In this hectic technological age, restorative yoga is a bountiful vehicle for easing tension and bringing forth a profound sense of calm. Try this deeply relaxing sequence, paired with introspective journaling, to get present and comfortable on and off your mat.
In YJ’s newest course, Restorative Yoga 101, Jillian Pransky, director of Restorative Therapeutic Yoga teacher training for YogaWorks and author of Deep Listening, will have you rethinking rest one deep breath at a time. This four-week program offers students an in-depth look at eight essential poses that will help you elicit the relaxation response, simple prop setups that will help encourage deep mind-body release and healing, guided meditative sequences and breathing exercises, mind-body alignment lectures, and personal inquiry. Eager to learn more? Sign up now.
Most people think of restorative yoga as a yummy, relaxing practice—a respite when you’re tired, injured, or you simply want to chill out.
And while that may be true, restorative yoga is also an advanced practice that requires a tremendous amount of dedication, patience, skill, courage, and compassion. It can be a deeply transformative path toward self-awareness, insight, and emotional and spiritual growth. While the practice presents a way to fast-track calming your nervous system—thanks to supported resting postures designed to be held for long periods of time—it can be hard to shed the racing thoughts and tension that most of us carry throughout the day. In fact, restorative yoga is closer to a meditation practice than a movement practice. It challenges us to slow down, relax, and be with ourselves.
With each breath we take during restorative yoga, we consciously unwind. This creates an opportunity to release deep tension, which leads to ease in our bodies and minds and even helps us notice the ways in which we keep working and doing, physically and mentally—even when it’s not necessary.
I created the restorative yoga practice on the following pages to help you relax but also to help you transition back into your day-to-day pursuits in a more mindful way, so you can make more-nourishing choices all day long.
The following poses use props—such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks—so that you don’t need to exert any muscular effort. During this practice, it’s important to let go of any stretching or strengthening goals you may have. Try these poses all at once or individually, at any time of the day. Enjoy them after a mindful movement practice if you wish. If you are new to restorative yoga, stay in each pose for 3–10 minutes, and come out when you feel you’ve had enough. As you become familiar with the poses and the practice of deep relaxation, you can extend to 10–20 minutes per pose. Stay still with the variety of sensations, thoughts, and emotions that may arise. Each pose is accompanied by journal prompts that will help you transition back into your day with purpose and poise.
About the Author
Jillian Pransky is the author of Deep Listening: A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and Open Your Heart (Rodale). She is an international presenter and Certified Yoga Therapist, and she has taught mindfulness, yoga, and meditation for more than 20 years. Learn more at jillianpransky.com.