Restorative Yoga – What and Why

The antidote to stress is relaxation – Judith Lasater

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 are always connected, moving, and many times, competing.  Many of us judge ourselves and others, the day, week, year, etc. by a list of accomplishments and/or returns.  It’s hard to disconnect or stop, both by our own expectations and the expectations of those around us.

What is the cost of all this ‘go’ – to our bodies, minds, and inner self?  In addition to the physical wear, what does this do to our minds, our immune systems, and our breath?

I confess I’m no less guilty of this than you, or you… or you there in the back (yes, I see you!).  I’ve to do lists on my fridge and in my bag, reminders on my phone, feelings of guilt that I went to bed without completing X, and of course, 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 even started, and don’t get me started on 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 and gentle, yet powerful practice consisting of seated and supine (laying down) poses typically held for several minutes.
  • The classes tend to be relaxing and slow paced, with a whole sequence using as few as five or six postures which are held for long periods of time. Props are also used often in order to allow the body to be in the most comfortable, supported position possible.
  • Moving slowly into and holding these opening postures alongside intentional breath work allows the one to calm and center the mind and nervous system while accessing deep opening and release within the body.
  • It was developed to access connective tissues allowing for deepening flexibility and aiding healing while increasing energy flow.

Why should I do it:

  • Restorative yoga is believed to boost the immune system and accelerate the body’s natural healing process.  It is 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 in order to cultivate mindfulness and release tension from the body. 
  • Restorative yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart rate, regulates the blood pressure and relaxes the body.
  • An incredible method to heal the body, it helps to the kick in relaxation response, balancing the nervous system and optimizing energy flow to the organs. It lifts the immune function and enhance the process of digestion. Basically, they set the whole body up for deep healing, growth and repair.

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, moment, in your practice.  
  • You do not need to have an active yoga practice, background or knowledge.  Do you know how to breath? Good – you qualify!
  • This is unlike any other yoga class.
  • Falling asleep, snoring, farting, emotional breakthroughs, tears, relaxation, release of tension, stress relief, yoga stoned feeling – all happen – and space is held for whatever else surfaces during this practice.  No feelings are invalid.

Interested?  Curious? Have nothing else to do but want to give it a go?  Renkon Yoga offers both classes and special events featuring restorative yoga.