Restorative yoga is a very special type of yoga. Unlike the constant flow of vinyasa or the deep stretch of Hatha yoga, restorative yoga is a quiet, reflective, and mostly passive practice. Using props to support the body and long holds of poses (5-15 minutes), restorative yoga triggers the Relaxation Response and helps the nervous system recover from continuous daily stress.
The trouble is… many of the people who would benefit from restorative yoga are the same people who have trouble slowing down and sitting still.
They gravitate towards faster moving or higher intensity classes. And while the heat and flow might initially feel good, these forms of exercise don’t allow for the deep physical and mental rest that’s needed to balance a busy, active lifestyle.
Without this balancing rest, people might experience their stress actually increase over time, as well as other symptoms like insomnia, irritability, and increased risk of injuries.
Does this sound like you or someone you know?
Take a look at this list to find out if your body’s in need of some rest and relaxation:
When you wake up in the morning, you still feel tired.
You can’t fall asleep at night.
Your muscles and/or joints ache, and not because you just worked out.
You keep planning to “take some time for yourself,” but never get around to it.
You can’t stop multitasking, including at red lights, during meals, and even while you’re in the bathroom…
You take work home with you.
You take work to bed with you.
You feel edgy, like if someone cuts you off on the highway or the grocery line you might SNAP.
You spend your lunch breaks looking for last minute travel deals to exotic locations, like the rainforest or the desert.
You catch every cold that’s going around, and never seem to completely recover.
You have an injury, but have decided to “just push through it” and keep working out at the same level.
You checked your email/Twitter/Instagram/Facebook while reading this post.
Restorative yoga brings the body into deep relaxation, where it can heal on the cellular level. It also gives the mind a needed break from all the cray-cray thoughts that filter through on a daily basis. People who practice restorative yoga often experience relief from physical injuries, as well as greater mental clarity, better focus and attention, and less overall stress.
Based on the signs above, do you need restorative yoga?
If the answer is YES, here’s where to start:
Lie on your back. Place a rolled blanket/towel/pillow under your knees. Place a low blanket/towel/pillow under your whole head. Put something (a clean sock, facecloth, or eye pillow) over your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, concentrating on your exhale. If you find it difficult to stay still, try counting your breaths backwards from 11. Even if you don’t “feel” anything happening, know that even taking a few breaths in this restful pose brings benefits into your body and mind.
Stay as long as you like. When you’ve finished, come up slowly and take a moment seated before you stand all the way up.
Be honest: how many “signs” on this list resonate with you?
Love and rest,