In our fast-paced society it can be hard, if not impossible to slow things down. When your life is racing, so is your mind and restorative yoga may be the answer.
When you indulge in a restorative yoga session, you create that mental and physical balance that helps you to avoid and maybe even eliminate anxiety and stress. Merriam-Webster defines ‘to restore’ as ‘to give back, to return, to put or bring something back into existence or use, and to return to an earlier or original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.’
So with everything that is going on in our lives, opting for a restorative yoga session may give our bodies something back that has been lost or is out of use or is no longer in its original condition. With all the stress we put our bodies under, it’s about time to slow down and cleanse, repair and restore.
Here are our TOP 10 reasons to try restorative yoga to give back to yourself.
#1 Absolute Relaxation
Restorative yoga is a non-competitive, slow and quiet practice that allows us to relax completely. We need to balance out our high-speed lifestyle that keeps our mind and nervous system over stimulated and makes it hard to relax. Recent research shows that this type of deep relaxation can help improve our mental health, fight off depression and helps us to sleep better. It has even shown to strengthen our immune system and can even resist damage to our DNA.
#2 Balancing Your Nervous System
Our central nervous system consists of two parts: the sympathetic nervous system, known as the fight-or-flight system, and the parasympathetic nervous system that is known to help us stay calm and collected. If we are constantly stressed out with a busy lifestyle, pressure at work, relationship challenges and family issues, our sympathetic nervous system has to work on overdrive, which can lead to an excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn leads to physical and mental exhaustion. Restorative Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system through calming postures and deep breathing. With that we can slow down our emotions, heart rate and blood pressure and put our body in a much healthier, more productive state.
#3 Encourage Mindfulness
The slower pace of a restorative yoga practice expands the awareness of our body and our self. Restorative yoga cultivates a much deeper experience and awareness of the physical sensations that are happening in our body as well as the emotions, feelings and thoughts that arise. Simply put, you can have a profound experience of what is going on inside yourself and are able to feel more and notice more of what is happening within and around yourself.
#4 Slow Down the Pace of Life
Our daily life can be at a frenetic pace with the constant bombardment of information from our smart phones, tablets or laptops and all the activities that ‘need to be done’ immediately. It is detrimental to our health and well-being to disconnect from time to time and slow down the pace. Restorative yoga offers an incredible opportunity to shut out all the turbulences of life and gives us a chance to go inward and deepen our awareness of what’s going on inside ourselves.
#5 Cultivate Heightened Awareness
As the practice of restorative yoga is at such a slow, comfortable pace, it opens up a doorway to deeper understand your own body. You have the possibility to intimately connect to your body, explore it and embrace it on a deeper level. This will allow you to discover deeper levels of the strengths of your body and this can lead to the emergence of a profound sense of self-acceptance and ultimately self-love.
#6 Deepen Introspection
Restorative yoga, with its deliberate movements and slow pace allows you to draw your attention inward, away from the situations of the world and external events that keep your mind busy all day long. As you direct your awareness within you can have a closer look at who you really are and what you want out of life. This can lead to a whole new level of self-exploration and self-discovery that will allow you to live a more authentic, purposeful life.
#7 Feel Safe and Nurtured
Our competitive, modern life can make us feel insecure on a variety of levels and we move through our days filled with uncertainty, anxiety and fear. Restorative yoga feels like a safe harbor in which you have the amazing opportunity to reconnect with your true nature. The deep relaxation, breath work and support of your teacher and props is like a refuge from which you can emerge feeling a lot more secure in yourself.
#8 Let Go of the Ego
The practice of restorative yoga is about letting go and surrendering your body. When you are comfortable in your restorative pose, there is no need to change, there is nothing to improve or achieve and you can let go of expectations and competition. Being in a pose for 5 to 10 minutes is hard work and therefore gives you a chance to surrender to the struggle and let go of your ego. It’s the time to pause and restore on an emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual level and just be.
#9 Cultivate Emotional Balance
In our daily life it is hard to let go of frustrations, stress and anxiety. We are always on the go and don’t give ourselves the time to relax and restore anymore to have the possibility to tune in to our emotions and feelings. Restorative yoga with its introspective qualities gives us the chance to go within and realize what kind of emotions and feelings we are holding on to and work through them to eventually let go of frustration, anxiety and anger. We get a chance to find our flow, calmness and presence again cultivating emotional balance.
#10 Enhance Flexibility
The beauty of a restorative yoga practice is that we can increase our flexibility without the risk of overstretching. Instead of manipulating our muscles or manually reaching to stretch more, the point of restorative yoga is to surrender to the pose and let gravity do the work. Keep in mind, as restorative yoga is non-competitive there is no end goal involved. All you need to do is relax into a pose and release any tension your body may hold and explore what happens.
We always think we have to work hard to give our bodies the most beneficial workout. And while active workouts are indeed fabulous, there is only so much our bodies can take and sometimes we need to slow things down. In restorative yoga, we hold poses like Child’s Pose, Restorative Fish, Legs-Up-the-Wall or Restorative Bridge for a few minutes using blocks, bolsters, pillows, straps… to support our bodies to enjoy the benefits of passive, deep stretching. Nourish your body and give yourself some little extra time to open up and connect with your body.
BALANCE YOUR HIGH-ENERGY LIFESTYLE, SLOW DOWN AND RESTORE
Joschi & Monika