Practicing yoga has been life-changing for me and incorporating Restorative Yoga into my practice has taken the transformation to an even deeper level. I could easily write five rambling pages on what I’ve learned from Restorative Yoga, but instead I’ve narrowed it down to five concise lessons.
- Relaxation is a skill
Before I started practicing Restorative Yoga, I thought relaxation was something that automatically happened when I sat down on the couch after work, lay down to sleep or lay out in the sun. I’ve since learned that on a physiological level my body may not be anywhere close to relaxed in those situations. Relaxation requires intention and attention. In Restorative Yoga, we place the body in a comfortable supported position and then consciously shift the body into a Relaxation Response, a physiological state characterized by a slower heart rate and breathing rate, lower blood pressure and slower brain wave patterns.
- Being is as productive as doing
In her book Relax & Renew, Judith Lasater writes, “Restorative poses are poses of being rather than doing.”
When I first started practicing Restorative Yoga, I was constantly trying to get something “more” out of the practice – usually in the form of a deep stretch. I was seeking productivity in the pose. What I have come to understand is how much there is to be gained from non-doing in the pose. The stillness and the slowing down of the Restorative Yoga practice allows our bodies to devote time and energy to healing and restoring natural processes in the body.
- My body is the expert on my body
Practicing Restorative Yoga helped me to realize how often I looked outward to find more ease in my body. I had a well-developed pattern of seeking the advice of an expert to heal and recover from injury. Restorative Yoga has empowered me to start considering the expert on my body to be my body. I am learning to turn inward for answers, and Restorative Yoga allows me to find enough stillness to listen to what my body has to say.
- More ease is accessible in every moment
At first glance, Restorative Yoga might seem like laying around on a bunch of bolsters. But as your relaxation skills and body awareness deepen, the practice starts to spread out into the rest of your life – and it is nothing short of amazing! Whether you are holding a Warrior 2 pose or carrying your groceries, Restorative Yoga teaches you to be aware of how you can find more ease in your body.
- Ease can be found without movement
I originally came to the practice of yoga because of persistent pain in my right hip, and this pain still bothers me when I sit for a long period of time. Historically, I would fidget and stretch trying to find more comfort and ease, but Restorative Yoga has taught me to explore the possibility of finding ease without movement – and that has been far more successful than fidgeting ever was!