What is Restorative Yoga you ask?
Restorative Yoga is the use of props to create positions of ease and comfort that facilitate relaxation and health.
For the physical body, Restorative Yoga is about active relaxation.
For the brain and the mind, the mental body, Restorative Yoga is about many things for different people; perhaps cultivating an easeful meditation practice, or making time to think and reflect. It could be time for you to daydream, to deeply relax, or just a time to provide a pause in your day to connect with whatever is going on in your life, in a safe and comfortable place.
Often, most of us are ON all the time, running around doing this and that, ticking boxes and to-do lists, looking after others and feeling like there is always something that needs to ‘get done’!
Meanwhile we continue to operate from the
SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM . . .
Most of us live this way – it has become the norm, but when the body is in the sympathetic nervous system, we are effectively ready to go to war! What this means is – the diaphragm is inhibited while we shallow breathe more, mouth breathe more, then there is no digesting going on, the immune system shuts down healing processes, the reproductive system suffers, and as the breath becomes shallow, we experience what it’s like to live in stress!!
Just the way we breathe alone can affect the pH of the body, shallow breathing results in over-breathing – making the blood ph more alkaline; in turn making us more reactive and emotional, more sensitive and edgy, increasing thought activity in the brain, leading to anxiety, sleeplessness, and thus starts the disconnect from our true Selves. Reacting instead of responding, becoming more defensive and less compassionate, and beginning to make less conscious decisions that can have a really big effect on our lives.
When is the last time you did just ONE THING? And focused on that.
Like taking a walk and not looking at your phone, or enjoying your coffee without posting a pic to Instagram?! Aren’t we all getting more and more used to this being normal?!
And what about having a chat with a friend on the phone, without trying to achieve something else at the same time, like fold the laundry or read your emails?!!!
When did you last carve out some time in your day to have some true rest? I don’t mean lie on the couch in front of the TV. Or lie on the couch in front of the TV with your phone in your hand and every now and then checking your Facebook or Twitter?! Can you even drive home and not be making a to-do list in your head, or checking one off. Or use it as a time to call your mum?!!
Practising Restorative Yoga, is the YIN to the YANG of our lives. We are propping ourselves in to yoga poses that are supported, so there is no muscle activation going on. This allows not only the parasympathetic nervous system to be turned on, but actively doing nothing, allows the sympathetic nervous system, and other systems that affect our bodies to be switched OFF, eg. the musculo-skeletal system. When all this is synchronised, we experience deep physiological rest which feeds, nourishes and supports all the bodily systems, these systems we have been starving of this nourishment.
“Without a doubt, the need for such a practice is great in today’s exhausting and time-pressured world. Countless studies show the ill-effects of stress on the mind, body and spirit. We all need a few minutes a day to disconnect, settle into ourselves, and rest in silence. Not only does this brief practice have the immediate effect of creating a calmer, more present mind, but it also has marked physical and psychological benefits, like lowering blood pressure and elevating and stabilising mood.”
– Judith Hanson Lasater
Some interesting links to research on the benefits of this practice:
RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR HOT FLUSHES
ADOPTING YOGA/MEDITATION-BASED LIFESTYLE MODIFICATION CAUSES REVERSAL OF MARKERS OF AGING