6 Benefits of Restorative Yoga
Restorative Yoga is very gentle and relaxing style of yoga. Don't expect to break a sweat if you go to a restorative class. But do expect to be pleasantly surprised with how amazingly relaxed you feel afterward. In our fast paced society, we all need to gift ourselves some peace and relaxation. You don't need to be burning a million calories every time you enter the studio. Your mind, body, and spirit need time to experience conscious relaxation as often as possible. Here are some benefits to bringing a restorative yoga practice into your life.
1. Reduces Stress: Conscious relaxation puts us in the parasympathetic state, or rest and digest state. We aren't reaching for our edge, or feeling self conscious in these poses. We are totally relaxed and supported and when we can spend at least an hour a week in this state it will trickle into our daily lives. You might even find yourself responding with a more relaxed attitude when someone cuts you off on the way to work.
2. Speeds up Healing Process: When you are 'on the go', your body dishes out energy to keep you 'on the go'. When you take time to relax, the body can focus on healing. Whether you are recovering from an injury, working through emotional pain, or disease, resting is the best, and fastest, way to heal.
3. Helps with Weight Loss: Relaxation is a key part of both weight loss and overall health. Relaxation reduces cortisol levels (as stress is reduced), which in turn reduces the body's need to conserve calories. When we gain weight under stress, our body stores it in the belly, which is the most unhealthy place to gain fat. It can compromise heart health and promote insulin resistance. Restorative yoga can also create more mindfulness which might help with more healthy food choices throughout the day.
4. Releases Tension: When in relaxed poses for 3-10 minutes at a time, you might notice where you are holding tension in the body. Breathing into those tense areas can help release tension leaving you feeling lighter and more mobile after class.
5. Develop Greater Self Awareness: During a restorative yoga class you have plenty of time to turn inward. It's a time to leave the outside world behind, turn on your internal eye, and move towards a greater knowing of your true self.
6. Helps with Your Meditation Practice: Restorative Yoga is essentially a mediation practice. You are in relaxed poses anywhere from 3-10 minutes at a time. Ideally the instructor is quiet during this time so you can really relax, turn inward, and meditate. When your mind is relaxed, your body can relax and hopefully (with some practice) vice versa. Your mind might race at first and this is normal...in fact you might find it to be the hardest yoga practice of all. Stick with it....bring an intention with you to class that you can focus on to quiet your mind, or focus on your breath. Over time it will get easier and you will find yourself meditating with ease, while enjoying all the added benefits a mediation practice offers.
How to enjoy a restorative yoga class:
~Check out your local studios and look for a class on their schedule. It will most likely be called Restorative Yoga, but some studios might call it something different. If unsure contact your local studio and ask which classes are restorative.
~Practice at home. All you need are a few props which could even be a couch cushion and your favorite cozy blanket. Search you tube or find blog articles that explain restorative poses, then practice them in the peace of your own home. Even doing 1 or 2 poses a day (maybe while watching tv in the evening) is beneficial.
~If you are unsure about going to a studio, but feel like you need some hands on guidance, find a practitioner who gives private lessons. It won't be long before you are hooked and attending your local studio for restorative classes weekly.