Restorative Yoga: What is it? Where do I find it near me?
Restorative Yoga is a form of yoga created and popularized by Judith Laseter, an American pioneer of the Indian tradition of yoga. She also is an author and the creator of Yoga Journal, long recognized as an excellent yoga information resource. Donna Davidge, owner and instructor at Sewall House Yoga Retreat, was trained by Laseter in one of her Relax and Renew Trainings. Donna/Amrita has also taught Restorative in New York City at the PURE yoga studio., as well as in the yoga teacher trainings at Sewall House Yoga Retreat. In the current climate, yoga studios often offer Restorative Yoga classes online. That said, if you plan to do restorative yoga at home you will need some props, or at least some makeshift props at the very least. (rolled up blankets, strong pillows, perhaps some towels). Yoga International is a good online resource for Restorative Yoga and many other yoga classes.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At Sewall House Yoga Retreat, we offer weekly Restorative Yoga online classes, the number of times based on guests’ needs. It is a great choice for an evening class after hikes in Baxter State Park or the popular closer Mount Chase hike. What sets Restorative Yoga apart from other forms of yoga is the use of props and the requirement that these props support the student in such a way that there is little to no pulling or stretching. While this may seem counter to what yoga means to many, the benefits of Restorative Yoga classes cannot be surpassed in teaching people how to relax and feel supported. The purpose of the props, which usually includes bolsters, blankets blocks and straps, (eye pillows if available) is to hold the student so no effort need be made by the body. We make enough effort in our daily lives, when the sympathetic nervous system (which active forms of yoga strengthen) serves us with constant fight, flight or freeze reactions. The parasympathetic system helps us learn to respond, not react.
THE BENEFITS OF RESTORATIVE YOGA
One of the major benefits of Restorative Yoga is the strengthening of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the nervous system that helps us be calm. With the amount of stress and busyness in modern-day life, Restorative Yoga is an important complement to the more active forms of yoga that have helped increase the practice of yoga In the United States and globally.
Another thing that sets restorative yoga apart is the long time one spends in the pose. To reap the full benefits, ten minutes is a good minimum time in a pose, with up to twenty minutes as a maximum. For people who have anxiety, this may at first seem uncomfortable but most students report feeling relaxed and calmer after restorative yoga classes. The most important restorative yoga pose is savasana, the dead persons pose, practiced at the end of this and all yoga practices.
Restorative is in the category of YIN yoga practice. YIN yoga is often confused with restorative, both being quite similar in their slower approach to yoga. The difference is that yin yoga holds are usually 1-3 minutes, with a pull in the connective tissue and fascia being the main requirement, as opposed to restorative support. Yin may or may not use props, though many teachers and students like props in both practices. At Sewall House Yoga retreat, we offer both forms of yoga, yin, and restorative, as well as Svaroopa yoga, another yin form that resets the spine and opens the Kundalini Yoga. Ajeet is the in-house Svaroopa yoga teacher and, like Donna/Amrita has decades of yoga and yoga teaching experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Restorative yoga is a relaxing form of yoga that uses support via props like bolsters, blankets, yoga blocks and straps. The poses are held for 10-20 minutes.
All yoga is based on reverence for nature and how it gives us life.
What are the benefits of Restorative Yoga? Restorative yoga strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, the one that helps us be relaxed instead of reactive. It teaches us how to relax, an important antidote to stress.
The student is supported by the props, which can include the wall, so the body has no strain. Often confused with yin yoga, where one does pull the fascia and connective tissue in shorter 1-5 minute holds, both systems work on balancing the system and slowing everything down. Teachers often help the student make sure the props are used appropriately to support them during the long holds-.
Any adult, young or old, can do restorative yoga. Some of the poses can be done on or with yoga chairs for example. Children likely do not have the patience to stay still that long but perhaps poses could be introduced for shorter times. It’s a start!