top of page

What is Restorative Yoga?

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is a style of yoga that invites the mind and body to relax and soften. Within the word ‘restorative,’ we have the word ‘restore.’ Put simply, restore means to return back to a former or original condition.

The following video discusses what restorative yoga is all about, what you can expect from a restorative yoga class, as well as some of the amazing benefits this style of yoga has to offer!

Daily stressors and a busy lifestyle can take a toll on our physical, mental and emotional bodies. This can look and feel like tension, overwhelm, anxiety, stiffness, annoyance, stress, frustration, and so on. Restorative yoga encourages us to return back to a state of ease.

Restorative yoga can help regulate our stress response. Uncertainty, unknowns and stressors can activate our sympathetic nervous system (our “fight or flight” response). This response is important for our survival. With that being said, this response becomes problematic when it becomes persistent. This can lead to a myriad of health concerns, creating imbalances in the mind and body. Restorative yoga has the ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system. Restorative yoga has the ability to rebalance our internal ecosystem, which includes our nervous system.

Individuals may describe restorative yoga as “adult nap time.” This is because there is minimal physical movement that takes place during restorative yoga classes. Participants typically remain in one posture for 5 to 20 minutes. In one class, you may only explore 3 to 8 poses! This is dependent on the length of the class.

It is very likely that you will use props during restorative yoga classes. With that being said, there may be classes or some postures where props are not used. The use of props (e.g. blankets, pillows, straps, blocks, towels and bolsters) offer support to your body, helping you relax fully into the posture. Props are useful for helping us remain in postures for extended periods of time without effort or strain.

This style of yoga focuses on passive stretching and deep breathing. Deep breathing can help soften areas of the body that may feel “tight” or “tense.” Additionally, posture holds and deep breathing can help elicit the relaxation response. The relaxation response can help calm down the nervous system, tend to frayed nerves, slow down breathing, reduce blood pressure, and so on.

Although restorative yoga does not necessarily present physical challenges, you may experience discomfort finding stillness in the mind and/or the body. You may experience a strong desire to fidget or to move on to the next thing. With no distractions, the mind may wander. You may think about your to-do list, recount your day, delve into habitual thought patterns, uncover areas of suffering, and so on. This can feel like A LOT! Be patient with the process and demonstrate compassion towards yourself.

In my opinion, the benefits of adopting a regular restorative yoga practice far outweigh the discomfort you may experience at the beginning of your journey.