What is Restorative Yoga?

 

When you think of yoga, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? You probably get the image of people doing crazy handstands and bending themselves into unbelievable shapes.

What most people don’t realize is that there are many different types of yoga and they can vary greatly. One type of yoga that you may not have heard of before is restorative yoga.

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is the most relaxing and calming style out there. It is based entirely around getting you as comfortable as humanly possible so that your body can restore itself. It involves lots of pillows/bolsters, straps, blocks, blankets and such to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. You can expect poses to be held for 10 or more minutes at a time.

 

Your Sympathetic Nervous System

The human body is an incredible thing but it slows down on its efficiency when it is under stress. When you are under stress your sympathetic nervous system kicks in. Your sympathetic nervous system is your “fight or flight” reaction. It is what keeps you safe and it is supposed to be held for short amounts of time when you need the extra bit of energy to escape a lion or tiger in the wild.

Things are a little different now and you are under stress a lot more frequently and for a lot more time. Driving, work, school, bills, health and more are all potential stressors.

When your body is in “fight or flight” it cannot function properly. It shuts out your parasympathetic nervous system so your body is stuck in danger mode.

 

Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

Your parasympathetic nervous system is your “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” response. This is the state that you need to be in for your body to regulate itself and function properly. Like I said in the other section, your parasympathetic nervous system cannot function at the same time as your sympathetic nervous system.

That means that when you are under stress, you really are just under stress and your body is focusing on not dying instead of focusing on functioning properly.

How Does Restorative Yoga Help This?

Restorative yoga gets your comfortable and relaxed physically. When you are relaxed physically it is easier for you to relax mentally as well. The goal with restorative yoga is to help relieve you from your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and allow your parasympathetic nervous system to come through and work it’s magic.

 

What to Expect from a Restorative Yoga Class

You can expect comfort, soothing music, warmth, and sometimes some sort of guided meditation or just positive and inspiring words from your instructor. There is no muscle engagement in the poses and there is no tension (stretching) either. It is very easy to fall asleep actually but try to stay awake and just enjoy the calm and comforting experience of just relaxing.

 

Who is Restorative Yoga For?

Restorative yoga is great for everyone. It is beginner friendly and has amazing benefits for just about everyone.

Restorative yoga really is quite a unique experience. Call your local yoga studio today to see if they offer any restorative classes. It just might be your new favorite class!

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