Replenish and reset with restorative yoga
Restorative yoga is the perfect antidote to a busy day. While vinyasa yoga, flow yoga, hot yoga and power yoga have many beneficial benefits, attending a class in the evening can often feel like consuming a double espresso. Restorative yoga, on the other hand, is more akin to a soothing turmeric latte with home-made almond milk and cacao sprinkles!
Byron Yoga Centre has seen a steady increase in the number of students attending its Restorative Yoga Training over the years. Among them are yoga teachers looking to increase their skill set to cater to the growing trend of more relaxing yoga classes, but also signing up are non-yoga teachers wanting to learn how to create a nourishing home practice.
The benefits of restorative yoga
Restorative yoga is a wonderful medicine for those with a busy lifestyle. If you’ve had a hectic day, a restorative yoga practice will ground you, calming your nervous system, your mind and your emotions. A deeply calming form of yoga, a restorative practice will also decrease stress, promote better sleep, balance your yang day with some yin time and connect you to the present moment so you get the most out of your evening.
An after-work restorative sequence can do wonders to ease physical discomfort from specific occupation-related symptoms, such as lower back ache from a desk job, computer- or stress-induced shoulder tension or swollen calves from being on your feet in a hospitality role.
A deeply calming form of yoga, a restorative practice will decrease stress, promote better sleep, balance your yang day with some yin time and connect you to the present moment. Restorative yoga encourages introspection and, unlike more vigorous forms of yoga, it can create energy without using energy.
A regular restorative practice has been shown to work on a deep level to help improve serious conditions such as depression, panic attacks, addiction and eating disorders plus migraines, endometriosis and adrenal fatigue. The poses can be beneficial for people recovering from illness or injury and, as they boost the immune system, they can also work to help prevent sickness.
Pretty much anyone will benefit from even just a short relaxing practice. You don’t even need a yoga mat or yoga props. Although restorative yoga does utilise props such as bolsters, blankets and eye pillows, you can easily improvise with cushions, pillows, sofa throws and sleep masks.
How restorative yoga works
Vigorous forms of yoga activate the sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” response) while elements of restorative yoga — quiet asana, slow breathing and stillness — increase the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (known as the “rest and digest” functions).
Restorative yoga asks you to slow down and surrender, to become receptive rather than active. It encourages introspection and, unlike more vigorous forms of yoga, it can create energy without using energy.
Restorative yoga asks you to slow down and surrender, to become receptive rather than active.
The profoundly powerful effects are thought to be a combination of the physical relaxation, the subtle release along the energy channels (known as the nadis in yogic philosophy), the mindfulness elements of the practice and the mood-enhancing qualities.
Marita Dortins, a restorative yoga teacher at Byron Yoga Centre, shares her top three restorative poses. She suggests you hold each pose for five to 15 minutes. Please work with caution if you have any injuries or sensitivity in the lower back, neck or knees.
How Sit on a bolster, place your hand behind you to support yourself as you roll your spine down to lie on the mat. The bolster should be under your sacrum so you may need to lift your hips and adjust its position. Keep your knees bent and your feet on the floor, and you can rest your arms by your side on your belly.
Benefits This pose releases tension in the neck and shoulders and tones the kidneys and adrenal glands. It drains fluid from the legs, reducing fatigue and increasing energy. Relaxing in supported bridge encourages deep breathing and can create an emotional release by gently opening the thoracic spine and chest.
Supported prone twist
How Place the bolster lengthways on your mat and take a folded blanket on the left side. If you have yoga blocks you can raise the bolster by placing the blocks in a T-shape at the top of the mat. Sit with your right hip at the base of the bolster. Bend the knees and bring them out to the left side of the mat. Place the folded blanket between the knees and ankles; this will create space through the lower back and sacroiliac joint.
Place your hands on either side of the bolster, squaring your torso to the bolster. Inhale to lengthen your spine and as you exhale lower your abdomen along the length of the bolster, bringing the right side of your face to the bolster. Place your forearms and palms on the floor on each side, bend your elbows and allow your body to become heavy and the belly soft. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits This gentle twist helps relieve tension and tightness in the back muscles and along the side of the body. The pose stretches the intercostal muscles on the side of the ribs to enhance breathing capacity while gently massaging the digestive system and nourishing the spine.
Supported upavistha konasana
How Place a chair at the centre of your mat and use a blanket draped over the edge to create a soft edge. If you have a bolster you could lean it against the chair for extra support. Sit in front of the chair and place your legs as wide as is comfortable and sustainable for the time. Inhale and extend your spine and arms upwards, lengthening the spine and waist. As you exhale, fold forward from the hip crease and relax against the support. You can adjust the chair so that the spine is long and you comfortably rest your forehead and arms on the seat or your cheek on the bolster as you hug the cushion.
Benefits This deeply relaxing pose stretches the lower back, inner thighs and hamstrings. It helps relieve menstrual discomfort and nourishes reproductive organs. Resting in supported upavistha konasana promotes introspection and helps quieten the mind.
Byron Yoga Centre offers a Four-Day Restorative Yoga Training Course suitable for yoga teachers or practitioners looking to establish a home practice. For more, visit byronyoga.com.
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