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Restorative Yoga -The Yoga Of Relaxation

Fitness, Stress, Yoga

Restorative Yoga -The Yoga Of Relaxation

Do you remember the last time you were truly relaxed? Or is your condition even worse, that you can not even recall what being laid back felt like? Are you so busy all the time that you have forgotten to acknowledge the beauty of things around? Well, if your whispers and nods are affirmative, I guess its high time you took up a Restorative Yoga session, and nestled into that comfort once again.

Entering the scene like a yummy dessert on the Yoga menu, Restorative Yoga will re-calibrate your mind and muscles, leaving you in a state of complete ease.

What is Restorative Yoga?

Derived essentially from Savasana or the corpse pose and influenced by the Iyengar Yoga technique, this relaxation yoga style makes use of supportive props allowing you to open your body through passive stretching.

What makes it so unique and easy?

I don’t know who’d be asking such a question because isn’t just lying somewhere or crashing on bed the easiest thing one can do??
Lie down. And breathe. Congrats! You did it !!

Not just the ease of doing, this yoga differentiates itself from other forms because of the use of props like cushions, belts, bolsters, sand bags, blankets, chair, wall, blocks and eye bags etc.

Why Restorative Yoga?

When our lives are paced faster than the light, it is our nervous system that takes all the beating and we end up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. In these testing times, when our every moment is pre-ordained for tasks of ‘mammoth’ importance, I feel there’s a dire need to schedule even relaxation in our lives. And we all know (I hope so), what immeasurable bliss can a little moment of relaxation stolen from that busy diary, fetch to our system.

In case, you are wondering if dedicating a few seconds to breathing and only breathing or investing precious time in a relaxing yoga class is justified, I’ll first talk about the benefits you can harbor.

Health Benefits

Restorative Yoga is known to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System of the body. So, when you relax in the class, your distressed nerves are soothed resulting in a complete mind-body rejuvenation.

The well supported poses will offer you the opportunity to just linger quietly for a few moments and savor the simple sweetness of life.

After even a single session you’ll feel completely energized and relaxed. But with constant practice, you’ll be taking home a lot more than that. The benefits include:

  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Less vulnerable to stress-related illnesses
  • Achievement of optimal health and improved metabolism[1]
  • Still and focused mind
  • Improved capacity to heal and balance life
  • Soothed out nervous system
  • Increased sense of compassion and understanding towards self and others
  • Better management of mood (stress, anger, frustration, etc.)
  • Alleviation of stress related mental disorders
  • Reduction in general fatigue[2]
  • Greater energy levels and freshness
  • Balanced blood pressure
  • Relief from backache and muscle cramps

A Typical class

When you first enter a Restorative Class, you’ll be welcomed by an ambiance that exudes zen from every edge and corner. The class size will be much smaller than Bikram Yoga or any other form of yoga, perhaps 4-12 students which allows the teacher to get to know every student individually, and thus, tailor the asanas or poses and options for each.

The class, like every other class, begins with a little stretching to warm the muscles and create space in the body to prepare it for relaxation. Gradually, you’ll be instructed into different poses that will gently stretch your muscles relieving you from stress. If you find difficulty or experience stiffness, the teacher will introduce you to various props so your body can open up better without any exertion. All you need to do is surrender yourself to the comfort.

You must take your time to get comfortable on props and actively make suggestions for any necessary adjustments to make sure the props are of right size. Keep in mind, that when it comes to restorative, only a thin veil separates heaven from hell. A minor adjustment to a blanket or little shift in the body’s position can transform a moment of exasperated agony into pure rapture. So, always let your inner wisdom guide you.

Common Poses

The poses will usually be back bends and forward bends that’ll relax back and pelvic muscles. Additionally, there will be poses that look like threading a needle, which will gently twist the column both left and right, so you move your spine in all directions. The poses are held in any position for a duration ranging from a few minutes to even 15 minutes long depending upon the level of stress and stiffness.

Beginners might find the class challenging. You might be able to stop fidgeting and rest quietly but we know our rambling minds don’t give in to stillness that easily. Not to worry, with time and practice, you’ll easily be able to walk into a place of deep contentment. And this is what this Yoga is all about. Your mind reflecting the pose and settling into the peace within.

Legs against Wall, Child’s Pose, Reclining Bound Angle are few of the common poses of any Restorative Yoga class.

The Basics

Who should do it: Everyone! Especially those in high stress jobs, people who experience chronic headaches and migraine (I can state myself as a success story here; frequency of migraine has reduced drastically) and those suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as it’ll help them focus their thoughts better and for a prolonged time.

Who should not do it: Can’t think of anyone though. But, I’d say casual practitioners because you might be going in there for chilling out but rest are attending the session to regain their strength for braving everyday struggles.

What to wear: Anything comfortable and something that doesn’t make you conscious of your appearance. Obviously, if you are not confident in your attire, the purpose of the class would be defeated, because, rather than emptying your mind, you’ll stuff it more with worries of what others are thinking of you.

Diet Plan: Ideally, a balanced diet because it’ll balance your life internally, but, no hard and fast rules here. You can eat whatever you wish (Man! I so love this yoga).

Finally, its not necessary that you register for a class and then practice it. The only difference between the actual class and home practice is the maintenance of a proper schedule. So, if you are good at keeping schedules, you can practice it within the comfort of your home. However, you’ll surely need some assistance in shifting positions of your body and the props.

Now, don’t wait to recharge your batteries. Go raid your linen closet and give your body every opportunity to thank you with profound sighs of relief.

Also Read:

1. How to Understand Your Body’s Messages Part 4 (of 6): The Nervous System

2. 7 Symptoms of Stress You May Have Missed

3. Reasons You Should Invest in Yoga for Employees

[1] Cohen BE, Chang AA, Grady D, Kanaya AM. Restorative yoga in adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, controlled pilot trial. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2008 Sep;6(3):223-9. doi: 10.1089/met.2008.0016. PMID: 18710330. ^Back to Top^

[2] Danhauer SC, et al. Restorative yoga for women with breast cancer: findings from a randomized pilot study. Psychooncology. 2009 Apr;18(4):360-8. doi: 10.1002/pon.1503. PMID 19242916. ^Back to Top^

Last Updated: May 21, 2014

Next Scheduled Update: Jul 21, 2014

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