Restorative yoga might not be the initial sort of yoga that enthusiasts consider, but incorporating this practice into your exercise routine only once per week can have profound impacts on your physique and psyche.
Restorative yoga is a yoga practice with a singular objective: to relax. By utilizing various lightweight “props” such as quilts and blocks, you can alleviate stress from the body, which also has profound effects on the mind. Here is all the information you need regarding the practice, including how to integrate it into your own fitness regimen and how to get started.
What is Restorative Yoga?
“Restorative yoga is an immensely soothing yoga practice concentrated on passive stretching and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to diminish stress,” clarifies fitness and yoga instructor, Charlie Covey, who currently teaches at Barry’s Denver. “This is the portion of our brain that assists us in ‘repose and digest’ as opposed to ‘fight or flight,’ which is initiated by the sympathetic nervous system.”
There are a few distinctions between traditional yoga and restorative yoga. In restorative yoga, for instance, poses are sustained for considerably longer durations compared to a vinyasa class. “Three to five-minute holds are customary, with certain poses extending up to seven minutes,” states Covey. “Props are utilized to assist the body in achieving maximum relaxation. You settle into the form, lie on your props, and let gravity gently perform the remaining work to grant you a profound, passive stretch.” Sounds blissful. Are you prepared to give it a try?
Advantages of Restorative Yoga
The benefits of restorative yoga appear to be never-ending. Apart from aiding in chronic pain relief and muscle recovery, “certain studies even propose that restorative yoga can enhance the immune system,” says Covey.
Similar to meditation, restorative yoga can help stabilize the nervous system, reduce blood pressure, and foster a feeling of tranquility and relaxation. This is attributable to the deep, regulatory breathing encountered in the practice, in addition to profound stretches.
Crucial Props for Restorative Yoga
We have already mentioned props multiple times in this article, so let’s delve into how they relate to restorative yoga practices. “Props, resembling comforting companions, become our pillars of support, cradling us in comfort and facilitating comprehensive relaxation,” elucidates fitness instructor Samantha Boozer.
Props employed in restorative yoga encompass blankets, bolsters, straps, and eye pillows. “Each prop serves a unique purpose, permitting us to discover comfort and ease in every posture,” explains Boozer.
They aid in minimizing tension on the physique, fostering a greater state of calm, and fostering a feeling of assurance and steadiness.
3 Essential Relieving Yoga Poses for Reducing Stress and Achieving Relaxation
Elevated Legs Pose:
This posture can be performed in almost any location; if you’re outdoors, you can even lie down and position your legs against a tree. “It helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, it reverses blood flow from the lower extremities back up towards the core, and it helps realign the spine and alleviate tension in the lower back,” says Covey. If fully extending your legs presents a challenge, Covey suggests a fantastic modification is to let them rest on a chair, so that the calves touch the seat of the chair, rather than extending all the way up.
Boozer refers to this pose as a “blissful surrender.” It’s also known as corpse pose; which means, it’s essentially done by lying down. You can place a roller underneath your knees or a pillow beneath your neck for additional support. “For expecting practitioners, it’s best to lie on the side instead, honoring the unique requirements of their bodies,” says Boozer.
Supine Butterfly Pose:
This pose is comparable to the corpse pose, except instead of stretching your legs straight out, you fold them into a diamond shape. “Embracing the diamond shape with the legs, like the butterfly stretch, is an excellent variation for further opening in the pelvis and inner thighs,” says Covey.
Mindful Breathing and Techniques for Meditation
Breathwork practiced during restorative yoga is crucial for reaping its benefits and aiding in the relaxation of the nervous system. “Allow your breath to become your loyal guide, gently leading you into the present moment,” says Boozer. “Observe the sensations of your breath, being aware of its depth, rhythm, and any areas of constriction in your body. Through this heightened awareness, you can foster a profound connection between your body and mind, inviting a sense of inner peace and serenity.”
You don’t necessarily have to adhere to a specific breathing pattern, but rather, ensure that you are deliberately breathing by relaxing the mind, as well as any tension in the upper body, such as in the forehead, jaw, or neck.
An uncomplicated meditation to try is the technique of body scanning. Consciously relax and release each part of the body starting from the toes and gradually moving up to the head.
Establishing a Restorative Yoga Routine
As with any yoga practice, it’s important to approach your approach with compassion, patience, and tenderness, as, according to Boozer, restorative yoga can “reveal suppressed emotions and feelings.” You can “embrace this gentle self-observation, allowing whatever emerges to be acknowledged and accepted with kindness,” she says.
Restful Yoga Classes
Restful yoga sessions are available at the majority of studios, and Boozer suggests starting with a frequency of two to three times per week. “As you become more in tune with your needs, attentively listen to the signals from your body and mind, and adjust the regularity and duration of your practice accordingly,” she advises.
If you prefer a slow and gentle start, you can try holding a savasana/corpse pose at the conclusion of your usual yoga session. Set a timer, if it puts you at ease, beginning with three to five minutes. Concentrate on your breath, experiment with the body scan technique, and strive to remain fully present with yourself while releasing any sources of tension.
Relaxing Yoga as a Form of Meditation
Restorative yoga offers an excellent opportunity to engage in meditation without the sensation of explicitly meditating. Many proponents of this practice appreciate the fact that it allows you to lie down and provides the comfort of a cozy blanket and leg support from blocks.
If you have an interest in yoga, there are many different types and variations you can explore until you discover the one that suits you best. Numerous yoga professionals incorporate a blend of restorative yoga and physical yoga into their regular routines.
The key is to listen to your body and cultivate patience. “The benefits accumulate gradually over time as long as the practice remains consistent,” Covey explains. And remember, any form of yoga is preferable to no yoga at all for the well-being of your body. If you have recently experienced an injury or have concerns about whether restorative yoga is suitable for you, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider to determine if this practice could be beneficial before commencing.