Feb 14, 2012

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Restorative Yoga

Although all forms of yoga practice can have far-reaching physical and psychological benefits, restorative yoga is intended to supercede those levels of relaxation and renewal. Yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater has taught restorative yoga for many years and notes that the practice helps people relax and rest deeply. Cyndi Lee of Yoga Journal warns against entering a restorative practice with preconceived notions of what it should feel like or even the length of time you should practice. Lee advises, “Practice intuitively instead, letting your breath be your guide.”


Restorative yoga is used to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for balancing the body. By stimulating this system, you experience a lower heart rate and blood pressure.This also helps stimulate your immune and endocrine systems in healthy way. When you experience stress or feel overwhelmed, it the parasympathetic nervous system that restores balance. According to Lasater, the deep relaxation response elicited by restorative yoga also results in benefit to internal organs.



Expert Insight

Dr. David Spiegel, author of “Living Beyond Limits,” says that medicine is now learning that physical problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, can be influenced by psychological interventions, such as relaxation training, which includes restorative yoga. Spiegel reports that “mind and body are connected and must work together, and this should be a powerful asset in treating medical illness.”


Many believe that the simple act of ample sleep will provide the relaxation benefits of restorative yoga. However, it is important to note that restorative yoga focuses on the use of restful postures supported by props to experience relaxation in a wakeful state. This kind of rest is different than sleep, and it provides the body an opportunity to heal and replenish energy stores.


The use of props facilitates a deeper sense of relaxation while in the poses. Although all are not necessary for every class, essential props for restorative yoga include yoga blocks, straps, blankets, bolsters, balls, chairs, a wall, sandbags and an eye bag.


Yoga Journal article “Yoga to the Rescue” lists three basic restorative yoga poses that can help you get started in a restorative practice. The three poses suggested were simple supported backbend, legs up on the wall pose and supported forward fold. It is believed that you will feel the benefits of these postures immediately, and they all can be practiced at home.





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