Restorative yoga is suitable for practitioners of all levels. By definition, restorative yoga is a restful practice that holds yoga poses (asanas) for a longer duration using props like yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters. It is a practice of deep relaxation that emphasizes the meditative aspect of yoga – the union of body and mind. Through the use of props for support, many of the postures are held almost effortlessly.
When the body enters a state of relaxation the mind can also consciously relax as tension is released from both body and mind. The only work that’s required on your part during a restorative yoga practice is to pay attention to your breath and become aware of any sensations or thoughts that may arise.
The general trend in Western yoga is to make it a practice geared toward the athletic, aerobic, and acrobatic styles of the practice. During typical vinyasa classes, for instance, you move quickly from one pose to another as you build heat and increase your strength and flexibility over time. While these energetic styles of yoga focus on muscular engagement, restorative yoga relaxes the muscles by using props to support the body. In some restorative postures, you will also receive a gentle stretch. Restorative yoga poses are held anywhere from 5–20 minutes.
Restorative classes are typically mellow and low-energy, making them a great complement to more active practices (as well as our busy lives) and an excellent antidote to stress. Stillness is a powerful practice.