Everyday we are subject to constant stimulation. Social media, billboards, construction, crying infants, text messages and emails. Our central nervous system is on alert all day long. This causes the body to remain in the "fight or flight" state. This is not healthy. It creates anxiety, stress, muscle tension, high blood pressure and weakens your immune system. In order to counteract this stress we must practice relaxation. This is where Restorative Yoga comes into play.
Sessions usually entail 5-7 poses that are held anywhere from five to twenty minutes. Blocks, bolsters, blankets and sand bags are used to support the body for the duration of these poses. Props along with breath work, help ground the body. When the body is grounded it feels safe, secure and supported. This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which tells the body to relax and give out a big sigh.
Breathing techniques are practiced during the class. For the majority of the day we breathe short and shallow breaths through our chest. This tells the body there is unrest, which creates tension and anxiety. By learning how to breathe effectively we can reverse these effects and keep the nervous systems stable.
Restorative Yoga is not a physically demanding practice. Instead it is more of a challenge for the mind. We have "monkey brain". Our thoughts swing from one thought to another very rapidly all day long. We are constantly rehashing past events, conversations while simultaneously planning and playing out events that haven't yet happened. Every thought we think creates a physiological and biological response in the body. Monkey mind signals unrest to the nervous system. Negative self talk and negative thoughts become embedded in our cell tissue creating tension and can lead to disease and illness.
Restorative Yoga is beneficial to everyone! No prior yoga experience is necessary.
Tips for Restorative Yoga
Keep your eyes closed.
This decreases light stimulation. Eye pillows are the bomb diggity.
In each pose bring your attention to the feeling and sensation of each body part. Feel the parts of the body that move with the inhales and exhales. Elongate the breath. With every exhale feel for softening some part of you body. Start from the crown of your head and move down to your toes. Feel everything that is touching the earth. If you feel anxious or unsettled, set the palms of your hands on the floor and feel the earth underneath you.
Listen to your body. It is smarter than you.
Poses are held for long periods of time. Change positions if you don't feel comfortable and there are always alternative poses to the ones being offered.
Bring a sweatshirt, socks and blankets. The body has a hard time relaxing when it is cold.
Use as many props as possible.
Props help us get grounded faster and gives the body a connection to something. When we feel a connection, the nervous system will stabilize because it starts to feel safe and secure.