Restorative yoga is a gentle style of yoga meant to help the body rest and heal. I love practicing restorative yoga when I’m having a low energy day. Days when I’m feeling stressed, or when the brain fog is out in full force. On those days, I crash into restorative yoga classes melting into the floor and covering myself in blankets like a warm cocoon.
Like yin yoga, it took me a couple years to discover this style of yoga. When I first started practicing yoga, my classes were all gentle, but they were meant to increase strength and flexibility - not rest. When I started going to yoga studios, most of the classes were more active flow classes. I liked this style because I felt like I was finally getting back in shape - stronger and fitter- but I couldn’t (and still cannot) do a more active style every day.
Restorative yoga is an ideal style of yoga for those who are ill or in the early stages of recovery. It’s meant to restore balance and equilibrium to the body and mind. It’s also a good idea to balance a more active practice with a slower yin or restorative session.
What is a restorative yoga class like?
The poses in a restorative yoga class are done mostly lying down, and a few are seated. It may sound similar to yin yoga, but the styles are actually quite different. Restorative yoga uses props like pillows, blankets, blocks, and straps to help you support the body and use as little physical effort as possible. These props help make the poses better for different levels of flexibility and different body types and can help you fully relax into the pose better than other styles of yoga.
The poses in these classes are held for 3-10 minutes. That means in an hour-long class you might only do 4-5 poses. Since you’re staying in a relaxation pose for so long, meditation is a big part of restorative yoga. It can help strengthen the mind while also relieving tension from places you’re carrying it in your body.
Restorative yoga is an ideal style for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, or those recovering from surgery. The poses are adapted for different body types, and the main goal is to help you relax and heal.
While more active styles are also important for recovery - we need to rebuild strength and stamina - adding in a restorative practice to your week (or to your day) will help aid the healing process.
Ready to give it a try? Follow this link for a free 15-minute restorative yoga practice.
In chronically kind yoga, my online yoga course for chronic illness, week 1 is dedicated to restorative yoga! Learn more here if you're interested in taking the course in the new year!