This is a restorative and pranayama class for Level 1/2 yoga students.
We start the session with a gentle asana practice, as a way of preparing the body for deeper relaxation. Ardha Uttanasana against the wall gently eases the spine and stretches the hamstrings. Adho Mukha Svanasana, a gentle standing forward bend and inversion, helps us clear the mind. We follow this with some shoulder-opening exercises in Tadasana: Urdhva Baddangulyasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Garudasana Arms, Gomukhasana Arms, and Vrksasana. They soothe tension and bring life back to the shoulders.
Starting this session with this type of brief asana practice enables us to settle into our bodies and enhance our self-awareness before transitioning to the more restful and meditative section of our class.
Now we move onto the restorative and pranayama section of the class. For this part, we will be using the support of folded blankets and bolsters. We will hold Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana for a few minutes, focusing on the openness and release in the back body. Supta Swastikasana allows us to sink deeper into relaxation and inner reflection. Before moving onto the last part of our session, we will take our legs up the wall for several minutes to let our bodies experience the benefits of a mild inversion. See how much relief this position brings to our legs, as the blood flows down towards our hips and pelvis.
The session ends with a couple of variations of Savasana. We start by using a folded blanket beneath our head and upper back to incorporate a mild bend into our spine. Then, we will move onto the classic Savasana but we will add a weight in the form of a bolster or several blankets placed over our legs. It’s interesting to see how the use of this weight helps to ground us even further, ensuring we do not lose ourselves in relaxation completely but retain a focal point to aid us in the experience of a more mindful form of relaxation.
Incorporating restorative sequences into a yoga practice, especially at the foundational levels, holds immense significance. Restorative postures nurture a deeper understanding of the importance of taking a step back, teaching students the art of surrender and introspection. These gentle poses offer a safe space for beginners to explore the subtleties of their bodies, facilitating a profound connection between breath, movement, and the present moment.
The benefits of restorative sequences are abundant. They alleviate stress and fatigue, inviting a sense of rejuvenation and replenishment, especially when combined with more strenuous sessions during the week. Restorative sessions stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of deep relaxation that enhances overall well-being. For beginners, these sequences help build a strong foundation, fostering body awareness, and encouraging a compassionate approach to self-care within the practice.