Sequencing Considerations: Restorative Yoga Part 2

Key Points

  • As with traditional poses, Restorative poses are categorized as forward bends, backbends, twists, lateral bends and inversions. Typical sequencing considerations for these pose types apply. For more information, see Asana Categories & Families and Sequencing Fundamentals.
  • In The Therapeutic Yoga Kit, the authors recommend that a Restorative sequence begin with a simple, heart-opening pose to release tension from typical daily habits of sitting, driving, etc., and to allow the breath to deepen.
  • Even though all poses in a Restorative sequence can be considered relaxing, it’s advised that the sequence end with one of the deepest relaxation poses such as a Supported Savasana.
  • Often, students are guided to be in Restorative poses for 2 to 3 minutes minimum, and up to 10 to 20 minutes or more.
  • Breath practices, guided visualizations and meditations are ideal accompaniments both for their inherent effectiveness and to support the quiet nature of the practice.

Savasana in Active Part of Class

Not Always the Final Pose

Savasana is not confined to being the final pose. Some traditions, such as Sivananda Yoga, intersperse Savasana between their sequences of high intensity postures. Used in this way, this innocuous pose provides a physiological, yet powerfully understated value – that of developing energy, vigor and rebound. The ability to move from intense activity to a state of complete inaction becomes interval training for our body’s energy. It helps our breath improve, stress hormones regulate, and brain activity restore to balanced states. Over time, this interval regimen can reduce the unconscious state of chronic, profound exhaustion that many of us suffer. – Steven Weiss

Restorative or Gentle?

  • What may be called “classic” Restorative Yoga is to focus on a few Restorative poses, such as Judith Lasater teaches in the highly regarded book, Relax and Renew.
  • Others may call a sequence “restorative” when it is primarily focused on supported postures, whether or not the poses come from the small, core group of “classic” Restorative postures.
  • The line between “Gentle” and “Restorative” can get blurred, but it seems a useful distinction is that the purpose of Restorative Yoga is releasing tension vs stretching or strengthening.
  • Some classes pair Restorative asana with gentle movement. Whether the sequence is called “Gentle,” “Restorative” or other, the approach is typically to begin class with movement or to intersperse gentle movement throughout, with an emphasis on preparing for — and spending a significant amount of time in — Restorative postures.
  • See also: Stretches and Flows / Mini-Vinyasas

Sample Sequences