Last summer, I was trying to heal from a neck injury and was unable to indulge in any form of exercise. Me being me, could not stay away from yoga for long. Landed myself into my first restorative yoga class. The studio had a nurturing vibe, soft music and dimmed lighting. The practice made me feel wonderful, more open and released some pain. Since then I became a regular at that class :)
Our lives are racing at full speed and so are our minds. I have realized, it is so important and difficult sometimes, to slow things down and let go.
In a restorative yoga practice, you stretch but relax fully so that tension slowly releases, both physically and emotionally. Poses like supported bridge, child's pose, legs up the wall and savasana are held for a few minutes and the use of props like bolsters, pillows, straps, blocks and blankets support your body in a long, comfortable stretch.
Here is why its worth spending some time opening up and breathing in to the benefits of this nurturing yoga practice -
Calms the Nervous System
The combination of a slow pace and deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn reduces the fight or flight response we are put in through the day due to our crazy demanding lifestyle. The heart rate then slows down to a healthy level and so do cortisol levels. The result is a calm and comforted mind, body and spirit.
Restorative yoga generally calls for holding poses anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes. All you are doing is breathing and letting go any tension you sense. With an extended hold like this, tight muscles stretch and release slowly. The use of props reduces the risk of straining muscles caused by rushing into a specific pose
Helps Heal and Balance
A regular practice helps keep the immune system strong. Works great when you are trying to heal from an injury, illness or emotional pain. You can still benefit from the amazing power of yoga even when you are not practicing active poses !
Helps Transcend into a Meditation Practice
It is difficult for many to sit calm and meditate. Restorative yoga is like a bridge between the familiar asanas and to some, an unfamiliar practice of meditation. The long held poses along with props is a powerful process helping one create space and let go. Muscles, joints and energy centers are enlivened to facilitate a comfortable and deeper meditation experience.
Better Body Awareness
For me, this one has been profound. The slow pace of this practice has helped me with a deeper understanding of my body, where I hold tension and how to let that go during my day. It has helped my inner being shine and boosted my sense of what it feels like to be a spiritual being in a material world. Which is what we all are, after all !
"You have no ambition to move or curiosity about the sounds that occur outside you". This deep relaxation and inward attention is known in yoga texts as Pratyahara a conscious withdrawal from the senses - that, is a state where you are resting in your true self.
Join me for some Restorative Yoga, Wednesdays, 7.30 pm @ Mt. Yoga, Poway !