Restorative practices balance the effects of stress on the body. Stress serves an important role in keeping us alive through threatening circumstances, but it is also a complex biological response that is designed to be temporary and flushed out of the system when the threat has passed. Restorative practices are able to help with that after-stress reset.
Restorative practices use techniques that create space for deep rest in the body and mind. Often, the goal is to create conditions where tension can be released in layers, allowing the body to be held by gravity instead of internal force.
As physical tension releases, the heart rate begins to slow and the breath deepens. The nervous system begins to change modes away from stress and adrenaline responses. Digestion improves and the body sends more nourishment to tissues so that they can repair and heal. The more muscular tension releases, the more blood and oxygen is able to flow through the body.
Restorative practice also nourishes the mind. Deep rest resets the nervous system, which helps calm anxiety. Shifting the nervous system away from stress mode also decreases pain levels, as the nervous system is able to turn the volume down on the pain signals themselves.
Releasing stress and restoring the body and mind to a calm, nourishing state is a key to maintaining and creating health. Restorative practice can take many forms, including classes, bodywork, mindfulness, or other therapies. With enough restoration, we are able to prevent becoming locked into chronic stress patterns and the dysfunction they cause.