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Classic Restorative and Pranayama Session

A classic restorative and pranayama session aimed at all students.



We often don’t recognise when it would be useful to calm our nervous system and go more deeply inside to experience and observe our breath. It seems easier to do more, to go a little harder, to stay with the external. Instead, sometimes when we take the time and allow ourselves to settle into a quieter internal rhythm, it feels right. We realise that it was something that was missing and that it brings us more into feeling balanced.

See what this session brings.

Step-by-step guide to the sequence

Set up for Supta Baddha Konasana, using an extra folded blanket for under the knees to release the hips and groins. Simple cross-legs forward and then come up for Uttanasana with a wide stance, feet at the outer edges of your mat. Follow with Adho Mukha Svanasana with hands to the wall and the head supported onto a bolster or blanket. Prasarita Padottanasana comes next, also with a support under the head if you don’t easily reach the floor. Stay a few extra breaths.

Prepare now for Cross bolsters with head back and shoulders off the floor. You can use a few folded blankets instead of the bottom bolster if you only have one bolster. Observe the length in the front and back of the body.

Setu Bandha with a bolster or folded blankets, with an extra blanket folded under the upper thoracic area to open the side chest. Observe the diaphragm, the lower ribcage opening and how your normal breath comes when you are in this position.

The last restorative asana is Viparita Karani, with the buttocks placed onto a bolster, plus some extra height. Notice the space and softness around the lower abdominal area and how this affects the exhalation as you stay in the pose.

You may now notice, as you come down from Viparita Karani, how much quieter you might feel, a bit slower, despite our common tendency for our head to be a bit busier. This means we are now ready to approach Pranayama.

Lie over two half-folded blankets, placed just a little below the lower tip of the shoulder blades. This helps to open the back ribs, but also the area of the “eyes of the chest”, just below the mid-breast line. Feel the breath as it lengthens and deepens, finding its own pace. Watch the physical movement of the breath, keeping the eyes soft and the face quiet. Ujjayi Pranayama.

Then come up for sitting Ujjayi, and then Anuloma Pranayama, digital pranayama working with the exhalation through alternate sides of the nose. This is an especially calming and quietening form of Pranayama, one of the “internal” pranayama techniques.

After completing the last Anuloma cycle, lie out in Savasana for some minutes, to savour the quietness and to experience the after-effects of this session.

View sequence

Supta Baddhakonasana
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Join your feet together, your heels pressed to your pelvis. Lie back over a bolster or other form of support. Relax and let your chest open. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Adho Mukha Sukhasana Simple Cross Legs Forward
Simple Cross Legs Forward
Sit with your legs crossed. Keep your sit-bones pointing downward as you fold forward over your legs to capacity, lengthening your spine.
Standing Forward Bend
Starting in Tadasana, exhale and reach down towards your feet. Let your spine release downwards. You can bend your knees or place your hands on blocks if you lack the necessary flexibility.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Head Down)
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Plant your feet as wide apart as you can. Place your hands on the floor and lengthen forward through your spine. Once you have achieved the concave spine, start to walk your hands backward to capacity, aiming to lengthen and release your spine as evenly as possible.
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Supported Bridge Pose
Lie down over support placed under the whole of your body from the thoracic spine down to your knees. The shoulders swoop down to touch the floor. Spread your arms outward or slightly at your side. Activate your feet and press them into the wall.
Supta Swastikasana
Simple Cross Legs Lying Back
Cross your legs and lie back over support or straight onto your mat.
Viparita Karani
Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Bring your hips up to the wall and lift your legs up against it so that they're perpendicular to the floor. You can use a bolster or other form of support under your hips and lumbar spine to incorporate a mild backbend into the pose.
Supta Swastikasana
Simple Cross Legs Lying Back
Cross your legs and lie back over support or straight onto your mat.
Lying Back Over Bricks Step 3
Place support under your upper body, buttocks, and thighs. Lie down and breathe.
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.