Sunday Restorative Yoga Sequence
Restorative Yoga is one of my absolute favourite styles of asana practice. The focus isn't on creating big stretching sensations or building big time strength like it sometimes is in Vinyasa Flow but rather on explicitly prioritizing the health of the nervous system; we want to intentionally dial down, drop inward and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to come on board so that real healing can truly occur. It's like the spa component of your self care routine; it's immensely valuable and all about indulging in pampered relaxation.
For this practice, you'll need one bolster, two cork blocks, two blankets, one strap and a little throw pillow. In Restorative Yoga, we use props to create an impeccable level of comfort for the body so that it can let out a big sigh of relief, recognizing that it is, in fact, fully supported, safe and being given permission to finally rest. This is your body's opportunity to rejuvenate itself.
1. Downward Facing Dog with Brow Supported on Block (1 minute)
Begin by gently pressing into an easeful expression of Downwards Facing Dog. Don't muscle your way into it; just imagine your own working with bones and breath right now. Choose a height for the block that allows you to rest your brow softly while ensuring your neck still feels long and spacious rather than compressed as though you're diving into a too shallow pool. Depending on your proportions, the block may or may not work for you; it should feel supportive, not cumbersome -- if it's the latter for you, drop the block and just stick with an easy feeling Downwards Facing Dog.
2. Supported Child’s Pose on Bolster (5+ minutes)
Straddle the bolster and draw it deep toward your groin; lower your torso onto the bolster and snuggle in with a big ol' hug. Place your brow or one ear on the bolster; if you've chose the latter, switch ears halfway through. (Option: Add a block underneath far end of the the bolster or folded blankets on top of the bolster to increase the elevation of your support so as to decrease the level of hip flexion present. Place a blanket under your knees for added comfort.)
3. Supported Fish Variation A (5+ minutes)
Create a "Burrito" shape* with your blanket and place it horizontally across the back of your mat. Lay back over top of your Burrito blanket so that it is in place beneath the bottom tip of your shoulder blades. Place your arms out to the sides, palms to the ceiling. (Option: Keep the knees bent, feet on the floor; Prop up your head with a pillow to reduce any discomfort felt in the neck)
* Burrito Blanket: a blanket that is carefully rolled up (round)
4. Supported Fish Variation B (5+ minutes)
Create a "Quesadilla" shape* with your blanket and place it lengthways along the back of your mat. Sit on your in front of the base of your Quesadilla blanket and lay back so that it is in place to support the entire length of your spine. Place your arms out to the sides, palms to the ceiling. I like to create a mound with my blanket underneath the curvature of my neck for increased support. (Option: use two Quesadilla blankets for extra elevation; prop up your head with a pillow to reduce any discomfort felt in the neck)
* Quesadilla Blanket: a blanket that is carefully folded up in layers (flat)