As a full time yoga teacher - balancing personal practice and teaching can often seem out of reach. By the end of a long teaching day and a personal asana and meditation practice, unwinding by just tuning out is incredibly tempting. But, as has been proven by deeper sleeps and a more relaxed nature - ending my day as mindfully as I began it can often have longer lasting benefits. My personal restorative and yin practice is the way I recharge my system, stave off soreness and become more in-tune with a mindful, present life.
Restorative yoga is an introspective practice, similar to that of meditation. It teaches us to relinquish control and remain in a position of support (usually by aid of many props), helps us to examine our inner landscape without evaluation and helps us to regulate the relaxation response in our body. I have personally experienced and watched the varying therapeutic qualities of restorative yoga transform my quality of sleep, students willingness to shift their immediate response and overall adjust my mindfulness on and off the mat. Not quite convinced? Here are 3 reasons to give it a go.
1. Helps to regulate the nervous system
One of the most potent parts of restorative yoga comes from the control of the breath. As the breath is the only part of our autonomic nervous system that we can consciously control it becomes the quick fix factor to relaxation. The slow pace of the class and focus on long lingering breaths triggers the parasympathetic nervous response, our rest, restore and digest response. The calming effects learned on the mat in these subtle positions can oftentimes be carried on through our day, setting us up for a less reactive thought pattern both internally and externally and can be very effective in preparing the body for a deep and restful sleep.
2. Supports mindful behavior
One of my favorite parts of restorative yoga is its ability to expand our awareness of the inner landscape of our own body. Because you are in a relaxed state for longer period of times, the practice of restorative yoga is incredibly introspective. Awareness of the physical and mental sensations both internally and externally set you up for more mindful behavior both on and off the mat. Research done by the National Institute of Health show restorative yoga can also be a contributing ingredient in weight loss programs.
3. Fosters a sensation of support
It is very easy in today’s society to feel bombarded with messages that tell you - you are not enough. Restorative yoga provides a safe haven for your mind, as well as, physical support for your body. The many props used in restorative postures encourage relaxation and aid in the recall of memories of your true essence and sense of security. The power of restorative yoga lies in its ability to remind the practitioner of your true self -healing properties.