Restorative yoga is a completely different kind of yoga practice, and it is likely not at all what many people would imagine when they hear the word “yoga”. Restorative yoga does not involve stretching or movement (other than breathing and transitioning between postures). It is practiced entirely on the floor, using a variety of props, in order to provide maximum comfort and support. It is appropriate for almost anyone, regardless of age, physical condition or injury, or previous yoga experience (or lack thereof). Read on to learn more about the amazing benefits of this kind of yoga practice…
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga is healing and balancing in so many ways…many people who practice this kind of yoga find themselves in a very “blissed out” state at the end of a practice. The following are just some of the incredible benefits:
- Boosts the immune system
- Deeply relaxes the body
- Quiets the mind
- Downregulates and soothes the nervous system
- Increases flexibility
- Improves capacity for healing
- Restores balance to body, mind, & spirit
- Encourages mindfulness
- Cultivates self-awareness
- Enhances breathing capacity
These are just a few of the many benefits; the great thing is the benefits are not just physical, as they are also experienced at the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.
How to Practice Restorative Yoga
Due to the fact that props are needed to best practice restorative yoga, this kind of practice is best done in a studio setting or in another setting where a variety of props are available, and with an instructor who is knowledgeable about this type of practice and is able to safely guide you through the poses and their transitions, as well as appropriate prop set-up. A good instructor will also ensure you are comfortable and will support you in finding the most comfortable position in each posture.
Other benefits that come with practicing in a studio with an instructor are that you are able to more fully relax and release, as you are able to allow the instructor to completely guide you, and you are not required to think too much during the practice about where you are going next, how to best position the props, or how to best position your body. Also, being out of your home usually facilitates greater relaxation, as you are free from many of the distractions and demands that come with being in your own home.
What to Expect
For this type of yoga practice, expect to be on the floor the entire time and to have several props in your area. You will still want to bring a mat to class, as you always would. Do not expect to be doing a lot of movement or “stretching”, as this is not that type of practice. Your instructor will still place emphasis on breathing, but not the “ujjayi” breath that is practiced in a Vinyasa class. Many instructors also play instrumental and soothing music for the duration of a class, and may even enhance this with some carefully selected readings to go along with a theme they have chosen. This type of class is also very suitable for an instructor to offer some brief and gentle massage throughout the practice and may even include essential oils to enhance the overall experience.
A good restorative class with the right instructor should leave you feeling deeply relaxed at the end, increasing your overall sense of health and well-being.
It is important to keep in mind that this type of practice may lead to emotional releases, which is very healing in the long run, but could cause certain difficult or traumatic emotions to surface; this is unpredictable, but do not be surprised if this were to happen. As long as you are comfortable with your instructor, this should not be something that keeps you from the practice. It is also worth keeping in mind that there is the potential for this to happen within any yoga class and it isn’t something that should be feared or prepared for. Being open and allowing things to unfold naturally in any type of yoga class is always the best way to get the most out of it.
And of course, the best way to know if restorative yoga is for you is to try it for yourself!
“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift ourselves with people, places, things, events, & opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health – body, mind, & spirit.” -Laurie Buchanan
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