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What is Restorative Yoga, and how can it work for me?

"You should do yoga!"

We've all heard it before, right? There are so many different styles of yoga that it's hard to know not only what is being recommended to us, but also what will be beneficial to our own unique mind and body. The most physically demanding styles (vinyasa, ashtanga, Bikram) tend to be at the forefront of awareness with complicated poses and athletic sequences posted all over social media, while some quieter and less showy styles get dismissed as "easy" or "nap time". Well guess what?? We all could use a little or A LOT more rest!

Restorative yoga is a gentle and relaxing form of yoga that often involves the use of props (blankets, blocks, bolsters, straps) to support the body in various yoga postures. The aim of restorative yoga is to promote deep relaxation and rest, which in turn gives the body permission to release tension and stress. Restorative yoga can be beneficial for people of all ages and abilities, especially those who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or fatigue. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve flexibility and range of motion, and promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

Some common poses in a Restorative Yoga practice are:

Child's Pose, Legs Up the Wall, Supine Twists, Reclined Butterfly,

Pigeon, and Savasana.

Restorative Yoga might be a beneficial addition to your life and routine if:

  1. As the day progresses your shoulders tend to drift up toward your ears and your jaw starts to hurt from clenching it: Restorative Yoga can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety levels, as it helps to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation.

  2. Restful sleep eludes you on even a semi-regular basis : Restorative yoga poses can help to relax the body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  3. You experience chronic (or even semi-regular) pain: Restorative Yoga can be a gentle way to alleviate chronic pain, as it helps to release tension in the muscles and joints.

  4. You are recovering from an injury or illness: Restorative Yoga can not only help stimulate the body’s natural healing response, but it can be a safe and gentle way to rebuild strength and flexibility after time away from your yoga practice or other physical activity.

Ok, so stick with me here:

What would or could happen if you start to approach your Restorative Yoga practice as a sort of “Savasana” for your daily life?

We are accustomed to 3-7 minutes dedicated to (or sometimes shoehorned in) Savasana at the end of our more active yoga practices, but that can often feel like not quite enough time to settle and surrender.

The problem with that lies in the fact that it is only in Savasana that our bodies are permitted (and able) to absorb the physical effects of our practice and our minds are permitted to experience peace.

In the next few days, see what happens when you move through your daily life as if it is an active yoga practice. At the end of the day (or whenever time permits!), take time for your Savasana or restorative yoga poses (holding each anywhere from 3-5 minutes). How does this affect your body? your breath? your thoughts?

Stephanie Cottrell is an Albuquerque, NM based yoga teacher at Join her for an in-person Restorative Yoga session at The Backbone Naprapathic Rehab Clinic and learn more here!

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