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Restorative Yoga

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Updated July 11, 2014

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Supported Paschimottanasana

Debra McClinton/The Image Bank/Getty Images

In restorative yoga, props are used for support the body so that you can hold poses for longer, allowing you to open your body through passive stretching. The postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses with the addition of blocks, bolsters, and blankets to eliminate unnecessary straining. For instance, a seated forward bend (paschimottanasana) can be done with a bolster or several folded blankets on top of the legs so that your forward bend is fully supported with the entire torso resting on your props. Legs up the wall (viparita karani) is a classic restorative, with the wall used as a prop to support the legs. Other adaptations of goddess pose and bridge pose can be seen in the Restorative Poses Photo Gallery.

What to Expect

Restorative classes are usually very relaxing and are a good complement to more active practices. The teacher will arrange for the necessary props to be available to you. The lights may be dimmed and if it is chilly, you may be covered with a blanket since you will not be warming up the body the way you would be in a regular class. After you are set up in a pose with all your props, you will hold the pose for an extended period, often up to ten to twenty minutes. Although you are supported, you will definitely still feel the stretch. It's a relaxing style of practice that leaves you feeling open and refreshed.
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