By definition, restorative yoga typically involves just a handful of poses and a range of props to help support your body, easing you into complete relaxation. Restorative yoga poses include light twists, small heart and hip openers, and gentle backbends.
Many yoga studios offer restorative classes as part of their schedule. However, not everyone has the luxury of attending an in-person 60 or 90-minute restorative yoga class and, in order to practice restorative yoga at home, you’ll tend to need multiple props. That’s where our flow comes in. Our restorative yoga sequence includes three movements to warm up the spine and core, followed by eight relaxing poses. Though you won’t hold a pose as long as you would in a typical restorative class, they still target the areas of the body in dire need of a gentle release.
Restorative yoga at home
Before you start practicing at home, there are a few things to consider. Here are our six tips:
1. Give yourself time
In restorative yoga, poses are held anywhere from five to 20 minutes. The longer holds allow your body to completely relax into a posture, so you reap the full benefits of the release.
Disclaimer: We won’t hold the poses that long in our 8fit restorative flow. That said, you could do the flow again on your own holding poses for longer once you get the hang of them. Make sure you leave a lot of time for savasana at the end. We recommend five to ten minutes.
2. Create a soothing space
It’s much easier to relax when you are in an environment that allows you to. Practice at a time when distractions are limited and if you’re worried that kids, pets or partners might interrupt you, communicate that you need X minutes of quiet time. Set your phone to silent and keep it out of view (unless you’re using it to follow our flow). Light a candle, dim the lights, hide any laundry or mess, and prepare to relax.
3. Select your poses with care
In-studio restorative yoga classes typically feature about five poses, but no more than 10. As there are so few poses in a restorative practice, choose your poses wisely. Do this by scanning your body and identifying where you feel sore, tight, or stressed. For example, if your lower back feels compressed, include a pose that’ll help with that. If your hips feel tight from prolonged sitting, cycling or running, choose poses that’ll allow that area to relax.
4. Prioritize props
For our restorative yoga sequence, you’ll only need a lumbar or bolster pillow. You might also enjoy having a blanket nearby to cover up for your savasana. If you include other poses in your practice, make sure you have the required props or fashion them from things you have around the house (e.g., pillows, blankets, books, short pieces of furniture).
5. Take control of the noise
If you live in a secluded area close to wildlife, consider cracking a window open and invite the sounds of nature into your space. If you’re in the city or a noisy suburb, do the opposite. Close the windows, find some soothing ambient music, and relax. No sound is A-OK, too.
6. Let your breath flow
When you settle into a restorative yoga pose, it often aligns your body in a way that allows your breath flow easily. Focus on letting gravity take over and letting your breath become full, deep and natural. This rhythmic breath sends “I’m safe” signals to your brain, furthering feelings of relaxation.
20-Minute restorative yoga sequence
In this restorative yoga sequence, expect to hold each posture for about one to two minutes. We’ll start seated, then move into warm-up postures, positions on the belly, forward folds, and reclined asanas, ending with savasana.
Heads-up: At the end of the video, Emily sets you up for savasana and the video fades out. Continue to rest in savasana for as long as your body wants to stay there. Aim to rest for at least five minutes, but since you won’t have a timer set, focus on your breath and unwind.
Key poses in this restorative flow
Supported child’s pose
The first pose in this flow is child’s pose. Kneel, separate your knees almost as wide as your mat, bring your big toes to touch, and place the pillow longways between your knees. Position the pillow so your sternum and left cheek can rest on it. You can let your arms rest by your sides or reach them forward. If you’re reaching your arms forward, allow your forearms to relax on the mat. Breathe here, turning your head about halfway through.
Come to your belly. Prop yourself up on your elbows, forearms flat and parallel to the side edges of the mat. Ensure that your elbows are right under your shoulders and palms are flat on the ground, creating a 90° angle with your arms. Gaze forward and draw your elbows back, opening your chest. Breathe deeply.
Downward facing fallen tree pose
From a sphinx pose, bend your right knee and place your toes by your left knee, coming into tree pose on your belly. Place a pillow under your right knee to elevate it. Lower down to rest your forehead on another pillow, a blanket, your arms or the mat. Stay for at least two minutes before switching sides.
Sit tall and bring the soles of your feet together, coming into butterfly pose. If your hips are tight and you’d like knee support, place a pillow, yoga block or blankets under each knee. Gently fold your upper body forward and relax into the posture.
Seated fold with bent knees
Sit on your sit bones and bend your knees, so your feet are planted flat on the ground. Place a pillow between your chest and your thighs and bow your head down, rounding your spine. Breathe as you let your body relax into the gentle fold.
Supine fallen tree pose
This pose is just like downward facing fallen tree pose explained above except instead of resting on your belly you rest on your back. Come into a reclined position with legs straight. Bend your right knee and place your foot on the inside of your left leg. Slide your pillow or blanket under your right knee and rest. Your arms can rest by your sides or on your belly. Breathe deeply for a minute or more before switching sides.
Savasana with knee support
Savasana is the most important pose in any restorative yoga sequence. In our flow, we rest with a pillow under our knees. We also recommend grabbing a blanket to cover yourself and stay warm. As you come into the pose, relax everything. Let your toes and feet relax, let your shoulders soften down away from your ears, and allow gravity to let your body to become heavy. Stay here for at least five minutes, closer to 10 is best.