Restorative Yoga | Utrecht

where you can charge your battery

Restorative yoga for recovery and relaxation

In our group lessons at iYoga Utrecht we always pay attention to relaxation, in addition to the active and dynamic yoga postures. Next to that, we also provide special Restorative classes, both in Utrecht and online. But what does that mean, “Restorative”?

It is derived from the verb ‘to restore’. In a Restorative yoga class remain in a posture for a longer period of time, supported by props such as blankets, pillows, bolsters and blocks. The goal is not to stretch or strengthen, but to achieve deep relaxation. The postures are soothing and at the same time invigorating and vitalizing. This way you stimulate your body’s natural recovery capacity. And all of this while you lie (or sit, or hang…) in a relaxed way and concentrate on your breathing and the sensations in your body.

So, restorative yoga is intended for recovery. But make no mistake, it is not only relevant when you are ill! Let’s be honest, everyone could use a little more balance, peace and relaxation in their lives, right?

Is ‘restorative’ different from Iyengar yoga?

Nope: the innovations of BKS Iyengar are the foundation of Restorative yoga. Because BKS Iyengar introduced yoga props into yoga practice, a wide range of supported postures have been added. He also conducted research into restorative and therapeutic applications in his own practice until he was very old.

In the ‘mother’ institute of Iyengar Yoga, the RIMYI in Pune, the classes have a theme every week of the month. Traditionally, the first week of a month is devoted to standing poses. Forward bends in the second week. The third week focuses on backbends, and in the fourth week it is time for restorative yoga postures and pranayama. These restorative sequences provide a counterbalance to the active lessons in the other weeks. The postures are offered in carefully composed series, so that the body can rest optimally without excessive exertion.

Is ‘Restorative’ the same as Yin Yoga?

To be honest, as an Iyengar yoga studio we don’t know much about Yin Yoga. But the distinction between Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga seems subtle at first glance. In both approaches you stay in postures for a long time and the emphasis is on breathing. Yet there are essential differences between these two forms of yoga. Yin Yoga was introduced in North America in the 1970s. It has its roots in Eastern disciplines such as Kung Fu and Taoist yoga, with a focus on stretching connective tissue. Restorative Yoga, on the other hand, is a more recent development, rooted in the principles of Iyengar Yoga. While Yin Yoga focuses on stretching the connective tissue, Restorative yoga focuses mainly on deep relaxation and releasing stress on a subconscious level. In Restorative yoga, postures are held for long periods of time – up to twenty minutes – allowing you to completely surrender to gravity and release tension, leading to a deep sense of peace in both body and mind.

For whom are the Restorative classes?

Restorative yoga is very suitable in the following situations:

  • if you are tired or have difficulty sleeping
  • if taking part in a regular Iyengar yoga class is too strenuous
  • if you are recovering from an injury, surgery or long-term illness
  • if you suffer from fatigue or burnout
  • in case of minor physical complaints (back pain, knee pain, etc.)
  • after heavy physical or mental exertion (such as dancers and athletes or students during exam time)

But even if you are fit and healthy, it is a good idea to regularly include a Restorative class in your program. It will help to keep your energy levels up and recharge your battery.

Both beginners and experienced practitioners can enjoy restorative yoga classes. Our teachers are good at adapting postures to different needs and injuries.

What are the benefits of Restorative yoga?

Physiological and neurological balance

The supported postures and the focus on calm breathing will help you achieve deep relaxation, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for promoting relaxation and recovery in the body, contributing to organ recovery and balancing the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the fight-or-flight response. Practicing Restorative Yoga regularly can help you cultivate a more balanced autonomic nervous system, which is essential for promoting healthy physiological and emotional balance. It can help lower your blood pressure and improve digestion.

Better sleep

Another benefit of Restorative yoga is the improvement of your sleep quality. By calming the body and mind, practicing Restorative yoga before bed can help regulate the sleep cycle and promote deeper sleep. And better sleep leads to more energy, a better mood and higher alertness during the day.

Greater body awareness

Restorative yoga can also help improve your flexibility and increase body awareness. Because the postures are held for a longer period of time and supported with props, your muscles have the opportunity to relax and release, increasing mobility in joints and promoting flexibility. Additionally, the slow, mindful nature of Restorative yoga practice encourages you to connect deeply with your body and your breath. This can lead to a better sense of where you are holding tension in your body. And if you are aware of that, you may be able to release that tension.

Contribution to emotional well-being

Finally, Restorative yoga can also be a powerful tool for emotional well-being and self-care. By creating space for silence, reflection and self-compassion, people who practice Restorative yoga can experience a deep sense of inner peace and calm. This can help reduce anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, and can promote a sense of well-being and resilience.

Would you like to read more about Restorative Yoga? Here you will find an article from the English Iyengar Yoga Association (IYUK) with a discussion about the benefits of restorative yoga in the post-covid world.

Would you like to start with Restorative yoga?

Whether you’re looking for stress relief, better sleep, improved flexibility, emotional balance or simply some time for yourself, restorative yoga can be a valuable addition to your health and wellness routine. We invite you to experience the invigorating power of restorative yoga at iYoga Utrecht and work with us towards a healthier and more balanced life.

You can start right away: register here for the next Restorative class! Both in Utrecht and online.

Or feel free to contact us if you have any questions.