Last updated on December 6th, 2023.
If you’ve never taken a yoga class, you may think that yoga consists of complicated movements and elaborate balancing routines sometimes set to music, where everyone looks graceful. And this belief may be what’s keeping you from practicing yoga. Because, yes, yoga can indeed be complicated movements and elaborate balancing routines set to music. But that’s not all yoga is.
Yoga can also be a calm and serene class set in a darkened yoga studio with students lying on the floor under blankets. What I’m describing is Restorative Yoga. See, there are many different types of yoga. Some that will really make you sweat, like Jivamukti or Ashtanga. However, we’re going to be talking about Restorative Yoga today. It’s a slower, more contemplative type of yoga.
We’re all walking around carrying loads of stress. We’re worried about our jobs, about the economy and about our kids’ schools. We are not sure from one day to the next what will be happening. And, besides the stress of the world, we’re also multitasking and running around trying to do five things at once. We’re just balls of stress by the end of the day!
And stress can do nasty things to your body and your emotions. Carrying around a lot of stress will increase your chances of suffering from anxiety or depression. It will also affect your sleep patterns. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re worried about the uncertainty of the world.
And that’s why Restorative Yoga is so beneficial. It allows you to let go. To let go of the tension in your body and the tension in your mind. It allows you to step away from the world for an hour. And then to take the peace and relaxation that you felt in the class with you as you go forward in the rest of your day.
Restorative yoga does more for the body, mind, and soul than just stretching. For example, it has been known to increase relaxation and promote healing for minor ailments. To enhance the healing energy of restorative yoga even further, people may use healing crystals during their practice. You need to make research before choosing different crystals and their meanings for the yoga practice, as they have different uses and properties. For example, crystals like Quartz, Amethyst, and Carnelian are believed to have specific meanings linked with health and well-being. By tapping into the properties of these crystals while practicing restorative yoga, practitioners can unlock a deeper level of relaxation and possibly even spiritual growth.
As you’ll see below, people practice Restorative Yoga for a number of different reasons. But the end result is always the same: a calmer and more relaxed outlook, physically and emotionally. You could even find yourself feeling happier after you embark on a journey into Restorative Yoga.
What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a yoga sequence that allows practitioners to fully and deeply relax not only their bodies but their minds, too. A class may include only five or six poses. And students will be offered a variety of props such as bolsters, sandbags, blankets and blocks to allow them to achieve the ultimate in rest and relaxation. You will hold Restorative Yoga poses for 5 to 10 minutes and sometimes up to 20 minutes.
If you’ve been practice yoga for a while, you’ll know that many yoga poses help you stretch and lengthen your muscles. You may leave the class feeling like you just had a great workout. But Restorative Yoga is different. It’s not about stretching and finding your edge between release and pain. Restorative Yoga doesn’t focus on stretching and lengthening.
In a Restorative Yoga class, you will be invited to release tension in your muscles and your mind. Sitting in a 10-minute pose will be difficult at first. But, over time, the muscles will soften, and the mind will cease to wander. And, by releasing the tension in your muscles and all of the stress and anxiety in you mind, you’ll come out of the class feeling refreshed and renewed.
So, if you’re interested in practicing a type of yoga that will relax both your body and your mind, will help with your sleep problems, and even alleviate chronic pain, then Restorative Yoga may be just the thing. Please keep reading for all things Restorative Yoga. We’ve expanded upon the purpose of Restorative Yoga and we discuss if the practice is appropriate for beginners. And then, we get into the age-old questions of whether yoga, in this case Restorative Yoga, is considered exercise and can you lose weight practicing it. And finally, how much yoga is too much? Read on to find out.
What is the purpose of Restorative Yoga?
As we said, instead of giving you hard workout, a Restorative Yoga class will allow you to find a serene place for your body and mind to grow your compassion of yourself and others. By sitting in stillness, you become aware of your muscles. You’ll almost feel them releasing tension.
You’ll become aware of your thoughts. And you’ll learn to listen to those thoughts without judgment. And letting go of opinions and judgment will let you release stress in your mind. You’ll find that you’re better able to deal with problems if you are able to accept without reacting. In essence, you’ll become more emotionally resilient, which will help you deal with the complexities of our ever-changing world.
And there is so much more that Restorative Yoga is good for. While hold a pose, your muscles release and your organs are massaged, leading to a healthier digestive system. Plus, by awakening your parasympathetic nervous system, your heart rate will slow, and your gland and intestinal activity will increase, also making them healthier. There are also Restorative Yoga poses to decrease sinus pressure, allowing you to breathe more easily. Plus, Restorative Yoga can help alleviate insomnia, and with better sleep, you’ll heal faster.
Is Restorative Yoga good for beginners?
Yes, Restorative Yoga is good for both beginners and yoga veterans. It’s good for anyone who wants to relax. If you find that your days are hectic and full of noise and stress, then Restorative Yoga will be good for you. And, for a beginner, one of the great things about Restorative Yoga, is that, with a slower yoga, it will be much easier for you to learn how to safely and correctly do a pose.
Going into a yoga class for the first time can be daunting. But, knowing that you’ll be moving slowly, and that the teacher will have plenty of time to help you adjust should alleviate that worry. And, since you’ll have a lot of time to learn the poses, you’ll know them well enough to transfer that knowledge to a faster yoga class, if you are interested in broadening your yoga abilities. Who knows, maybe you’ll even take that next step in seeking your yoga certification!
Restorative Yoga poses
Here are a few of the most common Restorative Yoga poses that you’ll find in a beginner class. You may already know these from other yoga classes. If not, your yoga teacher will fully explain how to achieve each pose.
1. Child’s Pose
A very common resting pose where you kneel with your arms and head in front of you as far to the floor as is comfortable for you.
2. Corpse Pose
It sounds creepy, but really, you’re just lying on your back with your arms and legs straight. You may have a blanket on you, and you may find it comfortable to have a bolster under your knees for extra support.
3. Legs up the Wall Pose
This is a fun pose. Obviously, you’ll have to be near a wall. Lie perpendicular to the wall and lift your legs up so that they are supported by the wall. You may need to do some scooting to get into position.
4. Supported Forward Fold Pose
This can be a challenging pose so use any props that you need. You’ll sit up straight with your legs out straight and then with your arms overhead, you’ll bend at the hips. Your hands will point towards your feet. In Restorative Yoga, however, you have many options. The easiest adjustment to the pose would be to keep your knees bent. And props can further help you in this and other poses.
Does Restorative Yoga count as exercise?
You won’t work up a sweat practicing Restorative Yoga, but it will increase your flexibility. You could practice Restorative Yoga as a companion to more vigorous exercise. Because, even though it is healthy to stay active, it is also healthy and necessary to slow down and shut everything off. To clear our heads and let our minds and bodies heal. And that’s what Restorative Yoga will do for you.
So, why not try a combination of vigorous exercise such as running and then rest and relax in a Restorative Yoga class? You will most likely find that the aches and pains you usually face after a long run disappear. And, as an added bonus, not only will your body feel better, but your mind will, too.
Can you lose weight doing Restorative Yoga?
You probably will not lose weight from Restorative Yoga poses. But what could help you lose weight when practicing Restorative Yoga is that the poses can decrease cortisol production. And cortisol is what increases that spare tire around a person’s waist. Also, by the way, too much cortisol raises your sugar levels and can lead to bone loss, osteoporosis, water retention, and so on. So, no, you’re not going to burn the calories away by doing Restorative Yoga. But, in the long run, you are creating a path for a healthier life. You’ll avoid gaining fat round the middle and, perhaps for importantly, you’ll be helping your bones stay healthy!
How often should I do Restorative Yoga?
Yoga professionals say that it’s OK to do Restorative Yoga as much as you want or need to. And it’s not only OK, it’s also good for you. Restorative Yoga, as we pointed out above, is good for your body and your mind.
But yoga teachers do warn that if you feel any pain, you should back off. Don’t try to force any poses that are overwhelming or uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are always an abundance of props in Restorative Yoga classes. So, if you are feeling a strain when you try to do a seated forward fold, for instance, you could place a pillow on your lap to lean on and even a bolster under your knees to avoid knee strain. Your teacher will show you how to use the various Restorative Yoga props. And, they’ll constantly check in during a class to make sure everyone is comfortable and will suggest certain props to make the pose more comfortable.
The number one message to take with you and really heed when you are practicing any type of yoga is to be gentle with yourself. Whether you’re in a vigorous Ashtanga Yoga class or a serene Restorative Yoga session, it will do no good to try to ignore pain and discomfort. But, if you treat your body with respect and are aware when to pull back or when you can push forward, then really, any yoga class is fine to practice daily.
With the world spinning faster and faster out of control, it’s almost imperative that we practice self-care. Besides eating right and getting enough sleep, it’s clear that a great help for your body and your mind is Restorative Yoga. Because, not only will Restorative Yoga help do away with the tension you carry in your body. But Restorative Yoga will work on the anxiety, stress and chronic pain that may make you lose sleep at night. Think of practicing Restorative Yoga as hitting a reset button on your physical and emotional health. You’ll rebalance yourself and be better able to handle the real world.
So we hope our in-depth look into Restorative Yoga helps you in taking that first step in helping yourself. We’ve given you a deep dive into the purpose of Restorative Yoga to better help you understand the practice. And, we’ve hopefully cleared up any misconceptions about practicing Restorative Yoga as a beginner. If you’d really like take further steps in your practice to sharing the benefits of yoga we recommend checking out our article on Online Yoga Teacher Training.
Further, we laid out our thoughts on whether Restorative Yoga can be considered exercise. And, we discussed how Restorative Yoga may not be a practice that will help you melt away the pounds, but it will put you on a path to a healthier life, which will no doubt help you maintain or lose weight. And, we also talked about a common question: How much is too much Restorative Yoga? And, just as long as you listen you your body, you less the risk of overdoing it.
It’s a great time to learn a new pastime, so why not help yourself and troy Restorative Yoga? Start practicing today! Or even try restorative yoga teacher training!