Restorative Yoga is best described as “active relaxation.” This type of yoga is the most effective in calming and relaxing the body which in turn, relaxes and settles the mind. So often our bodies operate from the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for keeping us alert as well as preparing for incoming stressors. This is that “fight, flight, or freeze” mode the we have all experienced. Our bodies can handle being in this mode, however it is not equipped to be here ALL the time. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for our rest, rejuvenation, and relaxation. It is beneficial to tap into this system more than we do.
In restorative yoga, poses are held longer with the support of props. All poses are on the ground and the body is fully supported in order to sink into the pose. Because the body is fully supported, messages are sent to the brain to release tension and relax. The longer the poses are held, the more tension is released, and then the mind and body can relax.
Oftentimes in restorative yoga, people will start to learn more about their body, such as where they hold tension or where pain is originating from. As a result of this practice, tension is released in those areas in our day to day lives.
The practice is meditative in nature complemented with rhythmic breath work to calm the fluctuations of the mind.
Restorative yoga can bring up emotions that have been neglected or are lingering in the body. This type of yoga teaches us to acknowledge these emotions without doing anything as they will be released. This is an important lesson that will follow off the mat.
Restorative yoga compliments a busy, stressful lifestyle and is generally accessible for all levels and types of bodies. This yoga has proven to be the most successful in treating anxiety, depression, and trauma from a somatic perspective.
Visit my Youtube Channel for the complete collection.
Listen to “Changing the Face of Yoga” podcast for Katie’s interview on restorative yoga as a complement to mental health.
Restorative Yoga Poses of the Week – Tutorial on setting up each pose