Restorative Yoga: Its Magic and 10 Benefits

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Restorative Yoga
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“Slow DOwn, Hold on to the Poses, Feel the Stillness, Take a Deep Breath, Concentrate, and Relax.”

Ever since the importance & pros of yoga have been known by the people, it has flourished supremely all over the world. Yoga became an important kickstart of the day for many. But when the pace at which flexibility, fitness, and relaxation is achieved is fast, it becomes uneasy for the body to adapt.

Relaxing your mind and anatomy is what yoga and meditation do thereby ensuring good health. For a person who might have never practiced yoga ever, the idea of relaxation and restoration would be quite absurd. But don’t be ignorant of the other forms of yoga practices that exist.

From Hatha Yoga and Yin Yoga to Ashtanga Yoga and Restorative Yoga, there are many types out of which people got one of the best forms to support a healthy life, to ease out on their daily physical, mental and emotional relaxation. It is the Restorative Yoga form.

What Is Restorative Yoga Practice?

Definition

Restorative yoga practice is a gentle, static style of yoga practice that involves holding on to passive poses with minimum effort, to attain deep relaxation and release tension from the whole body.

Origin and Idea

Restorative yoga was built and developed upon the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, by one of his students, Judith Lasater in the 1970s in the US to restore means to repair the damage.

As the name suggests, it allows the body to perform its basic function by helping it to heal, relax and restore. It is a bit different from the other forms of yoga because it is meant to melt away the tension built up in your muscles, create space in the body, and take the edge off stress.

Rather than focusing on building strength and shedding sweat, it focuses more on building mental strength, physical relaxation and makes you engage in deep breathing. The idea is to get engaged in key postures and hold poses to allow yourself to get into the state of deep relaxation of the body and mind for a healthy and long life.

Restorative practice helps people who are suffering from injuries, illness, and stress to heal and recover fast, balance their mind and body to ensure a healthy immune system.

Effects on Parasympathetic Nervous System

The two parts of the autonomic system in the body are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). Out of which, the PSNS is a vital part of the body and needs to be taken care of. If not, then it can lead to various bodily dysfunction.

The parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated when the body is in a relaxed static state. Restorative yoga helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system of the body which is why it is also called ‘the rest and the digest part’ of the nervous system. This makes the basic body parts suitable to function at their best.

How to Take a Restorative Yoga Class?

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In typical restorative yoga classes or in-person classes of not more than 6 people, you will likely perform 5-6 key poses and hold on to them. While holding on to these poses you will be focusing on your breathing pattern and allow all the stretch to sink in and melt away the stress.

This is achieved when you get to a slower pace and try to shift your focus to deep breathing during each stretch. You will feel the decompression in each tensed area of your body and thereby foster a connection between your brain, breath, and body.

You may also incorporate some props while practicing restorative yoga such as blocks, towels, pillows, bolsters, mat, folded blankets, and strap bands. These props may help you to attain postures correctly and allow you to focus on various stretches and stress in the muscles for longer periods, slow down your breathing process, and allow you to get calm.

Why Take a Restorative Yoga Class?

Restorative yoga practice has become popular among practitioners who want to attain a relaxation response. Aiding props along with relaxing poses reduce the pain, and help in attaining physical, mental, and emotional relaxation.

It is necessary to take restorative yoga classes because it helps to cure pain, ease pain, support the immune system and nervous system and the pace at which it is performed is itself self-care.

Restorative yoga cultivates the art of conscious relaxation, assists people to become aware of the strain in their parts, and ease them and tackle the things which they ignore in their bodies.

What Are the Benefits of Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga practice differs from traditional yoga as it involves muscle relaxation response rather than muscle contraction. This is why it has plenty of key benefits and the following is the list of those benefits of restorative yoga practice you may find useful for yourself:

  1. Improves flexibility.
  2. Promotes mindfulness.
  3. Ensures good self-care.
  4. Calms the nervous system.
  5. Reduces stress and anxiety.
  6. Improves sleep quality.
  7. Helps with symptoms of depression and enhances the mood.
  8. Reduces chronic pain.
  9. Safe to perform during pregnancy.
  10. Helps in recovering from injury.

6 Different Restorative Yoga Poses

There are various restorative yoga poses that you can perform for longer periods to feel the ease in thews:

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

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Balasana is one of the most important poses as it involves a posture to stretch your various parts. It offers you an opportunity to stop your work, reexamine your posture, reaffix with your breath, and make yourself ready to lean forward to feel the stretch in your spine.

Targets: Resting, gentle stretch on back, hips, thighs, and ankles.

Props Needed: Yoga mat.

Benefits:

  1. This pose helps in easing tension in various anatomical parts.
  2. Relaxes mind.
  3. Helps in releasing fatigue.

If practiced and used wisely, this pose may help you develop a practice where you can listen to your inner voices and do what the anatomy directs you to do.

Child pose may enable you to understand what your framework wants; when does it need to take a rest. It is one of the most simple poses of restorative yoga which can be performed for an extended period without injury.

2. Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani)

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Got no time? Try this to do nothing but relax. It is one of the well-known introductory poses for people who are new to yoga. With the legs going up, gravity takes the action.

While the lower frame is up with a blanket below the hips, the elevation leads to the flow of lymph and other fluids from swollen ankles and stressed knees to the belly region, which rejuvenates the lower region and reproductive parts.

Targets: Hamstrings, lower back, glutes.

Props Needed: Bolster or folded blankets.

Benefits:

  1. Ease headaches and migraines.
  2. Increases blood circulation.
  3. Stretches glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Alleviate low back stiffness and improve digestion.
  5. Improve thyroid function and reduce muscle tension.

This is one of the best poses to perform during morning or bedtime meditation and is a good starter for newbies because not much flexibility is required to do this asana.

3. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

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Are you a 9-5 job person and do you get tired of sitting at your desk all day? Then you must relieve the stress from your eyes and the body by trying the Fish Pose. This is one of the most restful poses of all to ease the tension in your back.

Fish pose allows your spine to extend, ease the tension in your neck and shoulder blades, thereby opening up the chest. Matsyasana is one of the most relaxing asanas that will energize you and will improve your posture by offering a reversal in the rounding of the shoulders caused due to hunching forward by sitting for so long.

Amateurs can perform it in two ways: either keep the legs straight or with knees bent and lie backward in support with props beneath the lower back and shoulders while lifting the chest.

Targets: Relaxation in the upper frame.

Props Needed: A Bolster or two folded blankets to support the back and shoulder.

Benefits:

  1. This pose opens up the intercostal muscles between the ribs that promote respiratory health.
  2. Helps in coping with stress and anxiety.
  3. The abdominal stretch helps in relieving menstrual cramps.

From the Chakra perspective, it activates the 4th Chakra of the body, Anahata. When the heart chakra is blocked, you may feel jealous, angry, or unworthy but when your heart chakra is open, you develop feelings of compassion, love, and connection with everyone and everything around you. This is how it will help you in uplifting your mood and improve your emotional well-being.

4. Supported Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

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Do you get tired of sitting on the chair working or while driving a car for long hours? Does it hurt your back? You must do this yoga asana to release pain and stress because this will help you to support your mental and physical well-being.

It is the most popular and beneficial yoga asana which you will be performing in restorative yoga classes as it offers a good stretch from the spine in the back to the hamstrings and calves in the bottom half.

You need to allow your upper frame to bend forward while keeping the legs straight, unbent from knees, and hands stretched over to touch the big toes of the foot.

Targets: Hamstrings, calves, and spine stretch.

Props Needed: None

Benefits:

  1. Tones and shapes the calves.
  2. Improves respiration as the upper frame leans forward.
  3. Helps women during menstrual disorders.
  4. Ensures a good alignment of the vertebral column.

This yoga pose is considered best for healing the entire human structure from head to toe via spine to counter the stressed-out life.

5. Seated Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

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A combination of two yoga poses, seated cat-cow helps to strengthen and warm up the spine. It is a breath-synchronized practice exercise that relaxes the body and mind.

In the first half of the form, the head is in an inward direction and the back is curved outwardly, whereas in the second half, the head is released in an outward direction and the back is curved inwardly.

Targets: Spine, hips, abdomen, and heart.

Props Needed: None

Benefits:

  1. Enhances flexibility.
  2. Improves blood circulation, posture, and balance.
  3. Stimulates abdominal muscles.

Traditionally it is believed that this yoga asana will open up heart muscles, and will allow the energy to flow through it. But, it also supports the emotional balance of the frame and promotes self-love, kindness, and unconditional love.

6. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

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Tired of the dynamic workout? Don’t forget to cool down by taking deep rest. Perform the Savasana, also known as final relaxation, which is one of the most relaxing yoga poses because of its ability to ground the human, and allow the mind to think and evaluate what happened all day and in the yoga session.

Targets: Entire body and mind.

Props Needed: Eye pillow and bolster (not necessary).

Benefits:

  1. Allows every workout done to sink in before the end of the session.
  2. The state of deep healing begins, tissues and cells get repaired in the state of stillness which ensures overall good health.
  3. Helps in reducing anxiety, blood pressure, and sleeping issues like insomnia.

It is not equivalent to sleep but is a type of meditation because a person get to remain in a state of stillness and focus on breathing. While performing this pose, you need to remain aware and actively present in this state of rest which will eventually benefit your physical and mental well-being.

The Footnote

Deepen your experience with yoga practice and daily workouts that help you to cope better with stress and enhance your decisiveness. Incorporate the practice of restorative yoga in your daily schedule to balance your mind and physical being. Either opt for Restorative Yoga classes or youtube videos that may guide you to the path of healing.

Get a mat, lay down, balance yourself, breathe, and relax as you go slow from head to toe.

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