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I sometimes hear the question indirectly through another student. I sometimes see the furrowed brow and perplexed look when I suggest a two-hour restorative yoga class to someone I’m meeting at a party. I can even imagine you making this confused expression or eyes glazing over when you read my posts about upcoming classes on social media.

So, if you’ve ever thought, “What the hell do you DO for two hours of restorative yoga?”

This blog is for you.

I get it. When I started doing regular yoga classes 18 years ago, I could barely make my body-mind still during the 5-minute final resting pose (svasana) at the end of a yoga movement (asana) class. I felt plagued by my thoughts flying though my mind like rocket ships. Sure, I could let go of a thought, but three more soon followed. I didn’t usually feel rested, more like a fidgety failure.

In those early days, I was more than willing to take day-long physical workshops or longer classes, but not the seated or resting practices. I would endure those quieter practices only if you made me do them during a longer class, but it took years to really embrace this aspect of yoga.

Here’s what I learned after I finally started embracing the quieter, restorative and meditative practices: The longer class actually helped me settle better than a shorter one. Our nervous systems, overtaxed by way too much stimuli (especially from technology), struggle to settle down because we are in a constant state of vigilance. (To learn more about how modern life taxes our nervous systems, read the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia and Emily Nagoski or hear them interviewed on Brėnė Brown’s podcast, “Unlocking Us.”)

The way I design restorative classes takes our stress-filled lives into account and uses the time to help you really settle into deep relaxation. And the nice thing about doing these classes on Zoom is that you can always do you. Do what you need to feel comfortable, even if that means getting up to walk around when you think everyone else is resting. (Psst … they might actually be doing the same thing. Their camera is just off.)

So here are the elements I usually include in my restorative yoga classes:

Journaling.

Nicole's hands with brightly polished purple fingernails writing onto the cream colored pages of a journal.
Write or draw about the class theme through prompts I share. Or you can always just stare at the wall or walk around for a few minutes.

Gentle Movement.

Nicole sitting down on her yoga mat, legs straight out in front of her. Both arms are raised above the head in a stretch.
I lead a series of yoga poses with LOTS of adaptations and options. (When I say I make yoga accessible, I really mean it.) Movement helps to settle our bodies and prepare our nervous systems for rest. Sometimes the movement includes a yoga dance party. No one said yoga couldn’t be fun!

Restorative Poses.

Nicole laying on a yoga mat, head resting on a blanket, arms out to the side, her legs propped comfortably onto a folding chair. This restorative pose is called Queen's Pose.
In the longer classes, this is a series of 3-4 restorative poses. These are fully supported, relaxing poses that use blankets, pillows, bolsters or whatever else you have handy to make your body feel completely at ease. And, again, you can always get up and move around if this gets to be too much.

Guided Meditation.

Nicole sitting in a cross legged meditation position leading a final meditation in one of her restorative yoga classes.
In one final resting position (not seated upright unless you really want to), I will guide you through a meditation while your body is relaxed and your mind and spirit can explore the practice. You may fall asleep, and that’s OK. Your mind is still taking it all in somehow. The body-mind is pretty amazing that way.

What other questions do you have? Drop me a question in the comments or email me. You may have noticed that I LOVE to talk about yoga.

Try restorative yoga at my Fall Equinox Restorative Yoga Celebration on Sept. 21, 7-9 p.m. EDT

Don’t let two hours of yoga intimidate you! We do a mix of gentle movement, journaling, restorative yoga (the laying around kind) and guided meditation, with a yoga dance party thrown in for good measure!

Do you want to be part of a community committed to doing less? Join my Defy the Trend Community Sampler for free!

It includes: 

  • access to one of my upcoming yoga classes (attend live any Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EDT or get the recording)
  • access to online community conversations
  • a sampler package of downloadable guided meditations
  • and (soon to launch) my weekly newsletter that will be full of practice tips, resources, and links to special community events.