Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Elizabeth Street


At-Home Restorative Yoga Poses For Better Sleep and Less Stress

Dec 09, 2013

At-Home Restorative Yoga Poses For Better Sleep and Less Stress

In restorative yoga, specific poses are held for long periods of time. Bolsters, blocks and blankets are used to enhance the experience and deepen the experience. Along with bringing you better sleep, this brand of yoga is known to help alleviate depression, increase energy levels, and decrease stress.

Practitioners of yoga rave about the restorative classes. (They also tend to speak highly of yoga retreats, but we'll get to that.)

So why don't more women do it?

Most Vinyasa Yoga studios offer a variety of yoga classes: beginner, open (for more advanced), express (60 minute class as opposed to a 90 minute class), intermediate (for the in-between student), and restorative. But in my experience, few regular yogis opt for the restorative classes. For one, it's not a class that gets your heart rate up, and many yoga students desire the cardiovascular and strength benefits derived from participation in a fast-flowing Vinyasa class. Also, some students (and, I admit, I was once one of them) wonder if makes sense to pay twenty bucks to basically lie around and relax (albeit with the help of props and oftentimes a comforting hands-on instructor). 

But take a restorative class just once, and you'll wish you hadn't waited so long. The best part is that with minimal effort, you can recreate the peaceful scenario at home with a few handy tips, extra pillows, and self-discipline

Although it won't give you quite the same experience and memories, you can also bring the yoga retreat to your own home. Few of us have the bank (or the flexibility) to traipse on over to Canyon Ranch for a sophisticated yoga retreat that'll set you back close to $1500 for three days. But maybe we can get the house to ourselves for a long Sunday afternoon and plan for our own little escape (solo or with some yoga pals). Because the restorative poses are meant to be held for several minutes at least, you don't even need to worry about popping in a video and following a screen. All you really need to do is carve out some useable space (maybe it's next to your bed, in your dining room, or in the basement), roll out your yoga mat, set the music (optional) and sink into the poses as you would in a class. Feel your hips open more deeply, allow your shoulders to sink further into the ground beneath you, and make sure you're breathing. You'll emerge from the hour or ninety minute session with renewed energy, clearer eyes, and a feeling of peace.

If you wish to recreate a retreat-like atmosphere, make sure you have half a day at least. Shop ahead of time and plan for a healthy lunch. In between your slated yoga time, spend some time in your day reading or writing in a journal. Don't turn the television on, and don't even think about getting out your cell phone. Relish the quiet environment you've managed to turn your otherwise chaotic home into--even if it's just for the few hours your family has left you alone. 

For more details on a restorative yoga sequence, check out the video below. The slideshow above features stress-reducing apps to help ease you into a calmer state of being before you embark on your yoga journey.

By Stacey Gawronski
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