Yoga has enormous benefits for both body and mind, but when the pace of life is fast, we may find our minds and bodies speed up to match it. Our minds start to race, we can feel overwhelmed, and drained. If we are also drawn to a strong, dynamic yoga practice or other high intensity exercise, then we may get overstimulated. Our nervous systems then take a beating.
Making sure we take some time out to practice Restorative yoga even once a week can help to balance our busy lifestyles and has an enormous capacity to heal stress-related physical and emotional issues. In Restorative yoga class we use props like bolsters, blankets and blocks to completely support the body in poses and we stay there for up to 10 minutes per pose. There is no muscular effort involved so Restorative yoga can also be helpful to try if you are chronically ill or recovering from injury.
Benefits of Restorative yoga
The beauty of Restorative yoga is that we don’t have to contract our muscles. Though we often believe we have to ‘work’ to increase our flexibility, we can in fact, achieve more opening by softening and relaxing than by forcing our way through a strong, dynamic asana practice.
The key difference is the approach. During a Restorative yoga sequence, we still stretch, but we’re encouraged to relax fully in the stretch with the aid of the props so that we can release tension and focus on the breath. This helps us to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for the rest / digest process), which helps combat that feeling of ‘overdrive’ that we often find ourselves in.
Because our body and minds become softer, this means we can also create the space to get in touch with our natural qualities of compassion and understanding of others and self.
Restorative yoga benefits
Deeply relaxes the body
Stills a busy mind
Releases muscular tension, improving mobility and flexibility
Improves capacity for healing and balancing
Balances the nervous system
Boosts the immune system
Develops qualities of compassion and understanding toward others and self.
Rest and accept
Do you remember the feeling of being truly relaxed; your body soft, warm and supple? Do you recall feeling so comfortable in your own skin that you hardly notice your physical body?
And what about that laid-back feeling of watching everything from a distance with a big smile on your face, knowing beyond a doubt that everything is okay, exactly as it is? In this state, you know that life is just as it is; that there is nothing to accept or reject.
Do you remember what it is like to rest in your true nature? To know that you are not separate from life, any more than the air in a balloon is different than the air surrounding it, or the wave separate from the sea.
The true meaning of yoga is to experience union. To see through the illusion of being a separate being. To see that we are all made out of the same energy, which is the ground of all being.
For me, Restorative yoga is a wonderful way of accessing deep relaxation; of understanding that sometimes doing nothing (resting in the now) can be one of the most powerful, supporting and healing practices of all.