Restorative practices are a way to reset the nervous system in order to counter the effects of stress. Our bodies are designed to regularly have deep rest. This calms the nervous system, flushes stress hormones, and rebalances internal processes like digestion. Without enough restoration, our bodies can become locked into chronic stress patterns that create dysfunction in our physical, mental, and emotional lives.
Restorative practices create a cascade of health benefits in the body. The heart rate will slow, the breath will deepen, and blood pressure will regulate. Common areas of muscular tension like the diaphragm, pelvis, and neck and shoulders will begin to relax and release. As the musculoskeletal tension along the spine releases, the vertebrae will be able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system will also re-regulate itself, which helps to turn down the volume of pain signals, and other systems of the body like digestion, circulation, and circadian rhythms, will also reset and rebalance.
Restorative practice can be done in a classroom setting, like a restorative movement class. Props and blankets are often used to support the body, and then the goal is to allow the body to be completely held by gravity instead of muscle tension. Paying attention to the breath and coordinating the breath with gentle, deliberate movement also helps you move into restorative mode.
Bodywork and acupuncture treatments also have restorative effects. Receiving bodywork and acupuncture treatments cues the nervous system to switch out of stress mode, reduce pain signals, and begin tissue repair. This restorative effect increases the other benefits of the session, working with your bodyworker to release muscle tension or making it easier to rebalance and regulate systems of the body through acupuncture.
Restorative practice is a proven way to offer the body and mind opportunities for deep rest. This rest then turns the complex systems of the body away from stress, creating space for deep healing and rebalancing.