Restorative Yoga – Overview

Lesson Overview

In this Asana Digest, we explore Restorative Yoga as a category, including its intention, effects, philosophy and cautions. Next, we provide specific teaching considerations for Restorative Yoga.

  • Features: Restorative Yoga as a category, plus the individual poses listed below.
  • Objective: Become knowledgeable about Restorative Yoga as a category, and apply knowledge of Restorative Yoga to explore specific teaching considerations.
  • Description: Explain the Sanskrit naming of Restorative Yoga poses and explore the purpose and intention; philosophy and principles; benefits and effects; and teaching cautions for Restorative Yoga. Provide verbal cues and other teaching support, plus sequencing considerations, teaching poses and variations, and hands-on support.

Poses Included Here

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Viparita Karani (Inverted Action / Legs up the Wall)

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose / Wide Legged Child’s Pose)

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)

Restorative Backbend

Restorative Setu Bandhasana

Restorative Forward Bend

Constructive Rest



“sava” = corpse

Corpse Pose

Viparita Karani

“viparita” = inverted or reversed

“karani” = doing or making

Inverted Action

Also known as: Legs Up the Wall



“bala” = child

Child’s Pose

Adho Mukha Virasana

“adho” = down

“mukha” = face

“vira” = hero

Downward Facing Hero Pose

Also known as: Wide Legged Child’s Pose and Utthita Balasana (Extended Child’s Pose)

In Bikram Hot Yoga, called Half Tortoise Pose: Ardha Kurmasana

Supta Baddha Konasana

“supta” = reclining or sleeping

“baddha” = bound

“kona” = angle

Reclined Bound Angle Pose


“makara” = a mythological sea creature

“The vehicle of Varuna, the god of the ocean… denizen of the deep, the makara is the vehicle for the ruling energy of the second chakra.” (Sandra Anderson)

Known as Crocodile Pose

Heart of Poses


Purpose / Intention

  • The focus of Restorative Yoga can be described as “alert relaxation.”
  • Restorative Yoga is designed to support an increasing ability to experience “Beingness,” — a quality of awareness not related to external circumstances or “doing.”
  • While “yin” in nature, Restorative Yoga is different from the style called Yin Yoga (which is designed to stress ligaments, fascia and bones).
  • Restoratives poses are not intended to stretch or strengthen, but rather to release ever-deeper layers of tension.

How Poses Are Categorized

Restorative Yoga is often considered to encompass these supported postures:

  1. Supported Inversions: Legs Up the Wall, Legs on a Chair
  2. Mountain Brook / Supported Backbend Variation
  3. Supported Bridge Pose
  4. Other Supported Backbend Variations such as a propped chest opener and variations of Fish Pose
  5. Supported Basic Relaxation / Supported Savasana (Corpse Pose)
  6. Supported Child’s Pose
  7. Supported Reclined Bound Angle
  8. Supported Reclined Hero
  9. Supported Reclining Twist
  10. Supported Seated Wide Angle
  11. Supported Seated Forward Bend
  12. Supported Side Lying Stretch

Other times, a pose or sequence may be called Restorative and include such poses as Apanasana or Supta Padangusthasana with strap.

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