I’ve been practicing Restorative Yoga for over 10 years. At times it’s been a life saver for me. When I’ve been sick, it’s what gets me through the day. When I’m crazy busy, it’s what keeps me sane. I’m a better person when I practice restorative yoga & I need it in my life to stay that way. You need restorative yoga in your life too!
My yoga practice varies from day to day. Some days my practice will be more vigorous than others but 20 minutes a day is enough on most days. I find it’s the consistency of a daily practice that is more important than how long I practice. Frequently a restorative yoga practice is all that I want or need.
I recommend a restorative yoga practice to all of my clients & here are 5 reasons why I do that.
1- Restorative yoga is a form of deep relaxation.
Let’s face it!
If you’re like many of us, you go around tired, overwhelmed & cranky. What you need is some downtime. While binge watching the latest show on Netflix sounds fun, your body needs a different form of relaxation. To function well, your body needs to have deep relaxation. With this type of relaxation you’ll tune out the world & pay attention to your own body’s needs.
When I take a client through a restorative yoga practice, I put them in a very comfortable yoga posture. The point is to relax their body & you can’t relax if you’re not comfortable. When I get my clients completely comfortable, then a magical thing happens. At first, if they aren’t used to giving themselves time to truly relax, then they resist it. Their mind will be very active & they’ll have a hard time being still. After awhile, then a shift begins to happen. They begin to enjoy this comfortable state of being. They relax into it & before they know it, the world has melted away. They might even relax so much that they fall asleep. That’s ok too! They’ll wake up refreshed if that happens.
After a restorative yoga practice, my clients are calmer and more awake. They can finish their days with ease & enjoy what needs to be done.
2 – Restorative Yoga reduces stress & anxiety.
You can be anxious or you can be relaxed but you can’t be both at the same time. So, which do you choose? I’ll choose relaxed every single time. Since you can’t be anxious & relaxed at the same time, then you can reduce your anxiety by promoting relaxation in your body.
Restorative yoga is one of the best ways to do this. Just imagine putting yourself in a comfortable position & then supporting your body with blankets or pillows so that there is very little stress in your body. It’s not trying to hold itself up. Your body isn’t trying to do anything. Instead, you’re living in the present moment & focusing on your breath. You let your breath bring even more relaxation into your body. With each breath you release a little more anxiety until you find yourself in a relaxed state of mind & body.
Eventually, you reach a deep state of relaxation & you can’t even imagine that stress or anxiety that existed before this restorative yoga practice.
Yes, this can be you with just a little practice.
3 – It promotes healing in your body.
Think of a time when your were injured or sick and you felt stressed. How fast did you heal? My guess is that it took longer for your to recover because life’s stresses were stopping your body from healing. In order to heal, your body needs rest. It’s hard to rest when you aren’t relaxed. So, when you take the time to practice restorative yoga, you give yourself time to reach that deeply relaxed state where your body can rest & recover faster. You’ll be less stressed & that will allow your body to heal.
4 – You’ll sleep better!
Does this sound familiar?
You’re exhausted. It’s been a really long day. You just want a good night of sleep. So, you go to bed & immediately your mind starts racing as you go over all of the things that you didn’t get done yet. Your body might even tingle or twitch a bit.
Yes, this is the wired but tired that you hear about.
In order to get a good night of sleep, you have to rest during the day. It sounds backwards I know, but a body that doesn’t get to rest won’t be able to easily fall asleep.
The solution – take time to rest during the day. Even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes. Restorative yoga is a perfect way to spend that 5 -10 minutes. Put yourself in a super comfortable position. Support your body with blankets and / or pillows. Ignore your phone & computer. Cover your eyes. Focus on your breath. That’s it. Do this in the evening & you’ll be signaling to your body that it’s time to rest & eventually sleep.
5 – Restorative yoga activates your Parasympathetic Nervous System.
There’s a bit of science behind this yoga practice.
Many of us spend our days under a lot of stress. By itself stress is not a bad thing. When we are stressed, the ‘fight or flight’ instinct is activated. This instinct is part of what’s called the Sympathetic Nervous System. This is the system that protects us in times of danger by giving us extra energy to cope with the danger or stress. In our current society, this fight or flight instinct is activated very often. As we drive in heavy traffic, as we work to meet deadlines, as we get to all of the many activities that we feel we must do, our body is in a constant state of fight or flight.
Our bodies feel this stress as it builds throughout the day. Over time all of this extra stress leads to a decreased ability to heal and recover. Our bodies were not designed to live in this constant state of fight or flight.
Ideally, when we set off the sympathetic nervous system, we would deal with the stress or danger and then we would be able to rest or recover. This period of rest occurs when our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is turned on. Our bodies sense that the danger has passed and it’s time to recover. When we give our bodies this chance to rest, then we are able to deal with the next stress or danger as it happens. Problems occur when we stay in that activated sympathetic nervous system. Our bodies become less able to deal with stress as they don’t get the chance to recover.
This is where practicing restorative yoga helps me. When I’m practicing Restorative Yoga, I activate my Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). When we go into the deep state of relaxation that Restorative Yoga invites, we activate the PNS. My body takes the chance to come off of the ‘stress high’ that I live on so often. My body gets the chance to regenerate. This is really what makes Restorative Yoga so special.
5, 10 or 20 minutes a day. It’s not so much time out of my day, but I get so much from that time. Try giving yourself the gift of 20 minutes of restorative yoga and see what it does for you.
If you’re not sure if you really need to take a break during the day (I’m sure that you really do!), then you can pause & take an Awareness Break. When you stop to listen to your body, it will tell you when you need that break
Do you need help learning how to reach this deep state of relaxation? Let’s chat! I can design a routine that will help you learn to relax more. We’ll use what you already have for props & you’ll feel how much a practice of daily rest can help you to feel better.
Becky is a Yoga Therapist & has been teaching yoga since 2006. She loves to match people with a yoga practice that helps them to feel better every day & believes that there is a yoga practice for everyone. Click here to sign up for her mailing list & get all of the important news & tips first!