Restorative Yoga: Stillness, Support, and Breath By: Sandy Beverly

Restorative yoga combines stillness, supportive props, and breath awareness to help practitioners find deep relaxation. This gentle style of yoga is appropriate for almost anyone, including beginners, older adults, and those with physical limitations or ailments.

What is Restorative Yoga?

Many other styles of yoga use movement—often vigorous—and cue many poses during a single class. In contrast, a restorative yoga class cues just a few poses, and each pose may be held for several minutes. In most poses, you are lying down; blankets, bolsters, and blocks support the body, filling the empty space between the body and the floor so that the poses are effortless. With no pull of gravity, tissues can relax completely. In a restorative yoga class, our only “job” is to pay attention to the breath and the sensations we experience.

What are the Benefits?

What happens when we experience this state of deep but aware relaxation that Dr. Amy Sedgwick calls “full body quiet”? Our sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) down-regulates, and our parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) becomes dominant, sending “we are safe” messages to all the systems of the body. The benefits? Improved cognitive, physical, and emotional health. Think less reactivity, less pain, better sleep, better memory retrieval, better mood, better immune function, and much more! Scientists are studying the benefits of restorative yoga for people with particular health issues, like cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and lower back pain.

What to Expect in a Restorative Class?