Restorative Yoga is a therapeutic style of yoga which utilises props and supports to make it easier for the body to get into certain poses, and thus, surrender to the pose. Practicing poses using props provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation. The more your body is supported in the poses the deeper the sense of relaxation. Relaxation is a state in which there is no movement, no effort and the brain is quiet. Typically, Restorative poses are sustained for ten minutes or for as long as you are comfortable.
Why should I practice Restorative Yoga?
In a chronically stressed state, quality of life and perhaps life itself is at risk. The body’s capacity to heal itself can be compromised, inhibiting recovery from injury or illness, or it may create new illness or injury, including high blood pressure, ulcers, back pain, immune dysfunction and depression.
The antidote to stress is relaxation. Restorative yoga focuses on relaxation, renewal, effortlessness and ease. Blankets, bolsters, straps, and other props safely support the body in various postures which allows the body to move towards a state of balance. This practice soothes your nervous system, helps you quiet your mind and invites you to release deeply held tension.
Restorative poses cultivate the habit of attention. The mind should always focus on the breath. When you notice your mind wandering bring it back to the breath. You can also focus on where and how you hold tension. Then use the breath as a tool to release the tension. Breathe to the area of tension and on the exhale release the gripping. During these periods of deep relaxation you will be healed and nurtured from within.
What is the History of Restorative Yoga?
Judith Lasater says ~ The development of these poses is credited to B.K.S. Iyengar, of Pune, India. Author of the contemporary classic Light on Yoga and numerous other books, Iyengar has been teaching yoga for more than sixty years. Widely recognised as a worldwide authority, he is one of the most creative teachers of yoga today.
Iyengar’s early teaching experience showed him how pain or injury can result from a student straining in a yoga pose. He experimented with “props,” modifying poses until the student could practice without strain. Iyengar also explored how these modified poses could help people recover from illness or injury. It is because of his creativity that the restorative poses in my book (Relax and Renew) most of which have been developed or directly inspired by him are such powerful tools to reduce stress and restore health.
When you can experience the deliciousness of a Restorative pose for yourself you will know why I am grateful to both B.K.S. Iyengar and to Judith Hanson Lasater for their work in this area. We could all benefit from Restorative yoga.