No man is an island.
Our energy is affected by many external factors and life pulls and pushes us in many ways. The relationships that bring us love and joy can also cause us pain and worry, the work responsibilities that offer pride and satisfaction can also lead to stress and burn out. With so many amazing ways to spend our leisure time in this city that never sleeps, even our ‘free’ time can be laced with pressure, the pressure that we should always be ‘doing’ something to be fully alive.
Restorative yoga is a liberating practice as it is not a practice of ‘doing’, but a practice of ‘being’. Through finding inner stillness and quiet we see that the essence of being fully alive is most potent with an absence of doing when we start to peel away the layers of stimulation and distraction. This is a practice of ‘undoing’ and, in my opinion, it is an essential practice to maintain balance.
What is Restorative Yoga?
Poses are ‘held’ for several minutes – often between five and 20. The poses are passive, meaning there is no muscle engagement. The body is totally supported in the postures by props – blankets, blocks, and bolsters. With this support, we can let go of physical tension, of mental tension, and of emotional tension. The body is gently invited to open in areas we may keep habitually closed. This is a gentle opening and not a stretch (stretching is mildly stimulating to the nervous system). Significantly, over the course of a resto, creative yoga class we move the spine in all directions, gently folding forwards, backward and twisting. A healthy spine enhances well-being.
Why practice Restorative Yoga?
In restorative yoga, you are momentarily stepping away from the outside world and from all the demands it makes on your, body, mind and energy. You are invited into a still and silent space where the body’s own resources (it’s toolkit) is given the opportunity to awaken, to heal and to restore. Relaxation takes us out of stress mode and activates the sympathetic nervous system – this switches our body over to ‘maintenance mode’. Simply put, when we allow ourselves to stop and relax, the inner healing processes can take place, homeostasis can be restored.
Restorative yoga is for everyone, not just those with injuries or physical limitations (though wonderful in those instances too!) This practice is for anyone who ever feels stressed or short of time. It is for people who would like to sleep better, for those who get run down easily, who want to give their body a chance to heal, who suffer from a reactive nature, or who simply want to maintain optimum well-being.
Restorative yoga isn’t being lazy. In fact, finding a place to ‘do’ nothing in your life can be extremely constructive. I urge you to try the practice and see what extra space and energy it frees up for you.