What Is Restorative Yoga?

Yoga is something that has been practised for thousands of years. It is used as a popular method of exercise all over the world. The practice of yoga is known to be beneficial in promoting health and wellness.

Yoga is practiced for numerous reasons. Some practice yoga as a method of exercise, some use it as a way to practice mindfulness, others use it as a way of promoting relaxation. There are so many different types of yoga styles available and each offers unique benefits.

Restorative yoga stands to be one of the most popular styles of yoga. It’s considered the go-to method for promoting balance and stillness in the body. To help enlighten your understanding of restorative yoga and what it actually is, this post will explore the purpose and benefits and purpose of the practice.

What Is Restorative Yoga

The Purpose Of Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga can be characterized as a style of yoga that helps to promote a state of mental, physical, and emotional relaxation. It’s a light-paced yoga that can be practiced by anyone looking to achieve a state of relaxation. Restorative yoga is typically a lower energy practice.

The practice of restorative yoga mainly consists of slow movements that include light breathwork and maintaining a focus on the stillness of the body. This practice also consists of focusing on deep breathing as a method of achieving relaxation.

Restorative yoga is a yoga style that is centered around healing the body and restoring the body’s natural balance. It works to slow the body down and open it up through passive stretching.

The purpose of the practice is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the body that promotes restoration and rest to help to rebalance bodily functions.

The Benefits Of Restorative Yoga

The benefits of restorative yoga are largely synonymous with other styles of yoga. The benefits of practicing restorative yoga help to:

Reduce Stress And Anxiety

Restorative yoga is a great exercise for helping to reduce stress and relieve anxiety. By getting into a relaxed state and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, your body and mind can reach a state of complete relaxation. In doing so, the result is a lowered level of cortisol which is characterized as the stress hormone.

Restorative yoga is a great yoga style to practice if you’re experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety.

Balance Internal Systems

Restorative yoga works to restore and rebalance the body’s internal functions. By practicing deep breathing and promoting a state of deep relaxation, restorative yoga can shift your body from a response of flight-or-fright which can be brought about by stress or anxiety, and moves it to a more balanced state which promotes the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system which creates a relaxed response in the body.

Soothing the nervous system enables you to think more clearly and reduce levels of stress.

Reduce Chronic Pain

The poses involved in restorative yoga consist of holding simple poses for longer periods with the support of equipment to take all of the stress off of the body.

These poses are designed to enable your body to effortlessly hold a pose to promote complete relaxation and to take any strain on your muscles. This is a great way of relieving chronic pain associated with back pain or headaches.

Restorative Yoga Poses

Some of the most effective restorative poses include:

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is a popular restorative pose and is one of the most common resting poses to practice. To get into a child’s pose you sit back on your heels with your knees mat distance apart. Then bend your torso forward with your stomach resting gently between your thighs and your head laid down on your mat. You can either have your arms stretched out in front of you or down by your sides.

To increase the level of comfort and get into a more relaxed state, you can always place a blanket or cushion between your thighs and calves for extra support. This is a great pose for helping to reduce fatigue and stress as it works to gently stretch out the spine. This is also a great pose for relieving back and neck pain.

Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Viparita Karani

The legs up the wall pose are one of the easiest and most effective restorative poses. To come into this pose, sit with your right side against the wall. As you begin to lay down, swing your legs against the wall. Adjust your positioning to get your bum as close to the wall as is comfortable.

Bring your arms to rest either at your sides or on your torso. For extra support, before the pose, place a cushion or blanket beneath where your back is going to rest to support your back. You can also place a blanket beneath your neck for extra neck support.

This is a great pose for anyone looking to relieve stress from aching feet and legs or to gently stretch out the back, neck, and hamstrings.

Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

The fish pose is a great pose to help relieve tension in the neck and shoulders. This is a great exercise to do after a long day of sitting in the same position as it works to open the chest and elongate the spine. To get into a fish pose, start in a seated position either with your legs crossed or extended out in front of you.

Lie down and rest your shoulder blades on the mat and place your head on the mat. You can rest your arms either at your sides or on or stretched above your head. For a supported fish pose, place a cushion or blanket beneath your back for extra support and you can also place one beneath your head to support your head and neck.

How Restorative Yoga Differs From Other Yoga Styles

Unlike other yoga styles such as Yin, Vinyasa, and Bikram, restorative yoga focuses more on breathwork and holding longer poses (asanas) and is less of an energetic or aerobic practice. With restorative yoga, you can expect to hold a pose for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes.

The purpose is less about physical movement and more about supporting the body for passive healing. To support the body in achieving the desired state, restorative yoga incorporates a helping hand from equipment such as yoga blocks and blankets. The equipment used aims to help you stay in passive poses for longer offering support and stability and taking the strain off of the body causing it to relax without exerting the muscles.

Allowing your body to fully sink into a pose in this way without putting any strain on your body is a great way to not only relax the muscles but to help you to completely focus on your breathing.

Takeaway

So it’s that restorative yoga stands to be an effective practice that helps to restore balance to the body. Restorative yoga offers unique benefits and is a great alternative therapy for reducing stress, anxiety, and muscle tension. It stands to be a style of yoga that is centered less around exercise and more about promoting stillness and relieving stress.

It’s popularity as a yoga style comes as a result of the benefits it promotes as well as its simplicity which makes it available to be practiced by a wider group of people.

Laura Simmons
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