Restorative Yoga is about relaxing into each pose, allowing the earth to hold you completely. Using props like blankets, bolsters, and blocks, the body is fully supported so that you can release layer after layer of tension. This resets the nervous system toward rest and digest mode, which creates space for healing and thriving.
Restorative yoga is also a form of mindfulness practice. It invites the mind to become more and more aware of where the body is holding tension. This helps to connect the body with mind, and uses neuroplasticity to cultivate stronger paths to relaxation in the nervous system. As we bring awareness to tension and then release it, we create ease and find room to change the habits of unnecessary tension that we hold in our daily lives.
Conscious relaxation creates a cascade of health benefits in the body. Heart rate slows, breathing deepens, and blood pressure lowers. Tension begins to drain out of the diaphragm, the pelvis, and the neck and shoulders. Muscles relax, allowing nutrients, oxygen, and blood to nourish and repair the tissue. As tension releases along the spine, vertebra make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system begins to turn down the volume on pain signals and various complex systems of the body better regulate themselves, like the digestive system, circulatory system, and sleep patterns.
In many ways, gentle is the new advanced. Restorative yoga is a gentle, subtle practice that creates profound results. Using the pull of gravity instead of muscular effort, it speaks to the healing processes of the body in a different, and very effective, way. It may be gentle, but it is not always easy to cultivate mindful relaxation.