I fell in love with restorative yoga – this amazing antidote to stress – 14 years ago when it became my friend in need and helped me through a period of illness. Here I share my experiences from this amazing yoga style, why restorative yoga is so powerful and how it can be a tool for stress release.
Restorative yoga – calming and relaxing
The impact restorative yoga has in releasing stress and tension is very personal. About 14 years ago I had a bout of serious asthma attacks that were life changing. I was continually in and out of the hospital and put on high levels of cortisone for an extended period that created extreme anxiety and panic attacks. I started practicing restorative yoga which was integral to my recovery. Restorative yoga calmed my nervous system, relaxed my body and released tension from my breath, all of which were bracing for and contributing to future asthma attacks. No amount of trying to talk myself out of the situation helped because my whole system was stuck in a heightened state of tension. I needed to bypass my mind and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is exactly what restorative yoga does.
Why restorative is the perfect antidote to stress
Modern life is fast paced and filled with stressors that contribute to a low-grade level of stress that we're often unaware off. This continuous state of SNS arousal has lead to many modern day illnesses such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and stress disorders. Restorative provides the perfect antidote to stress because it creates a supported pause. By completely supporting the body and being still for extended periods the breath, the mind and the nervous system all begins to calm down.
Different restorative poses can be used for different purposes though they all help to calm and quiet the nervous system. There are poses that open the breath and lift our spirits when we're feeling depressed, poses that are supportive and nurturing when we're feeling anxious and poses that target specific parts of the body where tension accumulates.
Restorative yoga releases tension on the physical, mental and emotional level. Since our bodies store all our past experiences, when we let go of the holding in the physical body we often have strong emotional releases as suppressed emotions and past experiences locked in the body bubble up.
One of the advantages of a restorative practice is that it can be practiced by everyone. People who aren't physically able to practice asana (yoga poses), such as the elderly and physically challenged can reap the benefits of deep relaxation and energetic rebalancing.
Target imbalances with restorative yoga
Restorative poses by themselves open energetic lines in the body because of the amount of time spent in each pose. We have 72,000 energetic pathways in the body and seven major energetic centers or chakras that run along the spine. I’ve developed a restorative series that focuses on balancing the chakras. Imbalances in any chakra over an extended period of time can create imbalance in the others and is often responsible for imbalances in our bodies and our lives. By combining specific subtle body balancing techniques with specific restorative poses we can target chakra imbalances.
Restorative and Ayurveda
Restorative, like asana is an excellent way to correct doshic imbalances. When restorative postures are sequenced and adapted for specific imbalances along with specific yoga nidra practices, visualizations and mantras they are even more powerful.
Restorative and Yoga Nidra
I grew up practicing yoga nidra in my teens in Mumbai, India. The stillness it led me into had a profound impact on my practice and my teaching. Restorative and yoga nidra compliment each other perfectly because restorative leads people into a place of deep stillness which when followed by yoga nidra allows for an even deeper state of surrender enabling the release of past experiences locked in the subconscious and unconscious.
Restorative and the Koshas
The koshas are our five vibratory fields that make up who we are. In restorative, my focus has been on integrating the koshas. I design practices that focus on releasing tension from all five vibratory fields because tension in any of these fields disconnects us from our essence creating unease and a lack of clarity in our lives. By integrating visualization, pranayama, kriya techniques, and mantras into restorative we release tension from these sheaths enabling us to rest back to spirit and bring wisdom and clarity into our lives.
Further reading on restorative and yoga nidra
- Learn more about restorative yoga! (in Swedish)
- Yin & Restorative: The art of pausing – part 1, by Ulrica Norberg
- Yoga nidra – att existera utan att prestera (in Swedish), by Jennie Wadsten.
Videos online with restorative and yoga nidra
Here is a playlist with videos on restorative yoga – all classes in one playlist!
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