What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative Yoga is a very gentle form of yoga – but it’s not to be underestimated! As the name suggests, this is a restorative, rejuvenating and powerful healing practice, and each pose is held for 5-10 minutes at a time, enabling you to surrender and stretch much more deeply than in a regular yoga class.
In essence, this practice is all about aligning the physical and mental, by practicing either complete stillness, or very gentle movement, for extended periods of time.
The postures are usually adapted from supine or seated yoga poses, with the aid of all kinds of props, to eliminate unnecessary straining and minimise the potential for injury.
Restorative yoga helps relieve the effects of chronic stress, and moves the spine in all directions, for greater wellbeing. Typical poses include forward bends, backbends, twists and even inverted postures, all of which help to reverse the effects of gravity and return fluids to the upper body.
Who can do Restorative Yoga?
Restorative Yoga is suitable for absolutely anyone! There’s no prior experience necessary, because we use all kinds of props, like bolsters, blankets, cushions, eye pillows, blocks and straps, to help us get into each pose. The idea is to settle and get comfortable at first, and then ‘allow’ the body to begin stretching, rather than forcing your way into it.
Whether you’ve never tried yoga before, or you’ve been doing it for 20 years, this is a fantastic style for beginners right through to advanced students.
Restorative Yoga Benefits
Because Restorative Yoga is based on slow yet powerful stretching, the results can be profound. Many students experience it as a form of bodywork, where emotions and memories stored in our muscles, tissues and cells start to come up, in order to be cleared.
This method of accessing emotions stored deep within the body is particular to this style of yoga, and it’s much less common during the faster transitions of Hatha or Vinyasa-style yoga.
On a physical level, this practice heals aches and pains, strengthens the lymphatic, immune, circulatory, endocrine (or hormonal), digestive and respiratory systems, increases flexibility and joint mobility, reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improves digestion, elimination, and even fertility, reduces muscle tension, insomnia and fatigue, and much more.
Restorative yoga is a great lesson in body, breath, and emotional awareness, and it has incredible potential for soothing our busy minds. On an emotional level, it teaches you how to be in the moment, how to be still, how to let go and surrender, how to be more allowing and accepting, how to calm the mind and tune into the body, and how to nurture body, mind and soul together.
What can I expect from a class?
My classes usually run for 90 minutes, and each class will have a different theme. For instance, one week we might target adrenal fatigue, and in another class we might focus on poses to open the heart chakra.
We’ll usually begin with a 10-minute relaxation introducing you to the theme of the day, followed by 8-12 long, slow poses, and then we finish with 10-15 minutes of Yoga Nidra or iRest Yoga Nidra.
Some of the most popular restorative poses include Child's Pose (hips rest on heels and upper body cradles a pillow or bolster), Legs-Against-the-Wall (bolster under the back, hips and/or legs), Reclining Bound Angle (props under legs, arms and head) and Savasana (feet rest on a blanket, legs on a bolster and head on a pillow).
During each class, I’ll encourage you to take lots of big deep breaths as we go. The class consists mainly of floor work, done either sitting or lying down.
Remember that “Yoga reveals itself to the student through practicing it – not talking or reading about it”… so I encourage you to find out when and where you can attend, and experience Restorative Yoga for yourself!
“Thanks once again Anna for the most wonderful restorative yoga last night! I have done yoga on and off for the last 15 years and this is one of the best classes I have been to! I found your class to be relaxing, opening and also energising. I also had an excellent night sleep! Congratulations on running this excellent class, I will be a regular attendee!”
Helen Elizabeth Seminars