Much like Iyengar yoga, restorative yoga makes full use of props. However, take a restorative class and you’ll quickly understand the difference. Here props are used to facilitate complete relaxation for the ultimate in stress relief.
Restorative yoga is ideal for anyone who is recovering from an injury, chronically ill, under stress, or looking to balance a more intensive yoga practice. In fact, we all could use a little restoration in our lives, which explains why Savasana (Corpse pose) is one of our society’s most loved yoga poses.
In restorative yoga, poses are set up with no muscular contraction. Your body might be in a deep backbend, but the generous use of blankets, blocks, and bolsters makes the stretch passive. The spine is stretched in all directions, as it is in any other yoga class—forward, backward, and side-to-side. Prop-supported inversions are also included as part of a well-balanced sequence. Poses can be held for as long as 20 minutes, so the body and mind get a chance to find stillness.
The late B.K.S. Iyengar is credited with founding restorative yoga. In his early teaching years, Iyengar started using props to make yoga poses more accessible and less strenuous to his students. His popularity blossomed in the United States during the 1960s. Both Iyengar and restorative yoga have since grown to be a prominent style practiced today.
Iyengar’s early student Judith Hanson Lasater, author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times, is credited with popularizing both Iyengar and restorative yoga. She has taught yoga since 1971 and is considered a master on the subject of the restorative style.
Restorative yoga teacher trainings are taught across the country. They are often offered as short 20 to 40-hour courses to be taken after completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Judith Lasater offers her own certification program called Relax and Renew. Her 20-hour courses are taught over the span of five days and offered all around the world—from New York City to Dallas and from Canada to China. For more information about her training, click here.