Restorative Yoga refers to a yoga practice that is just that – restorative or a practice that helps renew the body's health, strength, or consciousness.
According to Eckhart Yoga, "The idea of restorative yoga is to promote deep relaxation while holding the poses for longer periods of time, with the help of props."
Origin + Founder:
Restorative Yoga is derived from a yoga style developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, whose teaching experience showed him how pain or injury could sometimes happen if you strain too hard in a pose. He then developed and adapted asanas using props and modifications, allowing the student to stay in the pose without pain or strain. These poses also seemed to help people recovering from injuries or illnesses.
Judith Lasater, his student, popularized this form of yoga in the 1970s. She's also one of the founders of Yoga Journal and has written eight books, helping spread yoga throughout the United States.
Restorative Yoga is often compared to Yin Yoga; however, Yin Yoga has Taoist origins and is defined by its use of props. Both practices are slower-based and involve long holds.
As previously stated, the purpose of the practice is to fully relax with the aid of props, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes deep relaxation and lessons stress in the body.
It is intended to combat the physical and mental effects of everyday stress and helps ailments like headaches, backaches, anxiety, and insomnia through restful postures, pranayama and sometimes guided meditation.
Classes are typically slow-paced with dimmed lights and the use of blocks, bolsters, eye masks, blankets, and more. This allows the body to let go.
Common benefits include increased flexibility, deep relaxation of the body and mind, increased healing, enhanced mood, and more.
Photo: Jake Laub