In a Restorative Yoga class, we deeply explore the interdependence between mind and body. That connection is there in all other yoga classes, but the emphasis is often on movement, not stillness. Restorative yoga embraces the power of passiveness. Tune out everything else so you can tune into your body, your breath.
Prop usage comes down to 3 basic elements: structure, space, and shape. First, the student’s body should be fully supported by props. Like a firm foundation for a house, the props should anchor the body so its full weight is supported. Often times, we can use 10 -11 props for one person! Second, fill any spaces with props so the student is fully connected to the earth. Look for gaps under the legs, or use props to elevate the dangling arms. Third, notice if the student’s body is exhibiting soft lines, or whether they look tense or uncomfortable. By experimenting with different props, you will find the right combination when the student lets out that familiar “AHHHHH” sound.
Props in a Restorative Yoga class can be many different things: mat, blanket, bolster, block, strap, wall, chair, eye pillow, towel, sandbag, or another person. It is an integral part of a Restorative class to allow a teacher to help the student get into a comfortable position. It may be to help place props for the student, it may be a gentle touch on the shoulder to help remind the student to relax, or it may be to temporarily provide needed support to someone’s back while in a side-lying position. Other aids for a restorative class can be soft music, low lights, essential oils, chants, poetic readings, or saying a few words about the chakras. With that being said, as a student you always have the right to refuse physical adjustments, just let the teacher know ahead of time.
If you are interested in learning more about Restorative Yoga, “Relax and Renew” by Judith Lasater is a great place to start. She was a student of B.K.S. Iyengar who was known for his use of yoga poses (asanas) and breath (pratyahara) to inhibit the stress-response, thus activating the healing and repairing systems of the body for optimal health. Lasater experienced firsthand the healing that comes with practicing these soothing and quieting poses, and now passes on her knowledge to others worldwide. Another option is to try Nimaste’s Yin/Restorative class on Sunday nights at 7:00pm. Hope to see you there!
The Namaste From NiMaSte Blog is written by the Nimaste Yoga staff.