Monday, June 22, 2009

Restorative Class with Limited Props

How can I teach a Restorative Class if I don't have many props?

Sara's Note: I received this question on the Yoga Journal blog and thought I'd re-post my answer here.
I have done a Restorative class with almost no props. In addition to Yoga North, I teach at the YMCA and we only have mats, blocks and belts. The room is carpeted and I do have access to chairs which is very helpful.
To run the class I set up 2 rows of 5 mats (= 5 stations to accommodate 10 people) but you could easily do more rows.
1st station was Legs up the Wall pose (don't need props there).
For the 2nd station I used a rolled up mat for a heart center opener (in lieu of a foam strip).
3rd station was something forward like wide angle or bound angle or child's pose - I can't remember but for the 1st two choices if you have a chair for folks to rest their arms or foreheads on it can be restorative (see link here). If you don't have a chair you can use a block or a couple of blocks. In one teacher training I was doing, a student came up with the idea to use 2 blocks end to end to support her forehead in seated Wide Angle Fold. Child's with a block under the forehead can be nice - just can't stay as long as if you had all the pillows to support the body's weight.
4th station was reclining bound angle. I had my students lay all the way to the floor since we didn't have any bolsters or pillows, but offered them 2 blocks - one for under each bent leg - and a belt to keep the legs snug to the body.
5th station - I think I did supported little bridge (to see the picture, scroll down to the bottom of the page if you follow this link). All you need is a block - a belt is nice but optional. Or maybe I did a twist like the one I described in Sequencing a Restorative Class. That would have been a better choice since I like to include a twist in the class plan.
After everyone has done all the station I have everybody come into Savasana.
Question Part 2:
While they are in poses, do you just play music, or do you also verbally guide them through a relaxation? Just curious how that would go.
As far as music - yes I play music and I talk a little bit. I do not do any of the poses - except at the beginning when I demonstrate how to get into and out of the poses and what to do with the props.
Each time we enter into a pose I remind folks to reconnect with their breath, settle into their body, release tension, soften their brow, and give their mind the job of watching the breath.
When it is time to come out of the pose I say, "On the next inhale bring awareness back to the body, allow gentle movement in the fingers and toes, and start to think about how to gently exit the pose." or something like that. Once everyone is back to seated I direct them on to the next station.
I'm so glad you are interested in Restorative. I have found that most people totally love it once they have done a class. It is such a treat and also necessary for us all to reduce stress.
If you don't feel like you can do a whole class of Restorative you can always incorporate a couple of these postures at the end of class.
Hope this helps. Namaste ~ Sara