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Rest is best! Restorative yoga as a gentler path to greater well-being

Updated: May 3


"When we practice Restorative Yoga, we are teaching our nervous system how to release contraction and to feel safe coming into deep states of rest that support repair, rejuvenation, and resilience."

- Dr. Gail Parker, psychologist and yoga therapist


restorative yoga setup
my favourite restorative yoga set up

If you've been lucky enough to be introduced to my super comfy yoga bolsters during our evening classes in Tignes, you've already had a little insight into the delightfully relaxing world of restorative yoga.


Read on to find out more about this greatly beneficial practice that invites us to slow down in a world that seems to be constantly moving faster.


What is restorative yoga?


Restorative yoga is a deeply restful, introspective and therapeutic style of yoga that involves holding supported poses for longer than in a traditional yoga class, with the intention of relaxing and unwinding muscular tension and calming the nervous system.


Most poses are practiced lying down on the mat, using props such as bolsters, cushions, blocks, blankets and straps to support the body, enabling deep states of relaxation and encouraging deep rest and healing.


Why restorative yoga?


Do you ever feel like life seems to be moving faster and faster? Technological advances and societal "more, more, more" pressure have us living in a constantly busy, overstimulated, and high-pressured world, where more often than not it feels easier to speed up rather than to slow down.


While this might be great for productivity, placing more and more demands on our time and headspace without taking time to rest and recuperate wreaks havoc on our nervous system, and in turn, on our overall health and well-being.


Do you ever feel as though your internal battery is completely drained, or suffer with stress, burnout, perfectionism and productivity guilt? We spend more and more of our lives in this constant state of fight-or-flight, and less and less time down-regulating our nervous systems back into the rest-and-digest, parasympathetic state in which our bodies repair, rest and restore.


It's so rare that we offer ourselves to simply be - without doing, producing, working, creating, believing that we must always be doing more to get get where we need to be. But how about if taking time to fill your own cup and becoming fully present with our bodies through deep rest was the most productive, supportive and important thing we can do?


a restorative yoga class in Tignes
a restorative yoga class in Tignes

Restorative yoga offers us this time to simply be, and offers respite to our over-stimulated nervous systems, encouraging the activation of this rest-and-digest response of the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate and encouraging blood flow to vital organs of the digestive and endocrine systems.


Benefits of restorative yoga :


  • promotes deep relaxation for body and mind

  • releases muscular tension, encouraging greater mobility and flexibility

  • cultivates mindfulness

  • supports healing from illness, injury or trauma

  • boosts mood and reduces anxiety and stress

  • stimulates parasympathetic nervous system, thus

    • improves sleep quality

    • boosts the immune system

    • improves digestion

    • relieves symptoms of stress and burnout

    • improves energy levels

  • develops greater compassion towards self and others


Sound like something you might benefit from? Beginning your own restorative yoga practice is super simple and accessible :


  • begin by creating a quiet, calm environment where you won't be disturbed - you can light candles, burn incense or essential oils, put on a relaxing playlist (check out my yoga playlists on Spotify here) and create your own sacred space where you can deeply relax

  • you don't necessarily need a yoga mat, just a comfy carpet or rug will do

  • grab whatever props you might have - the more the better! You can use a blanket for extra cosiness, and a cushion, pillow or rolled up blanket can serve as a yoga bolster if you don't have one

  • if you don't have a yoga bolster but you'd like one - check out manduka's collection here and use the code HANNAHYOGA at checkout for a 10% discount

  • Try this simple sequence - you can set a timer in each pose, for anywhere from 2-20 minutes depending on how long you have to practice :


1.Cat-cow

Begin by warming up the spine by moving through cat-cow a couple of times, linking your movement to your breath



2. Puppy dog pose

Allow your shoulder blades to creep towards each other to open up your chest, and allow your forehead to rest onto your mat or onto a block. A blanket under your knees can add extra comfort.


3. Supported child's pose

Support the torso and let the head rest over to one side, breathe deeply for 2-10 minutes and then turn the head the other way


4. Supported supine twist

Place your support on the outside of your right leg, and cross your left leg over the body to twist a little deeper. Open up the chest by sinking both shoulder blades down onto the mat, then twist the other way


5. Supported reclined butterfly

Place your support along the spine and open up the legs into butterfly pose, supporting the thighs with blocks or cushions, and breathe deeply into chest and abdomen


6. Supported savasana

Place your support under the knees to release the lower back and relax deeply into savasana - cover up with your blanket for extra coziness!


If you'd like to dive deeper into your deep rest practice, you can take a supported savasana and listen to a yoga nidra (guided yogic sleep meditation) practice while you're there. I have a couple on my Insight Timer profile here :


Join me online for our weekend wind down sessions on Sunday evenings - we often share some deeply restful restorative practices to offer replenish before the week ahead :


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