stop, prop and breathe – easy restorative yoga tips for a chilled summer

The country always seems to take a collective deep breath, drop of the shoulders and palpable relax as soon as the sun starts shining and the summer holidays kick in. There seems to be an air of moving slower and calming down a little. If this hasn’t happened to you yet or your sense of calm is being trampled on by work, the start of six weeks of childcare or any other stresses why not try giving restorative yoga a go?

So what is restorative yoga? 

If you’ve never tried it before restorative is a slow yoga practice, usually with very little, if any flow which uses props to help to hold poses for a longer amount of time. The aim is to let the body relax more into the stretch or posture in order for the body to relax more fully. Restorative postures can either be more active using  the props to actively open the body and give more support during a stretch or more passive in a way to support the body in relaxation. The following postures which I have broken down slot into this more passive style.

These are postures I often teach at the end of a faster more flow class and are a lovely way to prepare the body for relaxation or to use as an alternative to our traditional savasana.

For the full restorative experience there really is no substitute for heading to a class though. Check the schedule of your local studios and see what you can find or join me for a taster of restorative in my Slow Flow class on a Friday in Bicester.


Restorative yoga does require props by its very nature but they don’t necessarily have to be actual yoga props if you don’t have these available. If you want to improvise on the props try these swaps:

– Bolsters – rolled blankets, towels or yoga mats all work well as a bolster. Try using a rolled yoga mat at the core with a blanket rolled around the outside for softness

– Blankets – this doesn’t need to be a specific yoga blanket, any large blanket or towel that can be folded to create a bit of height will do

– Eye pillows – lovely to create some weight onto the eyes and facilitate relaxation but any kind of eye mask or folded scarf can do the job too

– Blocks – a pile of books can also make an amazing prop to heighten a bolster. Again maybe try wrapping in a towel or blanket if a little more softness is required.

If you’re looking for a summer treat for yourself then why not check out our range of props and homewares in the shop

The poses

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana – Supported Reclined Cobblers Pose

This version of reclined cobblers pose brings more of an opening into the chest due to having the support of the bolder along the spine. The knees are dropping to the side in the same way as cobblers pose while seated so let them drop to your natural level. Additional props such as blocks or bolsters can be used under the knees.

How to enter Supported Reclined Cobblers Pose

– Position the bolster directly behind your lower back while seated with the legs out long in front

– Slowly lower the back down onto the bolster, moving the end away from the lower back if this creates too much of a lower back arch

– Move the soles of the feet towards each other, bringing them as close to the bottom as is possible. Let the knees drop out to the side

– Hands can either rest on the belly or open out to the side as pictured

Once the posture has been entered begin to find a nice deep breath, inhale length matching exhale length and using the full lung capacity so both the chest and belly rise. This will help to settle the body into the relax and repose state and can be used as a focus for the brain so thoughts can be quietened a little more. This pose can be held for as long as you like but try holding it for at least 5 minutes for the body to truly settle and relax. 10 -15 minutes is a perfect length of hold.

Cautions and additional props

– If the height of the bolster causes any discomfort in the lower back then either move it further away from the bottom or replace the bolster with a lower rolled blanket

– If the head feels too low and the throat too open then place a cushion/blanket/block under the head to create some extra height so that the chin can draw back towards the neck

– With knee injuries or problems be sure to prop under the thighs as well so as little pressure as possible is coming through the knee joint

– Do not practice if you have spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis or if discomfort continues to prevail in the back, knees or hips even after changing the heights or positioning of props.

– As with all new exercise please be cautious when trying something new and gain advice from a teacher or medical professional in person if there are any queries or worries.

Supported Balasana – Supported Childs Pose

Childs pose is often our favourite part of a yoga practice but did you know it can be made even yummier by adding props? This is truly one of my absolute favourite propped yoga poses.

How to enter Supported Childs Pose

– Starting seated on the heels take the knees as wide as the mat

– Place the bolster between the knees

– Lay the chest flat down onto the bolster and turn the head to one side

– Hold posture for two minutes at least and then turn the head in the opposite direction and hold for a further two

– To come out slowly draw the body away from the bolster using the hands as a support and come back to sat on the heels

The breath also becomes our focus in this supported childs pose. As the body is now chest down the breath will be observed through the back body so really focus on drawing the breath up between the shoulder blades and into the back ribs.

Cautions and additional props

– If  the bolster alone feels too low to drape the body across then the end of the bolster can be propped up with blocks or books or with a blanket or cushion on the end to rest the head onto

– If there is too much pressure in the knee joint or tops of the feet a folded blanket can be placed in the fold of the knees to change the angle or under the ankles so that the tops of the feet aren’t pressing down into the floor

– Try adding an eye pillow onto the lower back as a little bit of extra weighting

– The bottom does not need to reach down to the heels but there should be a lengthening through the back to reach the hips and bottom backwards. If this is not happening or is uncomfortable with the bottom just in space then a rolled blanket can be added between the heels and bottom as additional support

– Be careful practicing this pose with any chronic back condition as it may not be suitable. This will also be a pose not necessarily suitable for those over 3 months pregnant.

– As with all new exercise please be cautious when trying something new and gain advice from a teacher or medical professional in person if there are any queries or worries.

Supported Savasana – Supported Corpse Pose

Savasana, the point we all wait for in a yoga class. That utter bliss of laying the body down onto the floor and it can be made even better by adding some props. Add this to the end of your home or youtube practice or just as a way to prep for bed after a busy day. Who’s to say bedtime routines are only for those under 5 years old?

How to enter Supported Corpse Pose

– Laid on the back place a bolster directly under the knees and take the feet as wide as the mat. Let the legs sink into the bolster

– Let the back find its natural curve and settle onto the mat

– Hands can either rest onto the abdomen or to either side of the body. At the same time work to draw the shoulder blades a little flatter to the floor to open through the chest

– Place an eye pillow over the eyes for full relaxation

Work to let the body feel as heavy as possible in this pose, again awareness is to the breath and trying your hardest to acknowledge thoughts but not let them stay in the forefront of the mind. This is your time to relax so try and stay in the pose for 10-15 minutes at least, using it as a mindfulness or meditation pose. Let the mind take a full rotation of the body, feeling a softening and sinking all the way from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet.

Cautions and additional props

– Often the head can naturally tip too far backwards when just laying onto the floor so placing a blanket under the head with a slight roll under the neck can encourage the chin to tuck a little bit more back towards the throat

– If having the knees as the only elevated part of the body puts too much pressure into that area of the legs then we can also elevate the feet onto a block

– This can be a very open pose that some people will find themselves quite vulnerable in. In order to combat this a blanket can be used across the body as a comforting weight or maybe an additional bolster laid across the abdomen, protecting the most sensitive area of our body. If this is still too much of an open posture try supported childs pose instead.

– If you are more than three months pregnant then practice a posture laid on your side with a blanket between the legs and the head resting on a bolster or cushions

– As with all new exercise please be cautious when trying something new and gain advice from a teacher or medical professional in person if there are any queries or worries.


These are great poses to start a restorative practice with but remember you can always have a play with adding head, neck, back or leg supports to any of your other favourite postures. The main thing is this summer to find the time to settle your body and your mind. These postures can be practiced together or by themselves as a literal 10 minute self care pit stop. Find the time to stop, prop and breathe for those 10 minutes and feel any tension begin to slip away

I’d love to hear your thoughts or any other propped poses you love so please drop me a comment below  xxx


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