Every single one of us could use a dose of slowing down. The stresses of everyday life seem to build more and more all of the time. I’m sure it’s not a secret that stress takes a major toll on our bodies, causing anxiety, depression and even major medical problems. Each of us, no matter what level of yoga we’re practicing, or where our health stands could benefit from restorative yoga and relaxation practices.
Restorative practices incorporate the use of props and prolonged holding of poses. It provides a deep practice of connecting the body and senses with breath. By quieting the mind, slowing down and holding poses for an extended period of time this practice allows our thoughts and feelings to land, giving us time to understand these messages and recognize what they need. It allows us to disconnect from the world, moves the body inwards and can even prepare us for meditation. Restorative yoga triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes referred to as the rest and digest system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles. We live in a world of go, go, go and we’re surrounded by high levels of pressure and stress, our bodies are constantly in a state of flight-or-fight in order to make it through the day. This is detrimental to our physical body as well as our mental state. Restoratives can promote a feeling of safety and allows you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself and nurture yourself. We literally need rest to survive and to recover fully from the stresses of life. Without rest we become rundown and ill. Restoratives have been proven to improve sleep and promote shutting off the mind, by doing this we find growth, deep relaxation and an overall sense of well-being. They’ve even been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and may also help cancer patients fight depression and fatigue.[x]