This style of yoga evolved from the work of B.K.S.Iyengar and encourages both healing and rejuvenation in the physical body as well as promoting evenness of the mind. Generally most poses are supine and supported by props. These longer holdings help to release muscular tension and bring about a relaxation response in the nervous system.
Even at the best of times we can exhibit a stress response to our environment. Restorative yoga allows the space for the parasympathetic nervous system to operate and promote a release from the flight or fight response of the sympathetic nervous system. The outcome is a relaxed, grounded and more centered state of being.
The practice differs from other introspective yoga systems in that the poses are supported by props, encouraging a safe letting go. With the release in the physical body, the mind also has the opportunity to undo, and we witness a more subtle sense of internal movement. To this end the restorative class will also incorporate some meditation practice and some gentle breathing practice.
For a person with an active asana practice, the restorative practice not only provides a balance to some of our more goal orientated tendencies, it also helps us to be reached by the more subtle layers of movement which can then illuminate an active practice. For those people who are challenged by an active practice, the restorative practice can be very therapeutic and can start to open and heal the body in a way which may enable more active movement.