Restorative Yoga for Holiday Stress
As we enter the holiday season and prepare to wrap up 2018, time and energy may feel like something that will have to take a back seat to other life demands. Enter the practice of restorative yoga, adaptable to all ages and needs, and adjustable for any physical limitations.
The main focus of restorative yoga is that by relaxing in poses with the aid of props and by doing simple breath practices without strain or pain, you can achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation. These effects are due in large part to stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that’s responsible for slowing heart rate and breath and increasing blood flow to vital organs, which occurs in supported poses and promotes a relaxation response that reduces the effects of stress on our bodies.
Restorative yoga takes advantage of using props, like blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps so that you are supported in your pose comfortably for an extended period of time. Classes are slow paced and allow an opportunity to create space to get in touch with our natural qualities of compassion and understanding of others and self. And just like an active practice, restorative practice is still a practice! So, while it my not come naturally at first, with time and practice the mind can be trained to focus while the body learns to soften and surrender. This can be a great practice to balance an active yoga schedule, or to give yourself a break when you feel under the weather or pressed for time and energy.
Another key idea is recognizing that a restorative practice is not an isolated practice and all aspects of one’s practice will improve if the practitioner can understand this. For example, consider how you might translate the quality of mind and breath from restorative practice and bring it to the active poses that present more of a challenge? Similarly, how can you bring that element of vibrancy that comes more easily in active poses to your restorative practice?
Below you’ll find listed just some of the benefits of restorative yoga, along with poses to try on your own. You can do one or two restorative postures a day for 10 minutes and experience the benefits for yourself!
1. Restorative yoga relaxes and regenerates both the body and the mind by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
2. Restorative yoga improves flexibility without risk of injury or pain if done with mindfulness, care and respect for the body.
3. Because restorative yoga relaxes the mind, it helps relieve anxiety. It is not the only form of yoga that allows that, but its results are faster compared to other practices.
4. Restorative yoga helps insomnia.
5. Restorative yoga develops patience, humbleness and the ability to focus.
6. Restorative yoga allows you to increase self-awareness and offers opportunities for meditation.
7. Restorative yoga is an accessible practice when you are physically, emotionally or mentally tired.