Blog

9 Tips on Teaching Restorative Yoga Classes

teaching restorative yoga

Wondering how to teach a restorative yoga class? Look no further! 

We’ve pulled together 9 top tips to help you teach a restorative yoga class, whether you’re an experienced instructor or a newly qualified yogi.

Before we get into it, if you’re not already, get qualified with OriGym’s industry-leading yoga teaching training courses! Enquire today, or download our free prospectus here to browse the full range of courses we offer.

#1 Keep a Goal in Mind When Creating a Restorative Yoga Sequence

how to teach a restorative yoga class 3

When it comes to how to structure a restorative yoga class, our first tip is to always have a goal in mind for your class.

Keeping a goal in mind provides a topical focus or theme for your class, so you can plan a sequence which will allow you to meet these aims by the very end.

It’s also important that you communicate the themed goal of the class to your students beforehand, so that they know exactly what the desired outcome is. 

This means that they are able to practice each pose with a set intention, which encourages a more mindful practice.

Some examples of goals, themes, and topics that you could use when you teach Restorative yoga classes are:

  • Reducing anxiety
  • Destressing
  • Relieving pain
  • Dealing with PMS or menopause
  • Anti-insomnia
  • Fertility sequence

For more inspiration, check out our complete list of yoga class themes here

Students who leave your class feeling that they have achieved the goal or reached the desired outcome will feel a sense of achievement. This makes them much more likely to come back to your class again, helping you retain students! 

#2 Learning How to Teach a Restorative Yoga Class Involves Giving Specific Instructions for Props

how to teach restorative yoga

The aim of restorative yoga is for students to hold poses without effort or strain, for as long as possible.

To allow students to achieve this, a good restorative yoga class should therefore make use of props. 

Yoga props are simply pieces of equipment that can help make a pose easier, or more comfortable. Examples of yoga props include:

With this in mind, an important tip for learning how to teach a restorative yoga class is to put plenty of time and attention into helping your students use props.

However, the use of props in restorative yoga is different to how they are used in other styles of yoga. For example, unlike in types of yoga such as ashtanga and vinyasa where props are used to aid poses until strength is built, in restorative yoga, props are used in a more supportive and passive way. 

For example, a bolster can be used underneath the lower back in a savasana pose to help relax into the pose.

This helps to prevent students from having to unnecessarily hold their body up themselves, or engage their muscles in any way. After all, a restorative practice is all about relaxing and stretching the muscles, rather than building strength. 

It’s also important to remember that props should work to meet the body, rather than the other way round.

In terms of your role as a teacher, the more specific you are with your instructions for setting up props, and the more help that you offer, the less likely students are to become distracted whilst holding a pose.

This means that students will be able to get deeper into the practice. As a result, they’re likely to:

  • Feel more relaxed
  • Enjoy the sequence more
  • Keep returning to your class

Knowing how to teach restorative yoga students to set up their props before each pose is therefore crucial for helping your students get the most out of your teaching!

 

Start a career as a yoga teacher today

Enquire today to find out more about OriGym's Ofqual-regualted yoga teacher training courses!

#3 You Should Be Mindful of Transitions During a Restorative Yoga Sequence

how to teach restorative yoga 4

One of the most important tips for knowing how to teach a restorative yoga class is to be mindful of the transitions that you include in your sequences.

To maintain the relaxed atmosphere that restorative yoga requires, it’s important for transitions to feel organic and gentle- rather than chaotic and rushed.

Also, as props are used, you should encourage students to take more time than in other forms of yoga to allow for the adjustment of props. 

This will help to prevent the chaos of props being abandoned mid-sequence, as there’s nothing worse than ruining the relaxing energy in the room whilst students become tangled in straps!

You should therefore provide specific verbal instructions for transitions, letting students know how to mindfully move props out of the way and move into the next pose.

A handy tip to keep in mind when you teach restorative yoga classes is to give students an early cue when you’re reaching the end of a pose. For example, let them know that there are “5 more breaths” left in a pose. This allows them to mentally prepare for moving on to the next pose, rather than it being a surprise. 

If your studio has a light with an adjustable switch, you could also brighten the room slightly to indicate when a transition is coming up.

These cues will ensure that students are prepared for the transition, don’t feel rushed, and have plenty of time to come out of the pose at their own pace.

Knowing how to structure a restorative yoga class is important when it comes to transitions. For instance, you should offer rest poses such as child's pose straight after a transition.

Recovery poses such as these allow students to move slowly into the next pose, whilst maintaining the state of relaxation that is so crucial to the practice.

Check out our list of the best yoga sequence builders for some help on how to structure mindful transitions into your class. 

#4 Encourage Students to Hold Comfortable Positions When Teaching Restorative Yoga

how to teach a restorative yoga class 2

In other styles of yoga, students are often encouraged to push their bodies and abilities right to the edge, in order to hold positions and build strength.

However, in restorative yoga, students should be working to release tension, rather than cause it.

As a yoga teacher, it is therefore important that you emphasise the fact that students shouldn’t be feeling a deep stretch, but should instead be holding a comfortable position.

This may come as a shock for students who are used to practising more rigorous styles of yoga. Advanced students may feel that they do not want  to use props to help support them.

In fact, some students may ask if they can leave the props out, because they feel that they can stretch further into poses without using them.

This is something you will definitely encounter when teaching a class like yin yoga to students who are used to faster and stronger practices. So an important tip for learning how to teach a restorative yoga class successfully is to encourage students to use and ask for props.

By conveying the fact that the intention of the practice is to keep sensations neutral and poses comfortable, this will help to remind students that restorative yoga is relaxing!

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

#5 Create the Right Atmosphere When You Teach Restorative Yoga Classes

how to teach restorative yoga 2

The yogic concept of Pratyahara is a huge part of restorative yoga. This is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘sense withdrawal’, and involves limiting external distraction, so that students can concentrate their senses within and quiet the nervous system.

This is because the practice triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response. 

This response lowers stress levels and helps to promote a sense of calm, so your studio should have the correct atmosphere for helping students sink into the practice and trigger this response.

Knowing how to teach a restorative yoga class therefore involves ensuring that your space meets the 4 tenets of the practice that help bring about the state of Pratyahara, which are:

  • Quiet
  • Darkness
  • Warmth
  • Stillness

If these factors are achieved, students will be able to become fully immersed in their practice, rather than becoming distracted by a sudden noise or movement.

Some ways that you can ensure your students achieve the deep rest that they are looking for include:

  • Adding layers of clothing or blankets for warmth
  • Inviting them to wear an eye pillow
  • Play either no music or quiet, soft, and consistent music to muffle external noise.
  • Having periods of no talking, leaving time for self-contemplation
  • Dimming the lights

 

Start a career as a yoga teacher today

Enquire today to find out more about OriGym's Ofqual-regualted yoga teacher training courses!

#6 Check on Your Students Throughout the Restorative Yoga Sequence

how to teach a restorative yoga class

As we have discussed, the aim of restorative yoga is for students to let go and relax. In order to do this, it’s important that they feel safe and comfortable in the space that they are practising.

With this in mind, an important tip for how to teach a restorative yoga class is to keep communicating with your students throughout the class. This means checking in on them, asking if they need anything or feel comfortable. 

As well as this, you should also look for signs of effort or discomfort, and suggest interventions with props if you feel it is necessary to help your students.

Some ways to check up on students throughout the restorative yoga sequence include:

  • Telling students to give you a silent signal to indicate that they need your help during the practice. This could be as simple as putting their hand in the air, or a hand on the belly.
  • Helping a student with the setup of their pose
  • Bringing props to students during the sequence if you notice that they would benefit from them

As well as showing that you care, this also builds up a sense of trust between you and your student. This will then make them more likely to come back to your class again, as being trustworthy is one of the key things that makes a good yoga teacher

#7 Teaching Restorative Yoga Classes Involves Upholding Health and Safety Measures

how to teach a restorative yoga class 4

One of the most important tips for teaching restorative yoga is to always have the health and safety of your students in mind.

Although poses are performed with an emphasis on students being gentle and comfortable, the poses are still held deeply, and so can cause injuries if performed incorrectly.

When learning how to instruct restorative yoga classes, you should tell students to be aware of their bodies, and to not overextend themselves.

At the start of the class, you should advise students to immediately stop performing a pose if they are feeling any sort of pain, and to let you know if anything is causing particular discomfort.

This allows you to offer them variations to poses and to keep an eye on them throughout the class.

You should also ask at the start of the class if anyone has any ongoing health issues you should be aware of, or is pregnant. Check out our tips for working with pregnant clients for advice on how to adapt your teaching for pregnant students. 

To make sure that students are practising safely and comfortably, you should ensure that they are aware of how to use props. 

For example, rather than just handing a student a block, make sure to tell them exactly how to use it! 

#8 Don’t be Afraid of Silence When Learning How to Teach Restorative Yoga Classes

how to teach restorative yoga 3

When practising or learning how to teach a restorative yoga class, poses are held for long periods of time- often several minutes.

During this time, it’s pretty normal to have long stretches of silence, which can leave new teachers feeling nervous without having instructions to give.

Despite this, it’s important to ignore the urge to fill any empty space left by this silence, as speaking constantly can be distracting for students.

This is because silence supports the process of relaxation by giving students the chance to unwind, and fully immerse themselves in the class.

If you are struggling to overcome feelings of discomfort, why not try attending a restorative yoga class as a student?

Knowing how to structure a restorative yoga class can help you feel more confident in those periods of silence, and will help you to appreciate its importance. 

On the other hand, if you feel that your students are uncomfortable with the silence, you should remind them of the relaxation goals of the restorative yoga sequence that they are practising.

Including elements of pranayama- or yogic breathing, is also a good way to help students embrace silence. By helping them focus on their breath, they will become more engaged with the practice, helping to dissolve any awkwardness that they could be feeling about the moments of silence.

Another good way to do this is to play music during your restorative yoga class. However, choose wisely! Slow, ambient music without lyrics is best, to help feed into the relaxing nature of restorative yoga. 

Check out our list of the best yoga playlists for some inspiration for the kind of yoga to play in your restorative yoga class. 

#9 Ensure That You Feel Relaxed When Learning How to Instruct Restorative Yoga

how to teach a restorative yoga class

Rather than simply standing at the front of the room and instructing students, knowing how to teach a restorative yoga class also requires you to adopt the role of guide and caregiver for your students.

A huge part of being a good yoga teacher is to ensure that students have confidence in you and your abilities. The best way to do this is to make sure that you feel relaxed when you are teaching, as this will naturally rub off on your students!

To prepare yourself for this, you need to go into class with a different mindset than other styles of yoga. For example, for a power yoga class, you will need to have a high level of energy. But with restorative yoga, you need to have a more calming and relaxing effect on your students.

Being able to let go of your own stress puts you in a better position and into the right mindset for helping students to let go of theirs, meaning that they’ll have a much better experience!

Part of the process of learning how to teach a restorative yoga class is tuning into your body, so we’d advise you to do whatever helps you to relax before class.

Some suggestions of some activities that will get you in a relaxed mood include:

  • Practice meditation
  • Perform some gentle stretches
  • Try Ujjayi breathing- focus on inhaling and exhaling through the nose

 

Start a career as a yoga teacher today

Enquire today to find out more about OriGym's Ofqual-regualted yoga teacher training courses!

Before You Go!

We hope that our article has taught you everything you needed to know about how to teach a restorative yoga class.

Whether you’re a newly qualified teacher, or a regular on the yoga scene, these tips should give you the confidence to plan a sequence, perform, and help students achieve their yoga goals.

If you’re not already, start your career as a yoga teacher by taking a yoga teacher training course with OriGym today! You can also download our course prospectus for free, to browse the full range of courses available at OriGym. 

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

Recommended Posts

Download Your FREE Yoga Course Prospectus

Download Your FREE Yoga Course Prospectus