Restorative yoga is a relaxing style of yoga that heavily uses props such as bolsters, blankets, and blocks in order to minimize straining. Once you are set-up in a restorative pose you will stay there for awhile – often 10-15 minutes – in order to give your muscles time to let go. Restorative poses are usually seated postures that take advantage of gravity’s ability to push us towards the earth, as opposed to more active yoga postures in which we are challenging ourselves by standing up to gravity’s nature.
Known to relieve stress and anxiety, restorative yoga has shown itself to be beneficial for individuals recovering from traumatic events or suffering from depression, and as an effective way to speed along healing after an injury or illness. Additionally, it’s known to be great for that annoying thing that happened to you at the office today and/or an excellent way to let go that hurtful thing your relative said over Thanksgiving (I mean… who are they to judge you anyway?!).
Here are 5 reasons why we recommend trying out Restorative Yoga:
1. It’s accessible to most bodies. Restorative yoga is about using props to get comfortable in a pose, and it is highly adaptable. It’s a great place to start as a beginner, senior, someone recovering from an injury, or as any individual in need to rest and relaxation.
2. It targets parts of the body where many of us experience chronic pain. Sore lower back? Pain in your neck? Tension in your hips? Restorative yoga helps you learn your body’s patterns for holding tension, and trains you in the art of relaxing. The poses are approachable, and you are always welcome to ask the instructor if he/she can recommend any restorative poses for specific areas of your body.
3. Restorative yoga can improve your sleep. If you are experiencing insomnia, restorative yoga might offer some relief. A small study at Harvard has shown that yoga has significant improvements in sleep efficiency, and the overall time spent sleeping for individuals with chronic sleeplessness. Restorative yoga’s intentionally relaxing and meditative style is especially well suited to create these benefits.
4. Restorative yoga can decrease your stress level. Since more active yoga classes may release endorphins and cause you to sweat, some folks are reticent to try a restorative yoga class in which it seems like you, “aren’t doing anything.” However, therapeutic forms of yoga such as restorative actually help restore your nervous system. Restorative yoga allows you to give your fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system a break while your parasympathetic nervous system returns and engages.
From Forbes Magazine, When the parasympathetic nervous system switches on, “blood is directed toward endocrine glands, digestive organs, and lymphatic circulation, while the heart rate and blood pressure are lowered,” says Sarah Dolgonos, MD.
5. Once you know the poses you can do them on your own at home. Now, of course we want to keep seeing you at Serasana, but once you’ve learned a few of the poses you can practice on your own in your living room. Even just 10-15 minutes of yoga (aka: one restorative pose) can be of great benefit. Remember that saying about planting a tree? The best time to plant a tree is fifty years ago, the second best time is today? Well, the same applies to yoga: if you already have a yoga practice – great! Come try restorative as a complement. If yoga is totally new to you – great! Come try restorative as a place to start.