I spent this weekend undertaking a review of some Restorative Yoga books – some I had read before, some new, some I had reviewed before, some not.
What is Restorative Yoga? Like many things the act of trying to define it only makes it more difficult. Generally Restorative Yoga is considered to be a practice of deep relaxation for the body and nervous system. Its often conflated with Yin Yoga – the practices are different in content and intention – but to confuse matters I personally tend to practice and teach a fusion of the two – Restorative Yin (and in my next post, I’ll address counting angels on a pinhead). However we describe the practice, for the most part modern human is over stimulated and under rested – Restorative Yoga addresses this.
It is the yoga of being rather than doing, the yoga of non achievement.
How To Do Restorative Yoga – Michael Herrington – I last read this book in 2015, reviewing it then, and coming back to it was like an old friend. I often think about writing a book myself about the Restorative Yin approach I work with, but with books like this, why bother? Its short, focused, easy to read, and oozes self compassion.
If you want an easy to read book on a Restorative Yin approach, this is it, ideal for replicating class work at home.
I have this book for sale in the studio, and its available on Amazon
Relax and Renew – Judith Hanson Lasater – Judith Hanson Lasater is the grand doyenne of Restorative Yoga and this is her seminal work. I last read this book in 2015 and coming back to it after five years was a pleasure.
Comprehensive and clear, its suitable for students and teachers, and pays a lot of attention to detail whilst still allowing for individual variation.
Its a book that deserves a place on all Yoga Teachers shelves, even if Restorative Yoga isn’t your practice, and likewise the shelves of serious yoga students.
Restorative Yoga – Reduce Stress, Gain Energy and Find Balance – Ulrica Norberg – I hadn’t read this book before, but I had read, and liked, the authors book on Yin Yoga.
This book didn’t disappoint – the authors compassion and warmth come across, and the book is made more personal by her explaining how Restorative Yoga has helped her life. I liked the books simplicity in the suggested practices, and its readable section on the nervous system and our over stimulated world.
This is an extremely good reference work on the subject, and one I would endorse.
Restorative Yoga for Life – Gail Boorstein Grossman – Not an author I was familiar with, I found this book to be overly technical and heavily rooted in an Iyengar approach to Restorative Yoga. The later is no bad thing, not withstanding abuse allegations, BKS Iyengar’s legacy has had a profound and positive impact on modern yoga, however he was fond of unsubstantiated claims around health benefits of asana which don’t stack up very well against a contemporary understanding of Psychology, Physiology and Neurology. I had the sense that some of the postures shown in this book were not going to be all that restful, and from a Yoga Therapy mindset, I felt uncomfortable with some of the suggested routines and claims around benefits of postures.
I’ll be honest, I feel there are better books on the topic, but if you wanted a different perspective then the book may be worth a read
Restorative Yoga with Assists – Sue Flamm – This book is more aimed at Yoga Teachers, and uniquely covers hands on assists in Restorative Yoga. To me that latter aspect is problematic, as whilst therapeutic touch has benefit, I personally have grave doubts about being hands on in Restorative type postures where I feel its better to give students their space – but its not necessarily wrong, each to their own. Again, quite an Iyengar orientated approach, and some of the postures to me don’t look as restorative as they could be.
A useful book for teachers wanting a wider reference on the topic, but its not the first book I’d choose.