What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing and revitalizing practice that encourages rest and resets the body, mind and spirit. Deep relaxation is achieved when the body feels it is in a nurturing and supportive environment. This type of environment engages the parasympathetic nervous system allowing for improved digestion and the reduction of muscle tension, chronic stress, fatigue, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. While the body relaxes in restorative yoga poses, health is promoted throughout all of the body systems.
Restorative yoga facilitates this deep relaxation through the use of yoga props including blankets, straps, pillows, eye bags, wedges, and blocks which enable well-supported postures.
In addition, sequences are designed to optimize relaxation by promoting healthy spinal motion. A well-rounded series will include backbends, forward folds, and twists in both directions. At the conclusion a restorative yoga practice is often an inverted pose which can aide in a variety of health benefits including reduction of blood pressure, heart rate and fluid retention.
Another benefit of restorative yoga is experienced by the organs. As poses alternate from forward bend to backbend and rotation right and then left, organs are rinsed free of waste and rejuvenated with healthy blood flow.
Through regular practice of restorative yoga comes the blissful juicy moments of a balanced mind, body and spirit. Restorative yoga can be practiced at any time throughout the day. Preferably, one would start a day with restorative poses and yogic breathing (pranayama). Together, these practices wake up the body and energize the mind to jump-start the new day. Alternatively, these yoga poses are also beneficial at the end of the day to slow down the mind and clear the thoughts of the day before going to bed. This helps the body prepare for sleep so that sleep will be deep and restful.
Judith Hanson Lasater, a physical therapist and yoga instructor, has written various well-known books on restorative yoga that have helped countless individuals remove tension from the body and mind and restore energy and joy. Having taught Iyengar Yoga and Restorative Yoga since 1971, Lasater has been a strong advocate for the numerous benefits of Restorative Yoga.
Restorative Yoga Poses