I used to think of Restorative Yoga as something old people wearing matching tracksuits and striped kmart bedsocks might do, flopped over bolsters as if without skeletons, mouth half open, eyes half closed.
While restorative yoga is accessible to those with low energy, illness and kmart bed socks alike – it is not limited to the sick, the tired or the lazy. In fact, Restorative yoga may even be more appropriate for students who enjoy the hardest, fastest vinyasa class going around. While not a complete practice in itself, restorative yoga is a deeply healing, relaxing and complimentary addition to your regular yoga class or yang style exercise.
In Restorative yoga, blankets, blocks, bolsters, straps, walls – basically any props you can imagine - are used to hold deeply supported yoga asanas from anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes. In Yin yoga, the benefit comes from moving out of your comfort zone and staying there, within that zone of discomfort. In Restorative, the idea is to stay well within your comfort zone, for as long as possible.
Like standing on your hands, head or forearms, conscious control of relaxation takes practice. For western people interested in yoga asana, minimizing effort can feel counter intuitive and quite challenging to begin with. Although the physical practice itself is simple and non strenuous, you may find at first it is the most difficult class of the week when faced with much needed long held stillness, space and quiet.
Most people find Restorative yoga more effective than sleep for releasing tense muscles, relieving achy joints and transitioning the mind from stress to calm. Many say it considerably improves their quality of sleep for even the next few nights after class.
Some of my most valued feedback is when people share they’ve had a breakthrough in a creative project, found clarity in a challenging situation or felt, for the first time all week, a long overdue break from feelings of anxiety, stress and even depression.
The applications of Restorative yoga are endless – softening the hard edges of our being (physically, mentally and emotionally) finding more clarity of thought, feeling more comfortable in your own skin, exploring movement of the subtle body, improving sleep quality and creating space for deeply nurturing self care.
My own restorative yoga practice has been invaluable in creating more space in stuck parts of my body, having the energy to work long hours and practice a higher number of strong vinyasa classes without feeling fatigued, tight or stressed. I truly cannot imagine my life without the support of these deeply healing poses. I’m so excited to share more about this practice and how you can find more strength, clarity and calm, with or without funky bedsocks in a Restorative Yoga workshop on Sunday, 27th of August at Sukha Mukha Yoga.