Restorative Yoga is Bramacharya at work: preservation of life force. Bramacharya is one of the yogic values expressed in the eight limbed path.
The difference between restorative & any other style of yoga is both intensity of effort and duration in poses. Rather than working with muscular opposition, hugging in, radiating out, spirals, loops, etc you create a space for your body to melt into the pose. The time spent in both preparation and melting can more greatly emphasize the already meditative possibilities in asana practice. It’s useful to warm the body up to the practice with chandra namaskar – moon salutaions. There’s a jpeg of Chandra Namaskar from a year or so ago below. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7026/3210/1600/Moon%20Salutations.jpg
Even more than usual, its helpful to work near your minimum edge when entering intentionally restorative asana. Rather than finding the maximum opening of the hip or shoulder joint and supporting it there, find the very first place you feel what might be tension. Let it resolve before moving deeper with breath and intent. Do this until you find a spot with a little more edge than that first, and support the body at that edge, allowing the opening to happen gradually and enjoying the support you’ve created for yourself.
As always, your breath is crucial – smoothness is key here. Notice all parts of your torso, as their expansion in every direction (not just forward) is part of drawing the breath fully into your lungs as well as emptying. Notice the pauses between breathing in & breathing out, rest in the fullness and release respectively.
Some poses I’m looking forward to after a bit of reflective reading, sutra chanting and warming movement are side lying over bolsters, twists over bolsters, wide legged forward bend, supported balasana (child’s pose), janu sirsasana, supported reclining virasana, shoulderstand, supta baddha konasana (reclining cobblers pose w/ feet together, torso draped back over nice, plump bolster) and vitparita karani – legs up the wall. Ahhhhhhh…
Do you ever indulge in the gift of restorative asana? My ideal is to have at least one practice a week like this. What are your experiences with staying in supported poses for extended periods of time?