Restorative Yoga With Bolsters Or Blocks:
Restorative yoga offers the ultimate form of relaxation and healing to the body. With a few simple yoga props and a quiet space to practice, you can enter a state of deep calm and restoration. Restorative yoga is a slower and more sedated type of yoga, that entails different types of passive stretching. Moreover, offering different benefits then styles such as; Hatha, Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga. Furthermore, you can amp up restorative yoga with bolsters or blocks.
We’ll get into the basics of restorative yoga. In addition, discuss using yoga bolsters and yoga blocks with this style.
Why Should You Add Bolsters and Blocks to Your Practice?
To properly perform restorative yoga, you may need a few different tools. Props like blankets, bolsters, or yoga blocks, are sometimes helpful for your practice to complete certain asanas with more effectiveness. Specifically, for beginners. These props can aide in holding poses for longer durations then with more traditional styles of yoga.
Restorative yoga involves holding asanas for prolonged periods of time. Oftentimes, 10 minutes or longer. However, 5-10 being the norm. In all actuality, your sessions may only last for a handful of asanas. Hence, you’ll want to help support your body with bolsters, blocks, or blankets. Furthermore, adding to effectives and comfort of each session.
In popular Vinyasa yoga, or flow yoga, sequences are going to occur quicker. These types of yoga maneuvers activate and stimulate many different muscle groups throughout sequences. However, with restorative yoga, it is a relaxed type of practice. Particularly, one that engages aspects of stretching of specific muscle groups, for a prolonged period of time. As you progress with each hold, your stretches should get deeper.
Many follow-up a flow yoga session or other fast paced yoga routine with restorative yoga. Consequently, the muscles are warmed-up. Thus, making it easier to get that deep stretch. This type of therapeutic practice is fantastic when used as a cool-down session. As a result, slowing breathing, blood pressure, and other physiological functions, back to normal.
Benefits of Restorative Yoga With Bolsters Or Blocks:
1. Deeper Relaxation
One purpose of restorative yoga is to help get you in tune with your body and mind. With longer poses, you have the chance to really sink into yourself and experience the present. Not only that, the longer you’re able to maintain the pose, the better possible stretch you can endure over the duration of the pose. Thus, ultimately leading to better overall muscle endurance, flexibility, and potentially decreasing risks for injury.
At first, this slow-paced yoga form might seem boring. However, when practicing the restorative style, you should be aware of it’s purpose. It’s about restoration of the mind and body. Not necessarily, high intensity, face-paced sequences. It’s slower in nature. Thus, allowing for healing time.
Yoga in general is a mind-body exercise. Furthermore, helping to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety. Yoga itself, supports stress management and mental health.
According to IJOY or The International Journal of Yoga, yoga should be considered as a complementary method in treatment for certain disorders. Yoga has shown to increase feelings of relaxation, improve confidence, and lower irritability. These include stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
2. Helps With Muscle Tension and Flexibility
Feeling tense and sore, often? Restorative yoga might be able to help. Maintaining postures for longer durations, allow the muscles to stretch and elongate. Indeed, as a beginner yogi, you may experience stiffness or tension of muscles, especially in poses that may be new to you. In time, you can improve your range of motion, thus, learning to open up your body to more difficult asanas.
According to one 10-week study, which included college athletes, it was suggested that regular practice may increase flexibility and balance. This was particularly in male college athletes.
Another study published in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity provided evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults to improve areas of balance, flexibility and strength!
In addition, you’ll expand on your flexibility and strength as you do poses. Oftentimes, using props makes restorative yoga more comfortable. Potentially, even more effective. The combination of yoga props and restorative postures allows you to improve your yoga potential on the yoga mat, and actually can increase effectiveness and body alignment.
3. Reduces Stress
Finally, restorative yoga is a great stress reliever! Experience stress on a regular basis? Stress levels out of control? If so, yoga, and in particular restorative yoga, may aide in symptom relief and some amount of healing.
Furthermore, restorative yoga may provide support of sleep troubles. Oftentimes, stress and anxiety filled minds, make it hard to get a solid nights rest. Restorative yoga can provide opportunity for a more relaxed state of mind, calm and peace over-time. Thus, helping you to focus, freeing the mind of negative daily thoughts (past or present).
Studies have actually shown that yoga can help with sleep quality and overall quality of life. So start performing yoga for better sleep!
Beginner Poses With Bolsters and Blocks:
1. Restorative Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is a very popular restorative yoga posture. In addition, it is completed in the prone position. This simple beginner’s pose can be extremely relaxing, and is what makes it prefect as a restorative-type asana, with a focus on the lower/upper back and knees.
Firstly, set your yoga bolster down on your mat. It helps if your bolster has good length to it. This way the majority of your upper body can relax on-top of it. Allow the bolster to support your weight. Breath slowly, in and out.
Once the bolster (or blanket) is on the ground, kneel down on your mat. Place your knees around the bolster, then bend over the bolster for Child’s pose. You should be laying down on your bolster with your palms to the ground (or wrapper around the top of the bolster). Additionally, your head tilted to the side, for easier breathes.
Overall, this is a pretty basic restorative pose.
2. Supported Savasana
Another restorative pose to try with your bolster or multiple bolsters is a supported Savasana or Corpse pose. Savasana is usually done at the beginning or end of your practice. This is another beginner maneuver, that is done supine, focusing on relaxation, and breathing. Specific benefits for the lower and mid-back.
Place your bolster(s) down on your mat. The bolster should be positioned under your knees. You may apply an additional bolster or blanket underneath your head and upper back.
Maintain this pose for several minutes. Keep your hands on your stomach (or off to the side of your body). Focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out, noticing each sensation in your body, letting go of all tension.
3. Supported Bridge Pose
The next pose can be done with a yoga block, bolster or blanket, depending on your comfort level. Another beginner pose that is done in the supine position. It can benefit muscles in your chest, pelvic region, as well as your lower, middle and upper back.
The supported bridge pose is a great back-bend type stretch. However, you’ll want to ensure that you’re putting your block in the right position, to be able to maintain this pose.
Get into Bridge pose first, keeping your block nearby, (you can also do this with blankets, adding more under your back as you feel more comfortable to gain a greater stretch).
Lie on your back with hands to your side. Then, bend your legs and plant them into the mat. Push upward so your back is lifted off the ground, then reaching for your block.
Place it underneath your sacrum (or slightly above), which is the lower back area. Lower yourself back down onto the block. Your head and shoulders should be on the mat, but your hips, glutes & thighs should be elevated by your block.
This is definitely more involved than the other two poses we introduced, especially holding if for extended periods of time. Try and hold the supported bridge pose for at least 5 minutes, build up every session, extended your time.
4. Supported Forward Bend
Forward bends can be done with the aid of a yoga bolster or block. This is another fairly easy and basic restorative pose, done in the standing position. This yoga position can help your lower back and stretch your hamstrings.
To get into Supported Forward Fold, stand in front of your yoga block. Inhale and stand-up tall, exhale and bend forward. Place your hands on-top of the block for assistance.
As you get better with this asana, you’ll move away from a larger block to a smaller one, or maybe transition the block to a horizontal position.
5. Supported Fish Pose
Finally, the last restorative pose with blocks and bolsters we’ll discuss in this post is Supported Fish pose. Supported Fish pose is another great back-bend. Individuals who have a lot of tension in their back or pain may try this pose. Like other poses, this should not cause intense pain, if so, STOP!
You can use either a block or bolster for this asana as well. Oftentimes, a bolster is more comfortable. This asana is great for the lower back, neck and chest.
To start restorative Fish pose, lay your block or bolster down. Position yourself (in the supine position) over said prop, making sure the location is in-between your shoulder blades (can be slightly lower).
Your legs will stay firmly planted on your mat, however, arms should be suspended off to the side, (use another support for your neck if need be). Keep your arms lifted above the mat slightly. In addition, concentrate on “bending” into your bolster.
Restorative yoga with bolsters or blocks is a fun place to take your yoga routine(s). It is just another way to add some flexibility and change up your sessions that adds a new dimension of endurance and stretch to and for joints, and muscles.
It is a great way to connect mind and body, a togetherness that may be hard to find for some.
Please be sure to share your experiences with restorative yoga or any other type of yoga for that matter on our blog. Let’s help each other have a more sound body and mind!