Classic Restorative Yoga Poses for Home Practice

Restorative Child's Pose

Restorative Child's Pose With a Bolster
Restorative Child's Pose With a Bolster. Hero Images/Getty Images

If you're planning on doing restorative yoga at home, you're going to need to invest in some props. You can do a lot with blankets and blocks (separately and together) but nothing beats a yoga bolster. Exhibit A: this restorative child's pose, which is the yoga equivalent of a big hug. It's so comfortable you'll never want to move, which is kind of the whole idea of restorative yoga. A long hold of 10 or more minutes here gives your hips time to release on a very deep level.

How to Set It Up

1. Place a bolster long ways on your mat. if you don't have a bolster, use a least three yoga blankets, neatly folded and stacked into a bolster shape. 

2. Position your legs for a child's pose right at the end of the bolster. Your legs are on the mat, not the bolster. 

3. Forward fold, draping your torso over the bolster. 

4. Let your arms come out in front of you, resting gently on the floor.

5. Turn your head to one side with your cheek resting on the bolster. Periodically, change the direction of your head so that you don't get a stiff neck. 

Restorative Paschimottanasana

Restorative Paschimottanasana
Supported Paschimottanasana. Debra McClinton/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Supporting yourself in a forward fold like paschimottanasana gives you the best of both worlds. The idea is to come as far forward as you can with a flat back and then pile up folded blankets (and blocks if necessary) to fill the gap between your torso and your legs so you can stay at your full extension for longer without getting tired while gravity does its work. You can do this in any seated forward bend. 

How to Set It Up

1. Begin by sitting in staff pose. Have your props handy just to one side of you.

2. Inhale the spine long, exhale to forward bend over your legs.

3. Stop your bend at the point where your back wants to round. 

4. Place your blankets or blocks on your legs until they are high enough that you can rest your torso on them. It's ok to let your spine round at this point.

5. If your are using blocks, you can place your forehead on one so your head is relaxed too. When using blankets, it may work better to turn your head to one side. Remember to change the direction that your head is facing every so often during the 10 or more minutes that you stay in this pose.

Restorative Leg-Up-The-Wall

Restorative Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani
Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani. GibsonPictures/E+/Getty Images

Legs-up-the-wall is pretty restorative any way you slice it. The wall is the major prop as it offers support to keep your legs vertical. During class, you may not get the chance to hold this pose for a long time or break out the full range of extra props. It's pretty easy to set this up at home and it is super rejuvenating for tired legs.

How to Set It Up

1. This is another change to use your bolster or you can use two to three folded blankets.

2. Place the bolster parallel to and right on the wall all along its long side. 

3, Come to sit on the end of the bolster with your side touching the wall. 

4. Let your hands drop back to support you as your swing your legs up the wall.

5. Come down to your elbows and eventually all the way to your back. Let the arms relax by your sides.

6. Your butt stays on the bolster the whole time, giving you the effects of a mild inversion.

7. After 10 or more minutes, bend your knees toward your chest and roll to one side to come out of the pose. 

Restorative Bridge Pose

Supported Bridge Pose with a Block
Supported Bridge Pose with a Block. Ann Pizer

Active backbends are a lot of work. Passive backbends are actually relaxing. Letting the body open slowly over a longer hold time is a novel experience when you first try it. For a supported bridge, you just need one block

How to Set It Up

1. Set yourself up for a bridge pose with your block within reach.

2. Lift your hips and slide the block under your sacrum. Let the weight of your lower body rest on the block.

3. It's best to start with the block at its lowest height. If that feels ok after a few minutes, you can try turning it so it's higher. For long hold times, avoid the highest position of the block.

4. After 10 or more minutes, push your feet into the floor to lift your hips and remove the block.

Restorative Heart Opener

Restorative Heart Opener
Restorative Heart Opener. Debra McClinton/Taxi/Getty Images

This type of supported heart opener is sometimes done with a block, but a bolster or an ergonomic block makes it much more comfortable so you can hold it for longer. The corners of a regular block start to dig into your back pretty quickly, making this pose feel more like torture and less like bliss. 

How to Set It Up

1. Position a bolster lying across your mat.

2, Lower yourself onto the bolster so that it hits you under your shoulder blades (also known as the bra strap line).

3. Your head will be hanging off the side of the bolster. If it doesn't come to the floor, you can set up a blanket or block to support it. 

4. It's actually pretty intense to bring your arms overhead as shown here. If that doesn't work for you, try extending them out to either side or in a cactus shape (bent at the elbow).

5. You can extend the legs or bring them to a supta baddha konasana position. 

6. Relax and let your heart melt open.

Restorative Savasana

Restorative Savasana With Props
Restorative Savasana With Props. Hero Images/Getty Images

Savasana is all about deep relaxation, so why not take it to its logical conclusion with a bunch of props? 

How to Set It Up

1. One of the nicest things you can do for your savasana is a bolster or rolled blanket under your knees. The helps release your back and feels great. 

2. A blanket under your head for a pillow with a little tuck in it to fill the space behind your neck makes this pose even more comfortable.

3. If it's chilly, cover yourself with a blanket.

4. If you have extra blankets, fold them and pile them on top of your thighs. That extra weight is super grounding and feels wonderful. 

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