Restorative Yoga – The Science Behind the Stillness

You lie there not doing anything, just being—something most of us feel too guilty or strung out to do on our own. “- Unknown

We live in a ‘do’ and ‘go’ world, where we’re always connected, moving, and competing.  Many of us judge ourselves by a list of accomplishments and/or returns.  It’s hard to disconnect or stop, both by our own expectations and that of those around us.

I’m no less guilty of this than you.  I’ve to do lists on my fridge, reminders on my phone, feelings of guilt that I went to bed without completing X, and always trying to squeeze in Y in those downtime moments between my day job and teaching. And of course, the guilt – the errands not run, the laundry not started, and the dust on my bookshelves.

But enough on what we all know exists in our lives… let’s talk restorative yoga.

What is it:

·  Restorative yoga is a passive, gentle, yet powerful slow-paced practice consisting of seated and supine (laying down) poses typically held for several minutes.

·  This practice is about slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. During the long holds of restorative yoga your muscles are allowed to relax deeply. Props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks, rather than your muscles, are used to support your body.

·  Moving slowly into and holding these opening postures alongside intentional breath work allows you to calm and center the mind and nervous system while accessing deep opening and release within the body.

Benefits:

·  Restorative yoga is documented to boost the immune system and accelerate the body’s natural healing process.  It’s considered an ideal balance to hectic and stressful modern lifestyles.

·  The intention is to relax as far as possible into the postures, using as little physical effort as possible. The mind focuses on the breath to cultivate mindfulness and release tension from the body.

·  The practice by nature encourages you to deactivate your sympathetic nervous system while activating your parasympathetic nervous system. This slows the heart rate, regulates the blood pressure and relaxes the body.  By activating the relaxation response, the nervous system is balanced which creates an optimal energy flow to the organs and brain.  The immune function is lifted and the digestion process is enhanced, setting the whole body up for deep healing, growth and repair.

· The passive quality of this practice and environment draws your attention inward and away from external stimuli/situations. This redirection allows you to open yourself to self-exploration and contemplation as the mind and spirit are in a quiet state.

Other random notes on restorative yoga:

· You do not need to be flexible.  All postures are supported to meet you where you are at that day and moment in your practice.

· You do not need to have an active yoga practice, background or knowledge.  Do you know how to breathe?  Good – you qualify!

· This is unlike any other yoga class.

· Falling asleep, snoring, farting, emotional breakthroughs, tears, relaxation, release of tension, stress relief, yoga euphoria, yoga bliss– may all happen – and space is held for whatever else surfaces during this practice.  No feelings are invalid.

Interested? Curious?  Want to give it a go?  Renkon Yoga offers both classes and special events featuring restorative yoga.

My weekly class offerings (regular class pricing)

· Wednesday, 5:15 – 6:30pm

· Thursday, 7:00-8:15pm

· Friday, 4:30 – 5:45pm

July – Chill out: A restorative yoga special practice (event pricing, refer to Renkon Yoga’s website for pricing and signup)

· Saturday, July 20 4:00-6:00pm

· Sunday, July 21 12:00-2:00pm

It took me many years to realize that the practice of yoga has to do with letting go of control much more than gaining it” – Judith Hanson Lasater

References:

Restore and Rebalance –Judith Hanson Lasater PdD, PT

Restorative Yoga for Life – Gail Boorstein Grossman, E-RYT500, CYKT

Restorative Yoga – Sue Flamm

The Healing Self – Deepak Chopra MD and Rudolph E Tanzi PhD