What is Restorative Yoga?
Do you ever struggle with those high-powered classes that never seem to slow down until the very end? Or maybe you have some injuries that are preventing you from performing at your best? For either reason, or one in between, you should be doing restorative yoga every once in awhile. While this style of yoga is gentler, softer and slower than Ashtanga or Bikram for example, the advantages are still plentiful.
“Taking time out each day to relax and renew is essential to living well” ~ Judith Hanson Lasater
Here are a few reasons to practice restorative yoga immediately:
- It releases tension.
The methodical movements in this style of yoga are exactly what some people need. One of the most incredible benefits is the detoxification and removal of negative energy from the body. Additionally, the use of props allows the muscles get a greater sense of support and release. When you feel the muscles loosen up, the free flow of energy creates a wash of warmth and joy. Tension is released and a deep, blissful state is restored.
- It heals the body.
There are several reasons restorative yoga is able to do this. The first is due to the duration of time spent fixed in each posture. When you can devote a longer amount of time to each asana, you are exposed more fully to the benefits. Unlike faster paced classes, where flowing from posture to posture is about hitting key points then moving on. Restorative yoga puts the focus on complete organ and system stimulation.
Secondly, by calming the mind and the body the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is activated. This involuntary system helps control your heart rate, intestinal activity, and other functions that you are usually not aware of. This means that you bring yourself into a homeostatic state, giving your body time to heal. What's more, your immune system will be given a healthy boost while the PNS is dominant.
In other words, restorative yoga is perfect for when you have a cold and don’t feel up to doing Sun Salutations.
- Restorative yoga increases your flexibility.
It’s fairly intuitive that restorative yoga can also effectively work your flexibility. However, it’s not through the same means other yoga disciplines contribute to your stretchiness. Because restorative yoga calls for postures to be held for two to three minutes (or sometimes even longer), the muscles are not compelled to automatically release. Rather, with gravity and time, the muscles slowly unwind, allowing a much deeper and more healthy stretch. Plus, the use of props will reduce possible risk of injury.
- Restless minds, be gone.
Restorative yoga is much more meditative than other forms of your favourite practice. As you hold postures for longer, you can focus on the breath (just as you would in corpse pose). Allowing you to sink deeper into your mind-body awareness. Additionally, restorative yoga is great for people who cannot silence their mind in traditional meditation but still want to reap the benefits!
- Emotional healing.
Ideally, as the mind grows calmer, you will find you can accept much more. Of course, this opening also allows negative emotions, like sadness and fear, to come bubbling forward. Restorative yoga has a unique way of making people shed a few tears…and there is nothing wrong with this. You are in a place where you are comfortable, and your emotions are recognised. You are allowed to cry and heal, and the relief that comes afterwards will be totally worth it.
What are you waiting for?
Now that you understand the true benefits of restorative yoga, you should definitely sign up for a class as soon as possible. Restorative yoga helps ease the body into a more routine practice. So even if you only do restorative yoga twice a month, you will be reaping amazing healing advantages that go beyond a regular yoga practice.