The more I practice yoga, in all its different styles, traditions and practices the more I come to realise how important a balanced approach is. As much as I love a dynamic flow class to move my body and find stability, strength, grounding and a steadiness of mind, I also enjoy breathing techniques restorative deep relaxation and meditation so I can truly reap the benefits of yoga. I now spend half of my week flowing in dynamic practice with the breath and a couple of times a week finding stillness and a sense of release in a more restorative meditative practice.
A restorative yoga practice has encouraged me to nurture my mind and body finding a sense of calm and deep release. It helps the student to find deep relaxation and provides space to regenerate. Postures are held supported by props for as long as 5-20 minutes giving time to settle and let go. Restorative yoga is the perfect antidote to modern life. If you need to nurture yourself, you feel anxious, stressed, depressed, fatigued or want to balance your dynamic yoga practice with some deep relaxation then Restorative Yoga can help. Here are 5 reasons to practice:
1. Slowing Down Is Important
The act of slowing down or being still allows us to shift from a frenetic active state which can leave us stressed and depleted to a quieter calmer state. Restorative yoga encourages moving slowly, creating stillness in the body and connecting to the breath. This is the gateway to a heightened sense of awareness and allows the student to explore the body/mind connection at a steadier pace. The perfect antidote to stress.
2. Relieves muscle tension, joint pain and fatigue
Through supporting the body with the use of props we are able to come into deep rest. Rest is different from sleep. Sleep includes periods of dreaming, which increases muscle tension as well as other physiological signs of muscle tension. A restorative yoga pose harnesses a state in which there is no movement, no effort, and the brain can become less busy. The perfect environment to release muscle tension, joint pain and fatigue.
3. It Soothes the nervous system
By slowing down and connecting to the breath we can trigger the Parasympathetic nervous system also known as the rest and digest part of our nervous system. Modern life and stress can lead to us living in a heightened state of adrenaline overload and a release of the stress hormone, Cortisol. Cortisol in elevated levels is associated with high blood pressure and heart disease. When we are stressed we tend to breath shallowly and take short exhales placing us in fight or flight mode. Restorative yoga and deep breathing antidotes fight or flight mode and slows everything down to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. This also encourages better quality of sleep and a more balanced outlook on life.
4. It Encourages Mindfullness
Mindfullness is a process of paying attention with awareness, in the present moment, free of judgement. The slow pace and stillness of a restorative yoga practice leaves space for us to experience sensations, thoughts that arise and an awareness of all the senses. This can lead to heightened awareness off the mat as you learn to notice more of your experience of the world. Mindfullness encourages mental wellbeing.
5. Calms the Mind
All of the above experiences that have been examined have the knock on affect of calming the mind. The safe and nurturing nature of this practice allows you to recover fully from the stresses and strain of daily life while soothing and calming the ripples of thoughts that enter the mind.
Jo teaches two Calming the Mind classes at Boco in Surbiton which incorporates restorative yoga, breathing exercises and Mindfullness.