A Gentle Approach
Restorative Yoga offers a gentle and more accessible approach to yoga while providing benefits such as easing muscle tension, relieving stress, and improving sleep. It is a slow quiet practice that focuses on relaxation, deep stretching, and opening your mind to a meditative state. It provides a great option to those unable to keep up with the physical demands of more traditional yoga practices. This style of yoga utilizes many props such as blocks, blankets, straps, and bolsters. Through restorative yoga, you can alleviate muscle strain and fully relax into the poses.
Origins of Restorative Yoga
Restorative yoga was first introduced by B.K.S. Lyengar. His goal was to create a form of yoga that provided deep stretching and relaxation while fully supporting the body to avoid any strain. Unlike traditional forms of yoga where it is common to flow from one pose to another after short periods of holding, restorative yoga will have you holding a single pose for ten minutes or as long as thirty minutes. This allows a slow gentle opening of the body while also challenging the mind to be still. This form of yoga really deepens the meditative aspect of yoga. You may find that the biggest challenge during this practice is in fact the quieting of your mind.
The deeper relaxed stretches of restorative yoga will help to alleviate stiffness and tension throughout the body. Over time you will find an increase in your flexibility and you will become more in tune with your body. Restorative yoga has a tremendous impact on mental wellness. The meditative aspect of it helps to relax the mind and relieve stress and anxiety. After committing to a regular practice, you will likely find that you are sleeping better and feeling more at ease throughout the day. This is because restorative yoga helps to calm the sympathetic nervous system which controls the fight-or-flight response and instead activates the parasympathetic nervous system which allows for relaxation and regulation of our heart and breath rate. In turn, we begin to bring balance back into stressed, tired, or overworked bodies.
How to get started
There are several options to get started. You may be able to find a local restorative yoga instructor offering classes in your city. Many instructors are now offering classes online through various video platforms. If budget is a concern, you may be able to find pre-recorded videos online offered at no cost. Getting started will require a few props such as a yoga mat, blankets, and pillows to help support your body during the class. Depending on the class, you may find you will want to also have yoga straps, a block, and bolsters. The props needed will likely vary depending on the poses your instructor is guiding you through during class.
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