Healing Benefits of Restorative Yoga
People often hear the word Yoga and think of an exercise or vinyasa class (a method of yoga in which movements form a flowing sequence in coordination with the breath.) What many of us don’t realize is that with the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we need something that will help us to slow down and recharge. Per the Chopra Center “Restorative yoga could just as easily be called “mindful yoga” due to the expanded awareness of self and body that comes through the practice’
So, you may be asking yourself what exactly is restorative Yoga? Restorative Yoga is a practice that is all about slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. During the long holds of restorative yoga your muscles can relax deeply. It's a unique feeling because you are completely supported by props. There are several benefits to adding Restorative Yoga to your daily practice, below are just a few examples.
After being placed in a pose, the mind and body can relax, permitting you to go into a meditative/tranquil state while being supported by the props allowing you to feel safe and secure in each pose.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Ankle Pose):
How to Practice Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Ankle Pose):
In this pose begin by placing 2-3 folded blankets stacked on top of one another or a couch pillow underneath you to provide you with a slight reclining position.
Lie down comfortably on your back, either on the yoga mat or on your bolster/blankets/pillow with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms face up toward the ceiling.
Bend your knees to bring the soles (bottoms) of your feet together to touch.The outer (pinky toe) edges of your feet should be resting on the mat. Let the legs fall open and allow gravity to support the weight of the legs.
Check in with your body. If your hips and groin are feeling tight, you can take your feet further away from your body; alternately, if you’re feeling more open, you can bring your feet closer toward your body to deepen the stretch.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears and allow your back body to sink more deeply into the mat. Stay in the pose anywhere from one to five minutes, depending on your level of comfort.
Breathe deeply. You can stay here for as little as a minute or two or for longer—up to 15 to 20 minutes—if it’s comfortable
To come out of the pose, take the palms of the hands on the outer thighs to gently fold the legs together, and bring the soles of the feet flat down on the mat. Then, hug your knees into your chest and gently rock from side to side to release the low back.
Note: If you feel a pull, feel free to place some pillows or additional blankets underneath your knees for added support. Remember restorative Yoga is all about comfort you can utilize any additional props needed to achieve that.
According to a 2013 study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and completed by the University of California, San Diego found that “restorative yoga helped overweight women trim subcutaneous fat. One explanation was that restorative yoga might reduce cortisol levels. This stress hormone rises when a person becomes anxious and has been found to result in more abdominal fat”
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose):
How to Practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose):
In this pose begin by placing 2-3 folded blankets stacked on top of one, blocks or a couch pillow underneath you.
Note: If the block is uncomfortable, then utilize the couch pillow or blankets.
Lie on your mat with your blocks close by. Place your arms close in to your sides.
Bend your elbows and press your upper arms into your mat to help you arch your rib cage up.
Straighten your arms out alongside your body, and then press your feet down into the floor. As you plant your feet, stretch your knees out away from your pelvis to lift your hips.
Place your block/blanket/pillow under your pelvis—not your low back. It should be positioned under the sacroiliac (SI) joint. Make sure the block is placed width wise across your SI joint so that it supports both sides of the joint.
Begin by placing your block at its lowest height (Baby Bear position). If that feels easy, you can turn it on its side (Mama Bear position, as in the photo). If that feels fine, you can try turning it to its highest position (Papa Bear position). If at any point, you feel stress anywhere as you increase the height of the block, go back to the previous position. Your body—and your nervous system—will not relax if you’re feeling pain or discomfort.
If your knees are uncomfortable, feel free to place a block between your knees and squeeze your knees into the block. For this, you’d want to use the narrowest dimension.
Relax your neck, throat and jaw, as well as your facial muscles. Breathe deeply. You can stay here for as little as a minute or two or for longer—up to 15 to 20 minutes—if it’s comfortable.
To leave the pose, lift your hips off the block. Remove the block and set it aside. Extend your arms out overhead and slowly roll your spine down onto the floor.
Feel Free to roll over to your side for a few breaths as well prior to coming up to a seated position
Get Better Sleep:
According to a Psychologytoday.com article, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia “A new study indicates that yoga can help to improve sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia. Researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice might affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity.”
Balasana (Childs Pose):
How to Practice Balasana (Childs Pose):
In this pose, all you will need is yourself and your yoga mat.
Begin on your hands and knees. Center your breath, and begin to let your thoughts slow down. Turn your awareness inward.
Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching. Rest your buttocks on your heels. (Those with very tight hips can keep their knees and thighs together.)
Sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the crown of your head.
On an exhalation, bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor.
Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down. Press back slightly with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels. Lengthen from your hips to your armpits, and then extend even further through your fingertips. (For deeper relaxation, bring your arms back to rest alongside your thighs with your palms facing up. Completely relax your elbows.
Let your upper back broaden. Soften and relax your lower back. Allow all tension in your shoulders, arms and neck to drain away.
Keep your gaze drawn inward with your eyes closed.
Hold for up to a minute or longer, breathing softly.
To release the pose, gently use your hands to walk your torso upright to sit back on your heels.
In my own personal experience, I have found that adding this Restorative practice as part of my daily/weekly routine has considerably helped with my anxiety, stress and emotional well-being. The wonderful thing about Restorative Yoga is that you can learn how to do the poses at home with props that you can find around the house rather than having to go out and buy the props that you may see in the classroom setting.
For more information on how Restorative Yoga can help you, please feel free to contact Carrie at www.RadiantYouWellness1.com or Radiantyouwellness1@gmail.com