What is restorative yoga?

what is restorative yoga?

A question that is frequently asked as well as frequently misunderstood.  Many refer to Restorative yoga as ‘very similar to Yin Yoga’.  The reality is that Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga are very different forms of yoga with vastly different felt experiences.

Restorative yoga is not asking you to ‘do or achieve’ instead the aim is to help your body and mind slow down so that you can receive nourishment at the deepest level. Moving slowly through the poses allows you to explore your mind and body at a steady and more natural pace. The slower pace and the deep breathing activate the calm side of your nervous system. This calming effect sets a deeply relaxing tone for the class that comforts your mind and body on a cellular level.

The practice of Restorative yoga is not about collapsing over a bolster or a blanket, instead it is asking that your mind stay very present to what you are feeling and sensing within. It could just as easily be called “mindful yoga” due to the expanded awareness of self and body that comes through the practice. You are being asked to maintain awareness of the physical sensations, the thoughts or emotions that arise, as well as sounds in the environment.

Through this style of practice, you will move into a greater awareness of yourself on all levels.  You will become more aware of felt sensations and more aware of your bodies felt sensation, you begin to naturally cultivate greater self-care.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga:

  • Because restorative yoga offers long held, supported postures you create the conditions in which you can cultivate the skill of conscious relaxation.  Over time you begin to release habitual tension which is held in the body and the mind.  The practice offers you the chance to work out ‘how to let go of unnecessary tension, how to relax the mind, how to do less’.

  • Most often the effort involved in restorative yoga is the willingness to look at how and where you are holding tension, to rest your body to the ground, to allow your breath to move with greater ease.  You get the chance to discover what your habits are around how you hold your body, move your body, how your mental/emotional habits play out in your physical body.  Once you discover your habits you can do something about changing them.

  • Through the practice of grounding, through the awareness of yielding you call the breath.  The practice of yielding (giving your weight to the earth) precedes full respiration, so without yielding you will not have full respiration.  Through more balanced and full respiration, you calm and soothe your nervous system, you feel safe, you feel supported, you feel connected.

  • Through these practices of Restorative Yoga, you sleep more fully, your digestive system functions more optimally, your organs, glands and systems function more optimally.  By resting fully, you activate the body’s natural relaxation response and move into self-healing and self-regulating.

  • Restorative yoga offers you the gift of time, a chance to slow down and do less, a chance to welcome the parts of you that have been forgotten along the way to come back into wholeness. Through these practices you begin to befriend yourself, to do less rather than more, to be more kind to yourself on all levels, you begin to trust yourself wholeheartedly and become your own best guru.

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