If you think that Restorative yoga is similar to stretching-based style of yoga then you are in for a wonderful surprise. At its root, Restorative yoga is about simply being, being in deliciously comfortable stillness. And it’s amazing what happens when we can just be. This practice can support an increased sense of resilience and “going with the flow” which impacts us on all levels: chemical, physical and emotional. The benefits of Restorative yoga are profound and are different from other yoga practices. Each style of yoga has so many benefits to offer and each is different in those benefits.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the many gifts of this practice.
We live in a society that has forgotten what it means to rest. If you look at stats around the world from different countries, 30-55% or more of people are chronically sleep-deprived let alone have a chance for basic relaxation. This causes exhaustion, suffering, and poor health. We hear things like this all the time but it can be hard to take in the impact.
Entertain me for a moment: I am guessing that there is a large population of raccoons where you live. Imagine if I told you right now that almost half of them are chronically sleep-deprived. Kind of scary right? Or, sad. Definitely unsettling. I don’t want sleep-deprived raccoons wandering around all over the place! That reality is the case with humans every day and we have so much more power than any animal! Imagine what our world would be like if that were different if even 10 percent of us were better rested. A benefit of Restorative yoga is reconnection with our innate ability to rest. Once we rest we also have a greater chance of being able to sleep and be in a healthy balance. Everyone will thank you, although I’m not sure the raccoons will care. 😉
Once we have reconnected with our ability to rest, we will give our mind, body, and emotions a far better chance at health. Our central nervous system, delicately balanced to administer chemicals to us when it perceives danger or safety likely finally has a chance to calm down. Our body will probably experience fewer shots of cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine – all chemicals that are designed to increase our safety in the short term but turn off a lot of systems in our body that are good for our long term health. You’ll be amazed once these chemicals are no longer likely wrecking as much havoc. Your heart, blood pressure, hormonal balance, immunity, digestion, fertility, emotional health… basically everything will quite likely thank you! A benefit of Restorative Yoga is quite likely greater balance in all the systems of our bodies including our nervous systems and hormones.
“Once we have reconnected with our ability to rest, we will give our mind, body, and emotions a far better chance at health.”
Now that you are regularly resting watch as your body slowly rebalances and uses each opportunity to heal whatever it can, making big problems into smaller and smaller ones. Watch as your emotional resilience increases. Your chances of being healthy consistently will increase. Your likelihood of losing your temper, having a road rage attack, or getting anxious will fade and lessen. You are now giving yourself less stress from both the inside and the outside.
Watch as you gain a capacity to be present with kindness towards yourself through the deep inner strength you are creating by this practice. Notice that you seem to be getting sick less often. Rest is not a luxury, it is the foundation on which we build our capacity to be healthy, stable human beings.
Once your reservoir of rest and health improves, learn to be more and more at peace and at home with yourself by resting through more and more of the experiences you have being human. As the Tao te Ching says: “compassionate to yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world”. You will gain compassion and insight into others from the gentleness and kindness that you cultivate for yourself. Restorative Yoga is a great support in expanding our capacity to be present with ourselves even during difficult times so that we have more choice in how we choose to live, act and be in the world.
Restorative Yoga is a wonderful journey that enfolds with increasing benefits over each passing day. I cannot personally imagine my life over the last twenty years without the support of this practice. I am sure that my health would have been worse and my relationships would have suffered more as well. What are you waiting for? Time to get cozy.
Article by Andrea Peloso
Photos reposted from Yoga International
Except Danielle by Andrea Peloso
Tao te Ching – Stephen Mitchell Edition