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Restorative Yoga Purpose
Restorative Yoga can have multiple mental, physical, and emotional benefits. When I first began practicing yoga, I was unaware of restorative yoga was. I had never attended a restorative yoga class and once I heard about it, I was intrigued enough to want to learn more.
Restorative Yoga is all about loving your body through deep and passive stretching. It is still and slow and mindful. One of the best benefits of restorative yoga is the impact on your central nervous system. We rip and run almost all day long and as a result, our nervous system stays in a state of flight or flight. Most of us don’t set aside the time needed to allow our body to fully rest and recoup.
Personally, I have a very love/hate relationship with rest. I feel like I never get enough rest (about 4-5 hours of sleep every night) but I often turn away from additional opportunities to rest using the excuse that by resting I would be taking away from another responsibility like family time, work, my business, chores, etc. But there needs to be a balance and restorative yoga can help you achieve that balance.
Restorative Yoga Poses
When practicing restorative yoga, you hold poses a lot longer than other types of yoga. You may find yourself in a restorative pose from anywhere between 3 minutes to 15 minutes. You also (can) use a variety of props. (Props can include blocks, a bolster, a blanket, a strap, an eye pillow, and more.) We covered some basic poses in my yoga teacher training class today and they each served a different purpose and provided a specific benefit.
I particularly enjoyed the dear pose where we sat upright and put one foot touching the knee of the other leg. We then swung that leg back behind us. With a yoga bolster directly in front of us, we leaned forward onto the bolster turning our head to either side. This pose offered such an awesome lower back stretch that I didn’t even want to come out of the pose to switch sides.
While restorative yoga may sound like “nap time”, it can actually be challenging. Some people, like myself, struggle with stilling the mind. (This is also something that I discuss in my meditation posts.) It can be difficult to quiet your thoughts and may actually cause anxiety in those who can’t. For anyone in a similar situation, our instructor recommended focusing on your breathing even a little bit more. Also cooling down on the way to practice by driving in silence, for example, may help.
After the Restorative Yoga Class
After your restorative yoga class is over, you may feel a bit disoriented. It might take a moment for you to ground yourself before you get up and start moving again. Some feel the effects immediately. Some may not feel any immediate effects but you may find that you sleep like a baby when you finally get a chance to lay down for the evening.
Either way, it’s an experience that I recommend everyone try at least once. After I finish a restorative yoga class, I feel so comfortable in my own skin. If you are a part of a yoga studio, they probably offer a restorative class on their calendar. If you don’t practice at a studio, there are a multitude of YouTube videos available to offer ideas and demonstrate poses for you.
Available Restorative Yoga Props