What is Restorative yoga?

June 16, 2024

I used to attend an Ashtanga yoga school. This was facilitated in the 'Mysore' style of teaching, where instead of following an instructor, students memorise the sequence of postures and flow through them. The teacher then goes around observing and assisting where needed. This teaching style aims to make you self-sufficient in your own practice so that you can continue at home.

One evening, I arrived absolutely shattered from lack of sleep and stress. When the teacher asked me how I was, I explained my dishevelled state, and he responded by saying, "I know exactly what you need." He then proceeded to set up an elaborate contraption that looked like a cloud, made of bolsters and yoga blankets. He invited me to lie down on the carefully constructed cloud and just rest. As I lay down, I felt myself sink into a deep state of rest. It really was exactly what I needed, and what I later came to find out was that this 'posture' was part of a broader practice of yoga called restorative yoga.

Restorative yoga was primarily developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, a prominent yoga teacher and founder of Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar's approach to yoga emphasises alignment, precision, and the use of props to assist practitioners in achieving the correct posture and deeper relaxation.

In contrast to other forms of yoga that work to improve strength, flexibility, and balance, along with mental focus, restorative yoga aims for stress relief, deep relaxation, and recovery. Who doesn't need a little more of that! So what are the benefits of restorative yoga?

Stress Reduction

One of the most profound benefits of restorative yoga is its ability to reduce stress. By holding poses for extended periods with the support of props, the body is encouraged to relax completely. This deep relaxation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps lower cortisol levels and calms the mind. As you sink into each pose, stress and tension melt away, leaving you feeling refreshed and more balanced. This stress relief can have a ripple effect, improving your overall quality of life and well-being.

Improved Sleep

Restorative yoga can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep. The practice encourages a state of deep relaxation and calm, which can help to reset your sleep patterns. By practising restorative poses before bedtime, you signal to your body that it's time to wind down. This helps to alleviate insomnia and promotes a more restful, uninterrupted sleep. As you incorporate restorative yoga into your routine, you may find yourself falling asleep more easily and waking up feeling more rejuvenated.

Enhanced Flexibility

While restorative yoga is gentle, it still provides a significant boost to your flexibility. The prolonged holds in each pose allow the muscles and connective tissues to gradually release and lengthen. Over time, this gentle stretching can lead to increased flexibility and range of motion. Unlike more vigorous styles of yoga, restorative yoga achieves these benefits without putting strain on your body, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. The use of props ensures that you can safely explore deeper stretches in a supported manner.

Pain Relief

Another key benefit of restorative yoga is its ability to alleviate chronic pain. By focusing on gentle, supported postures, the practice helps to release tension and tightness in the body. This can be particularly beneficial for those suffering from conditions such as lower back pain, arthritis, or fibromyalgia. The deep relaxation and mindful breathing in restorative yoga also promote the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Over time, regular practice can lead to a significant reduction in pain and discomfort.

Emotional Healing

Restorative yoga provides a safe space for emotional healing. The quiet, meditative nature of the practice allows you to connect deeply with your inner self. As you relax into each pose, you may find that suppressed emotions and stress begin to surface. This gentle release can be incredibly therapeutic, helping you to process and let go of emotional baggage. By creating a state of mental clarity and calm, restorative yoga can improve your emotional well-being, leaving you feeling more centred and at peace with yourself.

Overall, restorative yoga is a great alternative to other recovery modalities you might be more familiar with and an excellent way to find a moment to feel more human.

Why not attend one of our yoga classes in Brisbane at or join us online.

If you are interested learning more about yoga check out A Beginners Guide to Yoga

or What is Yin Yoga.

Join today for your FREE 7-day Trial

Work out online for just $1 a week

Enjoy our extensive Online Studio library featuring Matwork Pilates, Barre, HIIT, Yoga, Stretch, Pre & Postnatal Classes for just $1 a week!
Sign up

View our terms and conditions.