What is restorative yoga? Restorative yoga is a practice that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its ability to promote relaxation and healing in both the body and mind. Unlike other types of yoga, restorative yoga focuses on passive stretching and deep breathing, rather than active movement and strength-building poses.

In this article, we will explore what restorative yoga is, how it works, and the many benefits it can offer practitioners. We will also discuss some common poses and techniques used in restorative yoga, as well as tips for starting your own practice.

What Is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is a type of yoga that emphasizes relaxation and rejuvenation of the body and mind. It is often described as a “gentle” or “slow” practice, as it involves holding poses for an extended period of time (usually 5-20 minutes) and using props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks to support the body in these poses.

The practice of restorative yoga was developed in the United States in the 1960s by B.K.S. Iyengar, a renowned yoga teacher, and author. Iyengar saw the value of using props to support the body in poses, allowing practitioners to stay in the pose for longer periods of time and experience a deeper sense of relaxation and release.

Today, restorative yoga is practiced by people of all ages and abilities and is often used as a complement to more active forms of yoga or exercise. It is also a popular practice for those recovering from injury or illness, as well as for those dealing with stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns.

How Does Restorative Yoga Work?


Restorative yoga works by activating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “rest and digest” functions such as slowing down the heart rate, relaxing muscles, and reducing stress hormones. When we are in a state of chronic stress, our sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response) can become overactive, leading to a variety of physical and mental health issues.

By practicing restorative yoga, we can help to balance these two systems and promote relaxation and healing in the body and mind. The use of props in restorative yoga helps to support the body in a way that encourages deep relaxation, and the slow, deliberate movements and deep breathing help to quiet the mind and release tension.

Benefits Of Restorative Yoga

There are many benefits to practicing restorative yoga, both for physical and mental health. Here are just a few of the ways in which this practice can benefit you:

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety: Restorative yoga is a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety, as it helps to activate the body’s relaxation response and reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Studies have shown that regular practice of restorative yoga can lead to significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  2. Improves sleep: Because restorative yoga promotes relaxation and reduces stress, it can also be helpful for improving sleep quality. Studies have shown that people who practice restorative yoga regularly experience better sleep, including longer periods of deep sleep and fewer disruptions during the night.
  3. Relieves physical tension and pain: The use of props in restorative yoga helps to support the body in a way that encourages deep relaxation and release of tension. This can be particularly helpful for those dealing with chronic pain or tension in the neck, shoulders, back, or hips.
  4. Improves flexibility and mobility: Although restorative yoga is not a “stretching” practice in the traditional sense, it does involve gentle stretching and movement that can help to improve flexibility and mobility over time.
  5. Boosts immune function: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness and disease. Restorative yoga helps to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn can boost immune function and help to protect against illness.
  6. Promotes mindfulness and self-awareness: Restorative yoga encourages practitioners to tune into their bodies and become more aware of physical sensations and feelings of relaxation and release. This can promote a greater sense of mindfulness and self-awareness, which can be helpful for managing stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

Common Restorative Yoga Poses

There are many different poses used in restorative yoga, each designed to promote relaxation and rejuvenation in the body and mind. Here are a few common poses you may encounter in a restorative yoga practice:

  1. Supported Child’s Pose: This pose involves kneeling on the floor with a bolster or pillow placed between the thighs, and then folding forward over the bolster, allowing the forehead to rest on the mat or a block. This pose can help to release tension in the hips and lower back.
  2. Supported Bridge Pose: In this pose, a bolster or rolled-up blanket is placed under the hips, while the feet are placed flat on the floor and the arms are relaxed at the sides. This pose can help to release tension in the lower back and promote relaxation throughout the body.
  3. Legs Up the Wall Pose: This pose involves lying on the floor with the legs extended up the wall, while the arms rest at the sides. This pose can help to improve circulation and reduce swelling in the legs and feet, while also promoting relaxation.
  4. Supported Savasana: Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is often the final pose in a yoga practice, and involves lying flat on the floor with the arms and legs extended and the eyes closed. In restorative yoga, this pose is often supported with props such as a bolster or blanket to help promote relaxation and release.

Starting Your Own Restorative Yoga Practice

If you’re interested in starting your own restorative yoga practice, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Find a qualified instructor: Although restorative yoga may seem simple, it’s important to work with a qualified instructor who can guide you through the poses and provide feedback on alignment and technique.
  2. Invest in props: Props such as bolsters, blankets, and blocks are essential for restorative yoga practice, as they help to support the body in poses and promote deep relaxation. Consider investing in your own props so that you can practice at home.
  3. Start slow: Restorative yoga is a slow and gentle practice, so don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Start with just a few poses at a time, and gradually build up to longer sessions as you become more comfortable.
  4. Focus on the breath: In restorative yoga, the breath is a key component of the practice. Focus on deep, slow breathing throughout each pose, allowing the breath to guide your movements and promote relaxation.
  5. Listen to your body: Restorative yoga is all about tuning into your body and finding what feels good. If a pose doesn’t feel comfortable or is causing pain or discomfort, back off or modify the pose as needed.


Restorative yoga is a powerful practice that can help to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve both physical and mental health. By incorporating this practice into your routine, you can experience the many benefits of deep relaxation and release, and cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness and self-awareness. With the right guidance and a commitment to self-care, anyone can enjoy the benefits of restorative yoga.

I am a yoga blog writer. It is a space where people can share their experiences, thoughts, and knowledge about yoga, and where readers can learn about the different aspects of the practice, including its physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.