As a Restorative Yoga teacher I am often asked "how can Restorative poses be called Yoga. They don't look like yoga, no headstands or pretzels. You're just laying there, doing nothing!"
Funny really, that's the whole point.
That's what Restorative yoga is about, plus a whole lot more!
It may not look like much is happening and the pose doesn't rate well on Instagram, but believe me this is powerful stuff.
There is so much going on within the body and mind while we appear to be sleeping...
the breath is quietening
the nervous system is being soothed
the muscles are releasing tensions
the heart rate is slowing
the circulation is flowing with ease
the mind is calming, finding a stillness
and that's all happening in the first ten minutes. This is why the poses are held for a longer time in a restorative class. It takes about 15 minutes for the bodies relaxation mode to kick in. Once that happens the magic begins, the body can really start to unwind, de-stress and come to know deep rest and peace.
I like to call Restorative Yoga "the Quiet Achiever" of the yoga world.
Why then is it called Yoga and not just Relaxation?
My answer to that is simple - I like to refer to the yoga tradition and the man who pioneered Restorative Yoga, B.K.S Iyengar. Mr Iyengar found that supporting the body with props within the pose enabled the student to fully embrace the principles of yoga - being present and embodied, with safety. This especially applied to those recovering from illness or injury, or with less flexibility or strength. With the aid of props supporting the posture, students could achieve the balance and release desired. This then enabled the relaxing or "restorative" nature of the pose to take effect - the union (Yoga) of body, mind and spirit.
So, next time you encounter Restorative Yoga don't write it off as "doing nothing" or "that's not Yoga".
I encourage you to think again, or maybe even give it a try! I'm certain you will love it.
Author: Alison Wood