Welcome to Restorative Yoga by Jenn Stanley
How often do you run into a friend and they ask, “how’s it going?” and your go-to answer is “I’m so stressed out!”? Work! School! Errands! Don’t forget answering texts and emails that find us wherever we are 24 hours a day! The list is endless.
Let’s face it, it’s impossible for anyone to go full tilt continuously without suffering some negative consequences that can include injury, illness, exhaustion, and anxiety. I’m not suggesting that you quit your job and leave everything to go live in Paris, surviving on baguettes and random cheeses (ok, well, maybe we’ll research that idea more later....), but I will tell you, including some self-care in your life, can make a world of difference in how you feel and how you function.
Welcome to restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is a slow, passive style of yoga designed to help you turn inward, focus on your breath and come to a point of complete relaxation. Aided by a variety of props, a 60-minute class will generally include 5-7 poses held for longer periods of time to help you reduce stress and achieve a feeling of calm. (Restorative yoga should not be confused with Yin yoga, which also involves long held poses. "Restorative Yoga is a very gentle practice that does not try to stress the tissues deeply and does not take the student outside her normal comfort zone. Yin Yoga challenges the student and will deeply stress the tissues.” Yin Yoga Yinsights, "Yin or Restorative Yoga", Oct. 2012 http://www.yinyoga.com/Newsletter_volume13.php
The key to restorative yoga is the liberal use of props (Actually, the key to restorative yoga is breath, but because breath is key to other things like being alive, I’ll skip breath in favour of props). Props (bolsters, blankets and blocks of varying thickness) on, under and around the body provide the support that allows your muscles to relax.
Imagine a room bathed in soft candlelight, inhaling deeply and exhaling slooooooooowly, you lay back on a bolster, your head is cradled, hands resting gently on your belly, a rolled blanket under your knees to release tension from your low back, and you are warm and cozy hugged in a blanket…. ahhhhh. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep during a restorative class. If feeling so chill that you can nap in class isn’t relaxation, I don’t know what is! But don’t worry, your teacher will wake you to go home after class….probably. ;)
The residual effects post class are numerous. Many students find it is easier to fall asleep and stay asleep because they are able to focus on breath and calming the mind when shutting down for the night. You may feel your stress level decrease, not only in the short term after class, but over the long term with a regular restorative practice. As well, you can improve your flexibility because the muscles and joints are able to deeply relax thanks to the props that provide support to, and keep the body from over extending to get into a pose.
If you’ve never tried a restorative class, I highly recommend joining us and find out what you’re missing. Check out the schedule at www.eastuptownyoga.com for restorative classes on the schedule. Be sure to pre-book as restorative classes are popular and fill up quickly.
Side Ship Pose