 blocks
- Create a head support with a blanket. This will be positioned under the entire head, cervical spine and under the very top of the shoulders. In anatomy terms, you have the support under the intersection of C7/T1 which is the base of the neck where it meets the thoracic spine at the top of the shoulders. I am showing using a fleece blanket which I find the most comfortable.
- Set up your bolster on two yoga blocks. The blocks are at the medium height to create an equal sign. They are positioned about a hand print distance apart.
- When you lay down, the back of your knees touch the front edge of the bolster and your feet hang out in space, a little lower than your knee level.
- Duration = 10 to 20 minutes
- Benefits = Reduces muscle fatigue in legs from standing or walking all day. Helps to drain fluid from the legs as well.
Basic Relaxation Pose
- Props = Important props here are the head support and under the knees. Other props you can add as you wish.
- Create the same head support as the previous pose.
- Use a firm round bolster under your knees as well as a smaller prana bolster or rolled blanket under the back of your ankles (Achilles tendons). Noting that the height of your knees in this pose is twice the height from the ground as your ankles.
- Your heels are elevated off the ground.
- Your arms are out to the sides, palms facing up to the ceiling. Hands and wrists supported with small throw pillows or additional blankets.
- Eye pillow.
- Duration = 10 to 20 minutes
- Benefits = Creates potential for deep relaxation. Slows down heart rate and respiratory rate. Lowers blood pressure. The body relaxes the best when you have the most flexion (think bent knees for example). This poses creates almost a wave to the body which is soothing.
My Yoga Props
Restorative Yoga does use a ton of props. When you are first starting, just use the items around your house. You can even make a bed pillow into a firm bolster by wrapping a blanket around it tightly and securing it with a string. If you would like to have more info on the items I am using in the post, here is my list. Note that I am just putting the brand name. You can search for these on Amazon, YogaOutlet or the brand’s site themselves.
- Blankets =
- Fleece one for under my head = Life is Good brand, I only found this during December but these fleece type blankets are easy to find with many brands.
- Purple and off-white ones that are more “traditional” 100% cotton blankets, I like the smooth edges = Kakaos Brand
- Mexican yoga blanket (blue striped one with tassels in supported backbend image) = You can find these online easily, I got mine from Amazon awhile back. I only have one of these and use it when I want a thicker blanket.
- Eye Pillow = You want either a scarf or a very light-weight kind. You do not want a heavy pressure on your eyes for a long period of time. I purchased mine from Amazon, brand is Clocktower Fitness. It is also unscented which is nice since smells are linked to our memories so having no scents is important.
- Rectangle and also Round Bolster = Hugger Mugger
- Small prana bolster (gray one under my ankles) = Brentwood Home, they have a Crystal Cove yoga collection of meditation cushions and bolsters.
- Blocks = Hugger Mugger
- Yoga mat = Liforme
- I have purchased a lot of props that did not work out so well, so if you think I can be of any help, please email me with any prop questions. ReikiEnergyYoga@gmail.com