Why I love Restorative Yoga, by Hayley Elam
When I began my yoga journey I started out doing super dynamic vinyasa flow classes, thinking it was the norm to be doing 50 chaturangas in a class and nearly passing out. Now don’t get me wrong, these classes are great and they really do serve some people so well, unfortunately, they just didn’t work for me and I would often end up feeling in pain or very depleted afterwards. Then I discovered restorative yoga and it changed everything!
Restorative yoga is a form of active relaxation yoga, which aims to move a person from a state of ‘doing’ to a state of ‘being’. It was developed by a very well known yoga teacher called B.K.S. Iyengar, who was influential in introducing yoga to the western world in the 20th century.
In restorative yoga, the aim is to support the body and get as comfortable as possible, being free from any tension or discomfort and allowing everything to be able to soften and release. A variety of different props are often used to facilitate this comfort, although you can often use the things you have in your home with exactly the same effects. When we are comfortable, it allows everything to open, lengthen and relax, quieting and relaxing the nervous system as well as the physical body. Restorative yoga allows us to bring stillness and calmness in our physical body, which can then transfer out to the emotional and mental body. Restorative postures can put you in the perfect position for comfort and ease, which in turn allows you space to observe the self and have the ability to begin to practice mindfulness and meditation.
Here are just some of the amazing benefits restorative yoga can have:
* Promotes healing and renewal from the inside out
* Helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels
* Physically calms the nervous system
* Releases tension, pain and stiffness
* Relaxes and rejuvenates the body, mind and soul
* Promotes a more restful sleep
* Improves flexibility
* Relieves pain and stiffness
Restorative yoga classes will leave you feeling peaceful and calm. It is the ultimate gift you can give yourself and there is absolutely no experience required. Anyone can do it!
Restorative yoga postures are best done in a warm, dark and quiet environment. With this series, hold each one for as long as it is comfortable – a typical length in each posture can be anything from 2 to 10 minutes.
- Supported Sukhasana (Supported Easy Pose)
Sit cross-legged, with forehead and arms resting on a padded chair seat in front of you. Stack folded blankets on the chair seat until you reach a comfortable height. This pose releases tension in the back and neck muscles, and feels very calming. If your legs are not too tight, you can also add similar forward-bending postures with one or both legs extended straight while the forehead rests on the chair. Most people need to raise the pelvis on one to three folded blankets or cushions while practicing these postures.
- Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall)
With the pelvis elevated on a bolster or folded blankets, lie on your back with your legs up the wall. If your legs tire of being straight, bend the knees and cross the legs, with knees near the wall. This pose stimulates blood pressure sensors in the neck and upper chest, triggering reflexes that reduce nerve input into the adrenal glands, slow the heart rate, slow brain waves, relax blood vessels, and reduce the amount of adrenaline circulating in the bloodstream.
- Supported Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose)
This is my favourite pose. Your lower back is supported on a bolster, block, cushions or on long, folded blankets. This pose also stimulates the blood pressure sensors, so it has many of the same effects as Legs up the Wall. It relieves tension in the chest and front body, and helps to open up the lungs, improving breathing.
- Savasana (Corpse pose)
Lie on your back with arms outstretched, with normal inhalation and aiming for nice long, slow exhalations. This pose allows complete relaxation in a neutral position. Emphasis on the exhalation helps to slow the heart and calm the mind.
If you would like to experience this for yourself, come join us at Lost in Yoga on Sunday afternoons. We have a 5.15pm Flow to Restore class followed by a 6.30pm Restorative and Yoga Nidra class – I can only describe these classes as yummy goodness for the body, mind and soul. These classes aim to calm the mind and soothe the nervous system, leaving you feeling amazing and ready for whatever life throws at you.
Check out our full schedule here!