restorative yoga posesBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

Restorative Yoga poses help to relieve many levels of deeply held grief. When we lose someone or something that is very precious to us, the sense of loss and desolation may be overwhelming. This permeating sense of loss is often experienced as exhaustion, anxiety, anger, irritation, muscle tension, depression and insomnia. Supported Restorative Yoga poses literally hold the practitioner as the body relaxes. The use of blankets, bolsters and eye bags help a Yoga practitioner to feel nurtured as he or she moves through the different stages of grief. Supported Balasana or Child’s Pose and Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose are Restorative Yoga postures par excellence for allowing the body to relax and release deep-seated tension.

Supported Child’s Pose 

You will need a Yoga mat, two blankets and a bolster to practice Supported Child’s Pose. If you don’t have a bolster, you can roll up a blanket in cylindrical form of approximately the same size and shape as a bolster. Place the bolster length-wise in the middle of your mat. Place a folded blanket alongside the bolster to support each knee. Slowly lay your torso on top of the bolster. Adjust the bolster so that it supports your entire torso, including your head. Adjust the height and width of your blankets so that they support your knees comfortably. Turn your head to one side and rest in Child’s Pose for five to ten minutes. When you are ready, slowly come out of the pose and rest for a few minutes in an easy cross-legged position on your Yoga mat as you take a few complete breaths. This posture will gently ease the tension out of your groin and abdominal areas and leave you feeling rested and supported.

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose helps to stretch and release tension from the inner legs, hips and the heart area. This posture fosters a sense of support and safety while your body is opening and releasing the grief you are feeling. To practice this pose in a supported manner you will need two blankets. Fold the blankets so that they are each in a neat square of approximately a foot on each side. Lie on your mat with the soles of your feet touching each other. You legs will form a triangular shape. You may want to place a small rolled towel under your heart area to increase the opening of your heart. Place the blankets under your knees as you lie back on your Yoga mat and rest in Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose for five to ten minutes. Slowly come out of the pose and sit quietly for a few moments in a comfortable position. Be aware of how you feel and if any of the energy of grief has shifted or lightened from your Yoga practice.


Restorative yoga poses will not make our problems go away, but their physical and emotional benefits will help us cope in the worst of times.

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Smith, J Andy, MA; Greer, Tammy, PhD; Sheets, Timothy, PhD; Watson, Sheree, PhD. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine17.3 (May/Jun 2011): 22-9.

B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, By B.K.S. Iyengar

Kait Philbin (2009) Transpersonal Integrative Yoga Therapy: A Protocol for Grief and Bereavement. International Journal of Yoga Therapy: 2009, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 129-141.

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