The Benefits of Restorative Yoga

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As the holidays near, our calendars get busier with social activities, shopping, volunteering, and decorating.  During this busy time, it is more important than ever to take a few moments to relax and restore your body and mind.  Although the thought of a vacation is but a dream for most of us, we can take a mini-vacation while melting into the queen pose of restorative yoga – supported reclining bound angle pose.

Restorative yoga is a practice that is good for everyone and will leave your body feeling deeply relaxed, renewed, and restored.  Restorative yoga will also leave you feeling nurtured while deepening self-awareness. 

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Make an Appointment for Self-Care

The first step is to make a commitment by setting aside 20-30 minutes on your calendar. Then, get prepared to relax and unwind as you release built up stress and find a more gentle and calm place in your body and mind.

The supported reclining bound angle pose will renew your energy and create openness in your body while also calming your nervous system.  Other benefits are increased blood circulation in the abdomen, stretching the inner thighs, and opening the hips.

Whether you practice this pose in the morning to start your day, in the evening before bed, or while taking a break during the day, you are sure to feel more relaxed and focused afterward.

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Setting Up

In restorative yoga, taking care to set up your foundational support is essential to fully experiencing the benefits. Although not necessary, you might do a few stretches before entering this pose. Downward Dog, Cat/Cow, Forward Fold, and a Seated Twist are all great possibilities. 

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Props and Placement

The full compliment of props is listed below.  Don’t worry if you don’t have everything.  Gather what you have, improvise where you can, and you will be able to create an enjoyable experience.

  • Yoga Mat
  • 1-Bolster
  • 3-Blocks
  • 4-Blankets (one on bolster, one rolled at the end of bolster, and one on each side for arm rests)
  • Optional – a soft blanket to cover your body once in the pose, a small blanket or hand towel to support the neck, an eye pillow, and soft calming music in the background.

Find a quiet location and lay your foundation with your mat. Place the bolster at one end of your mat. Put one block underneath the bolster about 1/3 of the way from the top to form a soft incline. Fold blankets into fourths. Place one blanket smoothly on top of the bolster. Take another folded blanket and make a roll, putting it at the bottom end of the bolster to create an incline to support the lower back from the end of the bolster to the mat. Take the other two folded blankets and fold them once longways, then place one at an angle on each side of the bolster. These will be your armrests.

Place one block just outside each leg within reach. Place the extra blanket and eye pillow within reach (optional.) With your legs extended out front, snuggle up as close to the end of the bolster as you can. Bend your knees and bring your soles toward each other, allowing your knees to fall to the sides.

If you have a strap, make a large loop and then place it around the upper body, letting it fall around your waist.  Place the buckle on the side of your prominent hand and take the strap between your legs looping the end around both your feet. Loosely tighten the strap to ensure your legs and feet don’t slide away from your body, allowing for deeper relaxation while in the pose.If you have a sandbag, place it gently over both feet to aid in grounding.  

If desired, now is the time to unfold your blanket and cover your legs. Once you are in position on your support, you can pull the blanket up over the rest of your body. Take a deep breath as you sit tall. On an exhale begin to release your upper body onto the bolster.

Optionally, take a small blanket or hand towel and roll it up to create a neck support,  and then finish covering yourself if appropriate. Now gently place the eye pillow over your eyes.  Use a few drops of organic lavender essential oil on your eye pillow to enhance the experience.  

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Letting Go

Take a moment to scan and readjust in any way that might make you more at ease.   Ahhh…. you have arrived at your mini vacation. Your foundation and supports should allow you to feel comfortable just as if you have been swaddled in a cradle.

Take a few mindful deep breaths all the way down to your lower belly and up to your collarbone.  Notice the expansion of your lungs into your support with each breath. Feel the breath as it flows in and through the right side of your nostril and body and then do the same on the left side. With a few more relaxed deep breaths, feel all the places of your body filling with your breath.

Completely let go and rest in the rhythm of your breath while your whole body sinks a bit deeper into your supports.  For the next 10-20 minutes (or longer if you can,) see if you can allow the earth to rise up, cradle, and embrace you, letting go of all effort.  Allow your focus to be on the rhythm of the breath.

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Coming Out of the Pose

  1. Take your time as you come out of this deeply relaxing pose. 
  2. Allow your breath to deepen, make small movements with fingers and toes, and then draw your knees together, release your feet and straighten your legs as you reach your arms overhead.
  3. Bend your knees and rock them gently from side to side before rolling over to the side and pressing your way up to a seated position.
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Take a Brief Pause

Take a few moments to savor and feel the contentment this pose can bring.  There is an absolute value to self-care and Supported Bound Angle Pose helps us to embody our bodies and the concept of self-care. 

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Enjoy!

After your mini-vacation, you will be ready to continue your day with an element of ease and contentment, gained during this time of deep restoration.  Whenever you feel yourself moving back into a stress response, remember that feeling and reconnect with that relaxed state of mind and body.




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