Restorative Yoga. What the Heck is that?

Jun 26, 2020 | General Yoga

Written by Fedi Aloui, M.S.
restorative yoga

WHAT IS RESTORATIVE YOGA ? 

Restorative Yoga is different from other contemporary yoga. It is a still and slow practice, allowing you to fully relax yourself by holding around 5 minutes for each pose, sometimes even for twenty minutes. The long holding of different poses allows the body and muscles to relax utterly. This type of yoga generally involves around five or six poses only. The experience is totally unique as props such as blankets, blocks are used to support the body in order to achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation.

Practicing restorative yoga is a great practice and cure for well-being. Popular author Deepak Chopra once said “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Calmness and stillness are powerful. It gives you a chance to connect to your true self.

Grab chance and give it a shot! It is a relaxing and slow-paced experience worth trying!

IS RESTORATIVE YOGA GOOD FOR BEGINNERS ? 

Well, it is great for people suffering from stress, insomnia, anxiety or illness. By practicing restorative yoga, it can greatly improve their mental and physical health, thereby restoring a high quality of life.

As restorative yoga involves the use of simple props only, it is beginner-friendly. You may start with doing two poses each day. Remember to do little stretching first to warm up your body and muscles. Then, make good use of props like towels, blankets, pillows, eye bags and so on to support yourself in different poses. Hold each pose for a longer period of time. Make sure to entirely relax your body and mind during the whole practice. You will certainly feel relieved.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DOING RESTORATIVE YOGA ? 

Restorative yoga focuses on breathing. It allows you to enter a state of deep relaxation, thus promoting mindfulness. There are 5 key benefits of practicing it, as explained below.

1. Alleviates Stress

Are you stressed out? Feeling under the weather? Guess what, you will be surprised to know the main benefit restorative yoga gives is stress reduction. A research study done in Japan in 2019 showed that restorative yoga is an effective way to alleviate occupational stress.

Workplace stress is a common and alarming issue. Chronic stress can actually lead to major health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even heart diseases. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to find ways to combat and alleviate stress level. Try integrating this type of yoga in your daily life so as to improve your overall sense of well-being.

2. Enhances Flexibility

Regular practice of restorative yoga helps enhance your flexibility as well as makes you more supple.

Well-known yogi Esther Ekhart once said “The beauty of Restorative yoga is that there is no muscular contraction involved. We believe we have to “work” to increase flexibility, but often we achieve more opening in parts of the body that we perceive as tight by softening and relaxing than through an active asana practice.”

During this yoga practice, each pose is held for a longer time, as such muscles are able to stretch and release slowly, thereby improving the flexibility.

3. Improves Sleep

The practice of restorative yoga allows you to release tense muscles and negative energy, thus fostering calmness and a restful mind. A research study found that regular practice of yoga can significantly decrease the time taken to fall asleep and increase the number of sleeping hours.

As you know, a good night’s sleep is crucial for your overall health. It enables your body to repair and get prepared for the next day. Practicing this type of yoga before bed helps you get a more restful sleep and be well-prepared for next day’s challenges. Simply try the Legs Up The Wall pose before sleep, it will help you feel total relaxation!

4. Balances Your Nervous System

When you engage in deep relaxation, your body experiences healing and your nervous system is balanced. During the practice of restorative yoga, the slow-paced movements help relax your body and mind, thus deactivating the flight-or-flight response from your nervous system. Besides, the practice also increases energy flow to different organs, fostering overall body health.

5. Strengthens Your Immune System

Restorative yoga helps boost your immune system, hence making you less prone to illnesses. Practicing yoga consistently lowers your stress level which reduces inflammation eventually. This strengthens your immune system and minimizes your risk of getting cold or flu.

CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT BY DOING RESTORATIVE YOGA ?

Wondering that’s it? No! No! No! In actual, yoga is also a very useful tool to help you loose weight and restorative yoga is no exception. A 48-week research study funded by National Institutes of Health in 2013 found out that participants who performed restorative yoga lost an average of 1.3 kg of weight whereas participants who performed stretching exercise only lost 0.7 kg on average at six months. Besides, the study also pointed out that the restorative yoga group participants lost more than 2.5 times of subcutaneous fat compared to the stretching group. This shows that practicing it is an effective way to burn fats and lose weight.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO RESTORATIVE YOGA ?

There are various benefits associated with the practice of this type of yoga and you can actually do it as frequent as possible say three to five times per week for at least one hour. If you are a beginner, start slowly and gradually build up your practice. Do few poses each time and allow yourself one rest day every week. It is also great to combine it with other yoga or activities for optimal health benefits.

Go, grab the tools and start your  yoga journey today!

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