It’s official, we’re highly stimulated at all times. Our personal lives are busy, our professional lives are busy, the world around us is busy at all times. There seems to be very little time to retreat and refresh. Even when we’re home “relaxing” we’re stimulated, either by the television or social media, etc. There has never been a time that we needed to slow down as much as we do today. A quick and easy restorative practice once a week could literally change your life and your health. Check it out:
What Is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is just that, restorative. This practice is slow, it’s supportive (physically with props but also emotionally), it draws you inwards and forces you to take a moment to breathe, and to pay attention to that breathe and the feelings that present themselves in our bodies and our minds. Restorative yoga uses props and a handful of poses that are held for 3-5 minutes or longer. Some teachers use essential oils and eye pillows, even weights for the hands, legs and chest from time to time. All of these things allow us to move inside of ourselves a little deeper.
Why Is It Important?
This practice is literally a gift to our nervous system. Our lives have become so hectic, and we’re literally on overdrive a larger percentage of time than we’re not. This excites the nervous system, pushing us into a kind of fight-or-flight stress response that can be damaging to our bodies, our health and our well-being. A restorative practice activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body to slow down. What I’m saying is that this practice is literally beneficial to our overall health.
We get to disconnect even if it’s only for an hour. This is so imperative in a world that’s overly obsessive with being on the grid, connected to a phone, computer or television. In the same breath, we also get to connect, but this time to ourselves. These slow poses allow us to explore our mind and body at a deeper level than we do all day, all week, all month or more than we even have in our entire lives.
You become more mindful. There is absolutely zero chance that when we’re moving from the moment we wake up, until the moment we go to bed (where we are now connected to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or our favorite Netflix series) that we can take deep notice of our emotional state and the messages that our bodies are sending us regarding fatigue, an illness that’s presenting itself, pain, tightness, etc. Incorporating a restorative yoga practice into our weekly schedule can help us get more in tune with our bodies. Actually, it helps us become more mindful of everything around us. Our needs as well as those around us.
This is where you get to nurture yourself. For me, this practice allows me to get to know myself again. In this practice I’m not a friend, a daughter, a yoga teacher or a girlfriend, I’m just Jenna. It gives me the opportunity to check in with my thoughts and my body; to allow my thoughts a safe place to process, and to recognize the places in my body that are feeling particularly good and the areas that are feeling the opposite. I’m taught to breathe through these uncomfortable moments, whether they be thoughts or physical pain and to notice that I have the control to lessen these uncomfortable moments, to recognize that in time they will pass. I’ve learned that through the tools I was born with I can get through anything.
What Does It Look Like? How Do I Do It?
It would be beneficial if you could take a class at a studio by a trained professional but if you can’t do that then try to do it at home. I would suggest getting a few props as this practice works best with the use of props. Here are some things you should try to get your hands on:
- One or preferably two blocks
- At least one bolster
- Several yoga blankets
- At least one yoga strap
You can actually find things around your home that could serve as a prop as well, like a pillow, towel, a few books, a man’s tie (in the place of a strap), etc. Get creative, but do try to have some props, whatever those might be. Craigslist is a good place to look if you don’t mind using something that’s not new and Amazon always has really good deals as well.
Try to incorporate at least one restorative yoga practice into your schedule once per week.
See the link below for some restorative yoga poses I think you might enjoy. It says its for reseting after a busy holiday season but you really can do these poses anytime of the year, I promise. Remember, you’re doing this for yourself and its important to take care of yourself. Without your health you have nothing. Take care of you.