A Guide to Restorative Yoga
You’ve seen it lurking on the studio schedule. You’ve heard it’s relaxing and can help relieve stress. So why are you avoiding it?
Restorative yoga is an ultra-relaxing, “sleepover”-style of yoga that can include lots of props like blankets, bolsters, blocks, straps, and pillows, making it feel like a sleepy slumber party.
I’ve heard students say they don’t want to go to restorative yoga classes because they want to go to yoga to workout. True, restorative yoga isn’t much in terms of a workout for your body. However, restorative yoga offers something most of our Western-culture minds greatly need: balance.
Our culture is primarily yang—or masculine—in nature. We work, strive, achieve, make to-do lists, move, sweat, and run. If we live completely in the masculine energy, we’ll eventually explode. Conversely, if we live completely in the opposing yin (feminine) energy, we’ll eventually implode. We need a balance of doing and being to feel balanced.
Restorative yoga helps us reset and balance the yin and yang energies. You can expect to hold poses for a while—usually at least a couple of minutes—and use lots of those cozy props.
While your nervous system is probably functioning mostly in the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) during most of your day-to-day (stress, tension, and fatigue), restorative yoga can help balance out into the rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) side. With this shift, you might notice your body relax in places you didn’t notice were holding tension, your digestive system may kick in (belly gurgles), and you may experience an overall sense of release and surrender.
Another wonderful aspect of restorative yoga is that it’s gentle enough for pretty much anyone to participate. (Though as with any new activity, double-check with your healthcare provider first.)