In the previous blog, I wrote about 8 Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful, in this post I’ll share information about Restorative Yoga, a practice that is ideal to do in your newfound Restful space.
You might wonder how a slow and simple practice like Restorative Yoga can help you live a better life. In this blog, I'll reveal the hidden secrets of this practice and how it can benefit you in your everyday life.
What Is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative Yoga is a floor-based yoga practice where you support your whole body using props like blankets, bolsters, blocks, and straps.
The ‘goal’ of the practice is to find the most effortless version of each pose so you can fully relax. Poses are held for extended periods of time to encourage physical and emotional release and calm your mind.
Follow @room_of_rest on Instagram for some Restorative Yoga sequences, resources, and recommendations.
What Are The Benefits Of Restorative Yoga?
Calms your mind
If your mind stays busy your body is active too, even when you think you are relaxing. Many people come to me after a Restorative Yoga class and say "I thought I knew how to relax my body, but now I see that there is so much further to go."
Restorative yoga calms a busy mind through stillness and the practice of being in the present moment. It’s natural to ruminate over the past and think about the future and there are few times in our day when we are 100% present.
By working towards a calm mind, you release physical and emotional tension, allowing for a calm mind and release of tension. Sounds blissful right?
It helps you avoid burnout
Restorative yoga puts your nervous system at ease, which makes you feel less burnt out. One of the causes of burnout is an overstimulated sympathetic nervous system, a.k.a fight, flight, freeze response.
When this nervous system response is heightened for long periods, your body doesn’t have time to recover from stress. Restorative yoga provides a counter-response by actively stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system, a.k.a your rest and digest response. By increasing your parasympathetic nervous system response you let your body and mind relax.
When you can take quality Rest, you are more likely to go through your day with more energy and focus. You might even notice that you have less brain fog and more attention.
A remedy for stress
One of the most common reasons people give for trying Restorative yoga is to reduce stress levels. When you are stressed, you find it challenging to relax and at first, you might even find Restorative yoga frustrating as you're expected to stay in stillness for long periods of time. I've seen this repeatedly, and those same people keep attending sessions and eventually their bodies ‘let their guard down’ and allow them to relax.
When you are stressed, your body doesn’t function as it ‘should’, which brings me to my next point.
When your body is under stress essential functions, like digestion, struggle to function at their optimal levels. Remember how Restorative Yoga helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system?
This is the state in which your digestive system functions at its best. When you rebalance your nervous system, you rebalance your digestive system too.
Recover from and avoid injury
If you live an active lifestyle Restorative yoga is the perfect practice to complement this. The key is in the name, it will help you to Restore balance to your body.
By allowing your physical body to deeply relax you give your muscles and joints the opportunity to release held tension. When we speak about resting injuries, this is what we mean, it doesn’t mean not moving at all, although sometimes this is necessary, it means practicing active Rest.
This is where Restorative yoga shines.
Restorative Yoga Vs Yin Yoga
If you read the blog “Introverts Guide to Yin Yoga” you might be wondering how Restorative Yoga is different from Yin Yoga.
There are definitely overlaps and similarities between the practices of Restorative Yoga vs Yin Yoga, however, their focus and purpose are different. They both move at a slow and deliberate pace and they both hold poses for long periods.
However, the intention behind Restorative yoga is to find the most relaxed version of the pose. I always explain this as finding a version of the pose in which you could almost fall asleep.
"It's considered gentler than Yin, and not a practice where you play with your edges or seek out any form of physical tension (stretching) or compression (pressure)..."
It's intended as a restorative practice, most often aimed at people recovering from or working with injuries or issues. However it's not only targeted at these individuals, anyone can practice Restorative yoga and benefit from it.
It's considered gentler than Yin, and not a practice where you play with your edges or seek out any form of physical tension (stretching) or compression (pressure), but a practice where you are fully supported using props, and a focus on finding comfort in each pose.
Restorative yoga uses more props and requires them to be soft, like blankets and pillows or bolsters. The softer props aid in deeper relaxation. When it comes to props for Yin Yoga, you can experience a well-rounded class with a couple of yoga bricks and a bolster.
In Yin Yoga, you are encouraged to play with your physical edges. You work with 2 main sensations, the sensation of tension (stretching) and compression (pressure).
When I refer to playing with edges, it's not about pushing your body to its limits. Steer clear of sensations like pain, numbness, or twinging during Yin. Enter the pose to the point where you start to feel a sensation and wait for your body to invite you to where it wants to go next.
As you can see, in Restorative Yoga you're seeking deep relaxation to encourage your body to Rest. In Yin yoga, you're seeking gentle sensations and paying attention to where your body wants to ‘go’ next.
Even though the practices might look similar on the surface, they have their differences.
How can Restorative Yoga Help you live a better life?
When your whole body is relaxed in a Restorative yoga pose it helps to balance your nervous system, and when your nervous system is balanced you are able to shift into your parasympathetic response with more ease. This allows for:
By reducing your levels of stress, you are able to move through your day from a calm, grounded place and not let the pressures of life get in the way.
As your sleep improves, so will your mood, general wellbeing, and the way that you interact with daily life.
Restorative yoga helps you to recover from and avoid injury by allowing your body and mind to practice active Rest.
There's a reason why they say, ‘listen to your gut’, when you are stressed, your digestive system will tell you. Restorative yoga helps you to activate your rest and digest response, which leads to improved digestion.
There are many valid reasons that I can give you for making Restorative yoga part of your life. If you're curious and want to give it a try, grab your headphones and try this audio-only Restorative Yoga class.
Let me know if you have any questions about Restorative Yoga in the comments below.