What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative Yoga is a form of ‘active relaxation’, where we put the body into 100% supported, comfortable positions, allowing the muscles to relax while stimulating internal organs like the liver, heart and kidneys. As the body relaxes, the mind follows its lead. The positions are held for a lot longer than in a traditional yoga class allowing us to relax on a mental level. To make the decision in the mind to not sleep but relax.

What’s in a name?

Restore means to return to it’s original or usable condition. Yoga means to join the body, the mind and the soul. Restorative Yoga by definition is a practice which restores your body, mind and soul to their usable condition.

How does it work? Stress management

Most of us feel we must push forward through our stress in order to be productive. We go, go, go! Then we get sick and HAVE to take a break, or we go on holiday and collapse (or get sick on holiday!), or we have a breakdown. We don’t have any methods of relaxing in between these two extreme states of being. Sometimes we may not even realise that we are in a state of agitation. It’s been so constant for so long, it now feels normal. We need to learn to manage our stress and this is where restorative yoga comes in.

What is stress? Why do we have it?

It is not uncommon today to see people living with persistent or regularly reoccurring stress but what is it? We have naturally in us our Fight or Flight Response this allows us, as the name implies, to quickly make a decision to either fight a threat or run from it. The physical response happens before the decision is made; adrenaline and other hormones run through the veins, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into action, senses are sharpened and POP! a decision is made. The problem occurs when the activator for this physical response is not life or death, as it might have been in the early days of man, but just how we live on a regular basis.

I MUST meet this deadline.

I’m going to be late, AGAIN.

Everyone is counting on me.

Before you know it the side effects of stress start to set in – increased blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, digestive issues, mental frustration and irritation – all the way up to the potentially life threatening illnesses and diseases these systems can cause. These side effects at first may just feel like being constantly tired, run down, maybe a loss of appetite or sleep.

Be consistent

But you can stop this constant stress right now by activating the Relaxation Response through the parasympathetic nervous system. Change can come from constant, regular action. If you regularly relax in this way your daily stresses will decrease and you will feel more at ease.

Guest post written by Kayla McCormack