As a slower and more gentle form of yoga, restorative yoga delivers stress relief, muscle relaxation, and a good night’s sleep. This practice emphasizes slow relaxed poses, deep stretches, breathwork, and meditation. This is a wonderful alternative to more traditional practices and may even be suitable for those recovering from injuries or with limited mobility. Many different props are used in this form of yoga in order to fully support the body during each pose. The support provided eliminates muscle strain and allows you to become fully relaxed in every pose.
How it Began
Restorative yoga was born through a quest of B.K.S. Lyengar when he decided to create a practice that provided deep gentle stretching without causing muscle strain. Traditional forms of yoga usually required moving from one pose to the next with short periods of holding. Lyengar created a practice that is extremely slow and requires holding poses for as few as ten minutes and as long as thirty minutes. This pace allows your body to fully succumb to a pose and gently open up. While this may sound too easy, you will find that the real challenge is allowing your mind to quiet down through extended periods of meditation.
Through the deep relaxation experienced during restorative yoga, stress and tension will begin to release from the body. After continued practice, you will begin to notice your flexibility improving and that you are becoming more in sync with your body. Mental health is also benefitted greatly by restorative yoga. The long periods of meditation and relaxation help your mind to unwind and release stress and worry. A regular practice will eventually lead to feeling calmer during the day and sleeping better at night. This happens because restorative yoga engages our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our nervous system that helps us relax as well as brings alignment to our breath and heart rate. So much benefit is provided to worn-out, stressed-out, or injured bodies through this gentle practice.
How to Begin
Check around in your city as you may be able to find someone local to guide you through classes. If a local instructor is not an option, you will likely be able to find virtual classes or even a pre-recorded class online. This style of yoga involves many props. You may need an assortment of blankets and pillows along with your yoga mat to get started. Additional props you may find helpful are bolsters, blocks, and yoga straps. The props needed will vary from class to class. With so much to be gained, this practice really is a must for overall health.
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