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Restorative yoga has become one of my favorite types of yoga as I’ve gotten older and busier. In fact, most of the time if I practice yoga on my own, I end of just falling into this type of yoga…more of a quiet lounging, meditation really. 🙂 However Restorative Yoga provides WAY more benefits than just feeling like we’ve gotten a little cat -nap
Judith Lasater’s book, Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times is the bible for Restorative Yoga. She provides initial guidance into this field of active rest and her Yoga teacher training program is held in high regard in the yoga community.
Restorative yoga is a practice of total relaxation. Poses are held for long durations of time, sometimes up to 10 minutes per posture, allowing you to fully sink into relaxation. This practice promotes activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to balance out our fight or flight response that is WAY too over active in our modern society.
There has also been evidence that restorative yoga helps with weight loss. Say what? How does a passive yoga practice help you lose weight? Well, remember the fight or flight response I mentioned above? That’s our sympathetic reaction to stress. Our heart rate increases, and we get ready to fight or get the hell out of a stressful situation. In our current lifestyles, we seem to be in a static state of stress…even if it’s at a low level. This continual state of excitement leads to a constant production of a stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol helps us immensely in an intense situation, but being in an over productive state isn’t super for our bodies. It WILL help you keep any extra weight on! A study published in 2013 found that restorative yoga can help practitioners lose weight. Weird huh? But by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, and actually resting, we decrease the amount of cortisol production. This allows for a balancing of the hormone system which leads to weight loss.
Plus it feels so damn good! After a restorative yoga practice, I feel balanced like I just took the most productive nap in my life!
20 Minute Restorative Yoga Practice
This week’s yoga practice can be varied depending on how much time you have. It’s a good idea to do all of the poses, just vary the length of time in each posture as you have time. Each pose mobilizes the spine in all directions.
This is a practice that you’ll want to do in a quiet space. Either before the kids get up, in a quiet place at lunch time, nap time or after the kids go to bed. Use an alarm on your phone, but make sure it’s a quiet tone and you can even place it under a pillow to subdue it. so it isn’t too startling when it chimes.
Really settle into this practice. It’s meant to be a grounding experience that decreases stress and promotes silence. There is no need to manipulate your breath, just let it come and go naturally. You will want to have your eyes closed for each pose. If you notice that your mind begins to race, just gently note what you’re feeling, or thinking about, and let that shit go. Return your focus to the gentleness of your breath. Your mind will surely stray again in a few moments. The practice is in just letting all that mental mind stuff keep on keepin on. 🙂
Enjoy this Restorative Yoga Practice and be sure to let me know what you think!