What Is Restorative Yoga?

If you’re looking to learn about one of the most relaxing styles of yoga, you’ve come to the right place!

Restorative yoga is slow, still, and involves holding some of the more restorative asanas (with the added bonus of comfortable props!) for an extended period of time. It’s just what your nervous system ordered…

In this article, we will learn about the benefits of restorative yoga, what it is, when to practice, and how to practice. We’ll also be sharing a few of our favorite poses and online classes so that you can get started today!

Restorative Yoga Definition

Restorative yoga is the practice of holding asanas for an extended time (anywhere from 5-20 minutes, or more!) in order to draw the mind and body into deep relaxation.

Poses in restorative yoga involve little to no stretching and simply invite you to rest.

Props such as blankets, bolster, yoga blocks, and cushions are used to support your body and encourage you to relax.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

Benefits of restorative yoga may include:

Deep relaxation of the body and mind

Restorative yoga requires nothing of you other than the ability to rest – although sometimes that’s the most challenging part! In a world where we’ve all gotten a little too comfortable with being busy and overwhelmed, restorative yoga helps to create the deep relaxation in the body and mind that we so need.

Greater awareness of your thoughts and learning how to detach from them

The first time you practice restorative yoga, you might be surprised at how many thoughts pop into your head when you’ve got nothing else to do or think about. Noticing your thoughts and allowing them to pass freely without judgment or attachment is something that you’ll get better at each time you practice restorative yoga.

Stress relief

You could describe restorative yoga as the antidote to stress, and we would have to agree! The practice offers an opportunity to step inwards and away from external sources of stress.

Greater balance in the nervous system

Restorative yoga is one of the best practices for bringing greater balance to the nervous system. Restorative yoga encourages you away from a “fight or flight” response and back to a state of “rest and digest”. In scientific terms, it down-regulates the sympathetic nervous system and up-regulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Improved immunity

Yoga, in general, stimulates digestion, balances thyroid function, improves lung function, and enhances respiratory health – all things which lead to improved immunity.

More compassion and kindness towards yourself and others

Yoga helps you to release tension in the body and mind that can otherwise lead to getting frustrated and impatient towards yourself and other people. We challenge you to practice restorative yoga every day for a week and notice the differences in your interactions and conversations both with yourself and others!

When to Practice Restorative Yoga

One of the best things about restorative yoga is that it can be practiced by all bodies, abilities, ages, and experiences – every day!

As a practice, restorative yoga can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. It’s also one of the best yoga practices if you’re pregnant – but always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new movement practice or exercise regime.

Restorative Yoga Poses

Restorative yoga poses include:

Supported Bridge Pose

Lay on your mat with a block next to you, and your knees bent to bring your feet about one palm’s distance away from your glutes. Ensure that the full length of your spine is making contact with the floor. Take an inhale. On an exhale, push into your feet to lift your hips towards the sky. Place your block on its lowest or medium height so that it supports you at the very base of your spine. Allow the block to hold the weight of your torso and let your arms relax on the floor by your sides.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Place a bolster pillow at one end of your mat so that it sits lengthways down the center of your mat. Sit as close to the other end of your bolster as possible and “mind the gap” – there shouldn’t be any space between your lower back and bolster. Come down onto your elbows before lowering your entire torso and head onto your bolster. Once you’re comfortable, bring the soles of the feet together and let the knees fall out to the sides. To reduce the stretch in your hips, add a block or cushion under each knee.

Supine Twist

Lay on your back on your mat and bring your knees to your chest. Take an inhale. As you exhale, bring both of your knees over to your right-hand side. Allow your right hand to rest on your knees and your left arm to stretch out, on the floor, to the left. Gaze to the left. To reduce the stretch, slide your left knee towards the left. To increase the stretch, try to stack the knees one on top of the other.

Supported Child’s Pose

Place a bolster or several cushions down the center of your mat. Come to a kneeling position with your knees apart and feet together, sitting with one end of your bolster close to your pelvis. Slowly bring your entire upper body to rest on the bolster pillow or cushions. You can bring your arms to rest overhead on the bolster or lay your forearms on the floor on either side of your bolster.

How to Practice Restorative Yoga

Luckily, to practice restorative yoga, all you need is a body and some comfortable clothes! However, it can be helpful to have a yoga mat and a few props to hand.

Props such as bolster pillows, yoga blocks, and blankets can be used in restorative yoga poses to support your body and make asanas more comfortable. You can also use props to decrease or increase the stretching sensation to tailor the practice to your body and needs.

Why not get started with a couple of the poses outlined above or follow a YouTube video? We’ve shared a few of our favorites in the next section.

Start Restorative Yoga at Home

If you can’t make it to a yoga studio or simply want to try restorative yoga at home, check out these follow-along videos.

Related: Simple Restorative Yoga Sequence (No Props Needed)

Restorative Yoga – No Props

Restorative Yoga for Hips and Back Opening

Yoga for Sleep and Relaxation | Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga FAQs

Is Restorative Yoga Good for Beginners?

Restorative yoga is one of the best styles of yoga for beginners! It’s less of a workout and more like a deep rest, meaning the poses are accessible no matter your level. If you’re turning to yoga to relieve stress and calm your nervous system, restorative yoga may be your best choice.

Is Restorative Yoga the Same as Yin Yoga?

Although the terms “restorative yoga” and “yin yoga” are frequently used interchangeably, they’re completely different styles of yoga with very specific benefits. The only similarity is that yin yoga and restorative yoga are both floor-based practices, meaning that you’re unlikely to practice any standing poses during your class. While restorative yoga is practiced to achieve deep rest and relaxation with little to no stretching, yin yoga is the practice of holding deep stretches to improve mobility and flexibility in deep tissue muscles.

How Often Should I Do Restorative Yoga?

Because restorative yoga is such a gentle practice, you can practice as often as you’d like! While you might like to attend full classes, you can also choose 1-2 poses to practice throughout the day when your mind and body need to relax a little.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying restorative yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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