Restorative yoga is a slow and passive yoga practice. The objective of this yoga style is to allow the body to consciously release muscular tension and relax the nervous system.
Props, props, props
Yoga props are a common feature of a restorative yoga class. We use yoga blocks, blankets and bolsters to support the body. When you step into a restorative yoga class, the teacher should inform you of the props you will need for the class.
Less is more
Due to the length of time we stay in each posture, you may do only three to four poses during the hour. Use the time to get to know your body and notice where you may be feeling tense. It is a time to explore the art of letting go, so notice how you feel when you allow tension to drain from the body.
Help! I can't relax!
Go easy on yourself. The art of relaxation is becoming a lost art, due to the rise of grind and hustle culture. If you grew up in a culture where work and exhaustion are prized as status symbols, your brain is hardwired to keep going. Many people are also daunted by the sense of failure - a fear of failure to relax (ironic, but real!).
What makes restorative yoga close to a meditation style is how it gives you time for self-inquiry, and sometimes it can be one of the scariest things we can undertake. It can be daunting to be alone with your thoughts, yet it is an opportunity to get to know yourself better.
I fell asleep. Isn't that a waste of time?
Spending an extended period of time in a supine position primes your body to drift off to sleep. Staying consciously relaxed is precisely what makes this class one of the most difficult yoga practices of all. While the ultimate goal of the practice is to hover in the restful state just before sleep, your body will fall into the realm of sleep if it needs the rest. Do not feel ashamed of drifting off to sleep, just keep practising.
The first couple of classes can feel like a challenge, or a waste of time. However, if you maintain a sustained practice and keep an open mind, you will find yourself better equipped to deal with stress, more grounded with a security in your own self-knowledge.
Restorative yoga can be a tool for personal development and growth, only if you are willing to do the work... passively.