Sarah helping to adjust clients at a recent restorative class

Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing, meditative, and therapeutic practice in which you learn to release tension and be at ease in your body and mind by allowing the earth and the props to completely support you. It’s the perfect antidote for our fast-paced, stressed-out lives. On this Q&A, Sarah Orlowicz answers the most common questions about Restorative Yoga.

How does Restorative Yoga work?

Restorative yoga is a receptive practice. At any given time, our bodies are under some level of stress, keeping our nervous system in a constant defensive mode (stress response). Restorative yoga allows us to function in a healing mode (relaxation response) by re balancing the way our nervous system is working.

For someone who’s new to Yoga, what should they expect from your Restorative Yoga class? 

The practice itself is gentle enough for anybody, whether in a hospital bed or a busy NYC studio. In the group classes that I teach, there is some movement and stretching and then we move into our longer, relaxing, restorative poses. We use blankets, blocks, bolsters, eye pillows and other props to mindfully set up these poses for optimal benefits. I am there to support the clients in whatever way I can and help their experience be positive and comfortable. Other than that, expectations can become roadblocks… try to come in with an open mind. The benefits will happen in each practitioner’s own time.

How has yoga affected your own life?

I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share the benefits that I found in my own practice with others… I think that says it all. Restorative yoga, in particular, has been a life-changing practice for me.

How do you respond to those who say Restorative Yoga is “easy” or “lazy”?

In the western world of workouts, sweat and weight loss resolutions, it’s seen as “easy,” but that’s not what restorative yoga is all about. It’s a meditative practice involving physical relaxation, easing the breath and quieting the mind, which is often more difficult than physical work because of the societal pressure to go, go, go! Restorative yoga is an advanced practice, but, at the same time, is accessible to all. Its benefits can be HUGE, whether it’s the only type of yoga someone does, or is just one of many modalities practiced.

How can Restorative benefit our metabolism?

By physically relaxing the muscles, the vessels that carry blood and lymph throughout our bodies also relax, lowering blood pressure, aiding digestion, and reducing inflammation. Our bodies enter into “rest & digest” mode, releasing hormones that promote wellness throughout, and reducing cortisol, which is a known cause of excess abdominal fat. There’s so much going on under the surface with a practice like this.

Restorative Yoga takes place every Wednesday at 6 p.m.