What is Restorative Yoga: Restorative Yoga 101
Restorative Yoga is a style of yoga that has been growing in popularity over the past 20 years. Brought to life by Judith Lasater in the 1970's, Restorative Yoga is rooted in the teachings of BKS Iyengar. In fact, Judith Lasater studied with BKS Iyengar.
Iyengar Yoga is very prop-oriented. If you've ever taken an Iyengar class, you've probably experienced a shift in your alignment with all of the props and the precise teachings. Iyengar Yoga utilizes chairs, yoga walls, ropes, blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters and sand bags to support the practitioner in the posture and to soak up all possible benefits from the posture. Restorative Yoga essentially comes to us from Iyengar Yoga.
What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a gentle and therapeutic style of yoga that uses props, such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks, to support the body in a series of gentle and passive poses. The aim of restorative yoga is to reduce stress and promote deep relaxation, which can help to improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
In Restorative Yoga, the focus is on relaxation, rest, and rejuvenation. It is a gentle and therapeutic form of yoga that may involve the use of straps, sandbags and chairs to support the body in a series of gentle and passive poses.
Restorative yoga is especially beneficial for people who are recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, or who have chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. It is also helpful for people who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression, or who have difficulty sleeping. Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities, and it is particularly useful for people who need deep relaxation and restoration.
The poses in restorative yoga are held for an extended period, typically for 5-20 minutes. This allows the body to relax deeply and to release tension in the muscles, joints, and connective tissues. The use of props is an essential aspect of restorative yoga, as they provide support and comfort to the body in the poses. For example, a bolster can be placed under the knees in Savasanaf to relieve tension in the lower back, or a blanket can be placed over the body in a seated pose to provide warmth and comfort.
Restorative yoga can also incorporate breathing techniques, such as Pranayama, to help promote relaxation and reduce stress. By focusing on the breath, students can cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation in the body and mind. This can be particularly helpful for people who experience anxiety or who have difficulty sleeping.
Who is Restorative Yoga For?
Judith Lasater once said that restorative yoga is the "antidote to stress." We spend so much time focused externally - constantly inundated with notifications, to do lists, emails, social media, places to be, things to do.... you get it. Restorative yoga gives us the opportunity to find that deep down relaxation and rest. Our goal in restorative yoga is to allow the body to open, not to seek the deepest sensation. We want to build the floor up to ourselves using props so that we are fully supported.
Once we are fully supported, we are able to dip into our parasympathetic nervous system, which is where our "rest and digest" systems take place. We often refer to restorative yoga as being helpful for those with injuries, and it is. Yet, it's important to point out that anyone can practice restorative yoga. A lot of times people with a power flow yoga practice will take at least one day a week to rest and restore with restorative yoga.
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
The benefits of restorative yoga are plentiful. Some of the benefits of restorative yoga include:
Reduced stress and anxiety: Restorative yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting deep relaxation in the body and mind. The use of props in the poses allows the body to release tension and stress, which can help to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
Improved sleep: Restorative yoga can help to improve sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. By practicing restorative yoga before bed, students can create a calm and peaceful state of mind that can lead to better sleep.
Increased flexibility and mobility: Restorative yoga helps to increase flexibility and mobility by stretching and releasing tension in the muscles and joints. The gentle and passive nature of the poses allows the body to stretch without putting undue stress on the joints or muscles.
Improved circulation: Restorative yoga can help to improve circulation by promoting relaxation and reducing tension in the body. Improved circulation can lead to a greater sense of vitality and energy in the body.
Reduced chronic pain: Restorative yoga can help to reduce chronic pain, such as back pain or joint pain, by releasing tension in the muscles and joints. The use of props in the poses can help to support the body and reduce stress on the affected area.
Boosted immune system: Restorative yoga can help to boost the immune system by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. By reducing stress, the body can focus on repairing and restoring itself, which can lead to improved immune function.
Improved mental health: Restorative yoga can help to improve mental health by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety and stress. By creating a sense of calm and peace in the body and mind, students can improve their overall sense of well-being.
In addition to the physical and mental benefits, restorative yoga can also be a deeply spiritual practice. It can help students to cultivate a sense of inner peace and connection to themselves and to the world around them. By practicing restorative yoga regularly, students can develop a greater sense of well-being and balance in their lives.
Principles of Restorative Yoga
The principles of restorative yoga are based on the belief that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when given the time and space to do so. Restorative yoga is a gentle and passive form of yoga that uses props to support the body in a series of poses that are held for an extended period. The principles of restorative yoga include:
Gentle and passive poses: Restorative yoga poses are gentle and passive, which means that they are held for an extended period without any effort or strain on the body. The poses are designed to be relaxing and restful, allowing the body to release tension and stress.
Use of props: Restorative yoga uses props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks to support the body in the poses. The props are used to provide comfort and support to the body, which can help to deepen the relaxation response.
Focus on breath: Restorative yoga emphasizes the importance of breathing deeply and slowly. By focusing on the breath, students can cultivate a sense of calm and relaxation in the body and mind.
Mindful awareness: Restorative yoga encourages mindful awareness of the body and the present moment. By paying attention to the sensations in the body, students can deepen their awareness and understanding of their own physical and emotional experiences.
Longer holds: Restorative yoga poses are held for an extended period, typically for 5-20 minutes. The longer holds allow the body to relax deeply and to release tension in the muscles, joints, and connective tissues.
Rest and rejuvenation: The aim of restorative yoga is to promote rest and rejuvenation in the body and mind. By creating a sense of deep relaxation and calm, restorative yoga can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote overall well-being.
The fundamentals of restorative yoga are rooted in the belief that the body has an innate ability to heal itself when given the time and space to do so. Restorative yoga is a gentle and passive form of yoga that emphasizes the use of props, the importance of breath, mindful awareness, longer holds, and rest and rejuvenation. These principles can help students to deepen their understanding of their own physical and emotional experiences, to release tension and stress, and to promote overall well-being.
Who Can Teach Restorative Yoga?
It's important to take a restorative yoga teacher training if you are interested in learning how to teach restorative yoga. There are safety considerations that you can learn in restorative yoga teacher training programs, and you will also learn more about the benefits of restorative yoga, the postures of restorative yoga and how do accommodate all body styles in restorative yoga postures.
In our Restorative Yoga Teacher Training Online, you will get continuing education credits and become certified to teach restorative yoga. Many people take our restorative yoga training because they want to deepen their practice and learn more about the style of restorative yoga. The training is open to everyone, not just yoga teachers.
Learn how to use restorative yoga to help recover from injury