Need a life ring? Then try Restorative Yoga

This year has challenged us like no other – we’ve had to deal with fear on all levels, economic and career uncertainty and literally rethink how we live our lives.

Gone are the casual hugs and kisses when we greet one another, dancing among friends feels like a distant memory and even a high five on the soccer pitch isn’t allowed.

When we are left to deal with something of such huge proportions it is no surprise that we need something special to help us cope. A practice that embodies the koshas – that will support us physically, energetically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

For more and more of us this has been Restorative Yoga. This class has appeared on more and more studio timetables – not just in Australia but around the world.

But we all know that yoga is restorative – but what does Restorative Yoga do that is different?

I should probably explain what Restorative Yoga is first – Judith Lasater (widely regarded as the Queen of Restorative Yoga) describes it as active relaxation.

It is supporting the body in shapes (based on asanas) with props, such as blankets, bolsters and blocks, so the body is completely held, invoking a sense of safety and security. These positions encourage the flow of prana, stillness in mind and body which invites a gentle unravelling of tension. The positions are held for long periods – from 3-5 minutes or more. You can observe Antar Mouna (inner silence) or focus on pranayama techniques, guided meditation and so much more… it is a nourishing delight for the entire mind and body and feels a bit like a five star meditation practice!

My restorative yoga practice has been my pathway out of anxiety, depression and stress ever since the year when I had to cope with the death of my mum, the pregnancy of my first child and the loss of my corporate job. It was a year of personal upheaval and deep grief. My life ring was Restorative Yoga and it has been my go-to practice ever since.

So what sets it apart from other types of yoga? 

It is effortless

Now this is a strange concept to overcome. To achieve something in life we are conditioned to put in effort, but effortless?! What’s the catch!?

The irony is that doing something that is effortless is difficult! In the case of Restorative yoga we need to let go of the desire to be “doing,” and focus on being still both in body and mind…

It is slow

Restorative Yoga takes slow to a whole new level – again we are conditioned to move quickly in life in a bid to “get things done” but how strange when we are now invited to move slowly. Then we discover the more we practice moving slowly the more enticing it becomes… the moment we move slowly we are far more aware of our body – of where tension may reside in our muscles – of what we need to do to nurture ourselves and respond to what our body needs.

It is supportive and safe

At times of upheaval this is exactly what we need. To be reassured – to be wrapped up in a blanket of peace and tranquility – not just physically but mentally. To simply have time and space to digest change on gross and subtle levels through our mind and body.

As you can imagine Restorative Yoga has a myriad of benefits for the mind, body and soul. It encourages us to move from a reactive state where our sympathetic nervous system is engaged to the rest state of our parasympathetic nervous system. Restorative Yoga helps us learn how to consciously relax.

And so we begin to experience benefits to the entire body.

Physically our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all naturally lower.

Energetically, we conserve energy and sleep more soundly with a better quality of sleep which means we are less likely to feel depleted.

Emotionally we are less prone to depression, anxiety and anger. Our vagus nerve is more likely to be functioning in a healthy, harmonious way which means we are better decision makers, more resilient and generally,.. well more content.

Intellectually regular restorative yoga and deep relaxation can slow brain waves – you can experience this when often you begin a class with a lot of thoughts buzzing in the mind and by the end of the class you are feeling a greater sense of clarity and calm. Ironically in this state we are better wired to deal with stress management and have a higher level of cognitive function.

And finally this practice promotes the opportunity for meditation and spiritual awareness. To help us savour the special moments in our life and our connection to nature, ourselves and each other.

So there you have it – just a few good reasons for why Restorative Yoga is a wonderful practice – for you and your students.

You can experience two delicious days learning about Restorative Yoga while you practice. It’s the ultimate weekend retreat where you get all the benefits – while you learn!

To find out more or book on please click HERE.

Katie Brown has been teaching Yoga for 20 years and has written and presents the IYTA’s Restorative Yoga Certificate. She is an author, has produced a range of DVDs, CDs and online programs and is a qualified massage therapist.

Broccoli, raisin and sunflower salad

Asked to bring a salad to a BBQ or just keen for a new take on broccoli? Then you’ll love this easy-to-prepare salad


2 heads of broccoli

1 cup of raisins

½ cup of sunflower seeds (or slivered almonds)


3/4 cup of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

Pinch of white sugar

Optional – squeeze of lemon



Finely chop broccoli including the stalks and put into a large bowl. Then add raisins and sunflower seeds.

In a separate bowl mix all the ingredients for the dressing, then add to the main bowl.

Mix thoroughly and either eat immediately or swap to an airtight container and place in fridge.

Spring veggie couscous

This versatile couscous dish is delicious as a side or as a main meal. It’s light, nutritious and perfect to pack in a lunchbox!


Red onion

2 large carrots

2 cups of couscous

3 cups of water

1 cube of vegetable stock

2 beetroots

1 tomato

1 block of halloumi cheese (cut into 1cm strips)

3-4 sprigs of mint

3 cups of baby spinach leaves

Handful of walnuts

Lemon for garnish and Greek yoghurt if desired



Pre heat the oven to 200C

Chop the red onion into wedges, the carrots into 1cm batons and the beetroot into 1cm cubes

Then place veggies on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil

Place in oven for 25 minutes or until golden

While the veggies are baking, cook the couscous – bring water to the boil in a pan and crumble in the stock.

Then add the couscous and set aside (with lid on the pan) for 5 minutes.

When couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff up with a fork.

Then add a drizzle of oil to a medium frying pan and cook halloumi until golden on both side. When cooled cut into 1cm squares.

Chop up the tomato, mint and spinach leaves and add this to a large bowl. Then add couscous and halloumi – stir to mix up and then add walnuts and roasted veggies.

You may wish to garnish with lemon wedges and add Greek yoghurt to taste. Enjoy!

Free up that energy!

Spring gives us the opportunity to refresh and revive not just our home, but ourselves and our yoga practice. And these two classes will give you just that opportunity…

IYTA is running two special seasonal classes to mark the transition to warmer weather and burgeoning energy.

The first class will be taught by the ever-popular Sarah Manning. Sarah says: “Spring – is an expansive germinating new energy. It’s a time to do new things or renew an old, familiar but perhaps neglected, practice – with fresh eyes.

With Covid – we are transitioning into a new way of living; a new way of teaching; receiving; sharing; connecting those with a resistance to change – may need to look at why… it generates anger and frustration as we struggle with new practices, new technology, new ways of doing things…if this is you – we get it!”

Sarah advises just booking in to free up the energy, to germinate and be brave!

Funnily enough the seasons aren’t particularly obvious where Sarah lives in Singapore. She says: “Here in Singapore, seasons are less apparent – but they do exist. The wind direction that created the historic trade and prosperity of SE Asia followed the monsoons. Half the year it is south westerly, bringing the ships from China and sending to the West – the other North Easterly, taking back to China and from the West. We have drier and wetter seasons – poor grandma always visits at Christmas – our wettest, coolest part of the year!”

Sarah adds: “The traditional Chinese, and thus temperate, seasons are Spring, Summer, late Summer, autumn and winter. The sensitivities following the same five seasons are – wind, summer heat, dampness, dryness and cold.

So, for the season of strong wind, labelled Spring, and those with imbalances related to the Liver and Gallbladder – they will be uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, sensitive to draughts and stirred up by and edgy with the wind.”

And our other Spring yoga class is being taught by Radha Salliann Vine who has been teaching yoga and meditation for nearly 20 years. Radha is trained in Satyananda style and runs regular seasonal workshops and women’s events.

This class will acknowledge the Spring Equinox – a time when the earth is in momentary balance with equal night and day. A perfect time to come together to enjoy a flowing practice of poses and guided meditation to honour the spring energy. For this class you’ll need to create your own puja altar table with an ode to each of the elements.

To find out more and book into these classes please click HERE.

Sadhana, Dharma and Almond Croissants…

If you feel in need of a practice which honours inner reflection (and gives you a day off for almond croissants), then check out the IYTA’s Meditation and Pranayama course

There are a multitude of yoga courses which claim to be fast-track and offering quick qualifications. But the Meditation and Pranayama course run by David Burgess for the IYTA is the exact opposite of a short dip-in course.

It is a lived experience – which will take around a year of regular practice – and one which will nurture your learning on many levels.

The course is online and presented in a week-by-week format with specific practices, recommended reading and self-assessment quizzes. It also involves regular journaling with ongoing support and feedback from David. For many students this incremental development (and David’s ongoing feedback) is the real strength of this course.

David (who has been teaching yoga for the best part of 50 years) says six days of practise a week is optimal and then take the seventh day off. “The recommendation is that you don’t practise” he says: “To prove to both yourself and those you love that you are not a fanatic!”

He goes on to say in the words of Charles Dickens that on this day “spend a good portion of it in a state of amiable dissipation and do so with unbounded license!”: sleep in and have an almond croissant for breakfast and a second cup of tea, go for a stroll, spend quality time with family and friends, read a non-relevant book…..

And he adds if you don’t have time for this day then the chances are you will struggle finding time on the other days for sadhana.” I am so very busy,” is rarely a useful sankalpa,” he adds with a wry grin.

So, if you feel you are ready to commit to this course – and David stresses, that knowing when to commit is a skill in itself! If you have children and/or a mortgage then the branches of Karma, Bhakti and Gyana Yoga might take priority for now.

But if you are ready to explore yoga beyond the asana – and you don’t have a myriad of commitments – then this could be the perfect time…

The online course is broken into three terms. With the pranayama component the first term is dedicated to a category of practices known as Prana Nigraha. These are the foundational breathing practices upon which the classical pranayamas are built.

The Prana Nigraha practices develop heightened breath awareness and sensitivity, breath control and expanded breath capacity, these are all prerequisite to accurate and safe performance of the pranayamas.

David says: “Many of us these days have lost our natural pattern of breathing and need to attend to this before moving into the classical techniques.”

The subsequent pranayamas fall into three categories: Balancing e.g. Nadi Shodhana, Tranquilising e.g. Ujjayi, Bhramari, Sheetali and Vitalising e.g. Swarna, Kapalabhati and Bhastrika.

The more technically complex practices are deconstructed and then reconstructed over weeks and months. In most weeks three nominated practices are done each day in sequence and followed by meditation practice (dharana).

And just as there are categories of pranayama e.g. vitalising balancing, heating cooling, tranquilising, there are categories of meditation taught on the course.

For example: Compassion and Loving Kindness, Open Monitoring, Mindfulness, and Focussed Attention. In this course the meditation techniques are drawn from the latter category, (focussed attention). Techniques from this category include Kaya Sthairyam, Trataka, Japa, Akasha, Ajapa Japa and Antar Mauna.

David says this is because in meditation: one size does not fit all!

So are you ready to make this commitment and reap the rewards? Sign up now or find out more about this wonderful course.

And if you’d like the full transcript of this interview with David please click HERE