In 2014 I qualified as a Relax and Renew Restorative Yoga Trainer under the tutorage of Judith Hanson Lasater and have been delighted to assist Judith on her Relax and Renew courses in London. Restorative Yoga is deeply nurturing, it holds you and cherishes the precious being that you are. And in that cocoon of rest it brings you back to who you were and opens your mind and body to a place of deep calm.
“it helped to quieten my Vata (busy) mind. It worked far better than meditation for me”
In restorative yoga you are passively supported with blankets, bolsters and props in order that you are not having to use your own energy to receive the energy of yoga. Because you are completely held and supported by the props your body …followed shortly after by your mind, lets go of the tension of trying to ‘be’ and just ‘is’. We then can restore our connection with that part of our mind that is in stillness and peace.
The restorative poses are gentle yet powerfully releasing. They focus more on opening than stretching. In this place of secure surrender the body’s inner intelligence knows it is safe to let go, and so deep tension is released. When we let go of the tense squeeze that stress creates in our body, it improves the circulation of blood which then both nourishes and cleanses our organs more efficiently.
Although the stretch is milder than regular yoga, this allows you to stay much longer in each pose. This invites a gentle graduated stretch whilst the organs are more open to the increased blood supply, allowing them to soak up their much needed nourishment.
As these poses reach deeply into the nervous system, regular practice can release chronic patterns of tension, improve immune function and return the body and mind to a state of balance.
The angle and position of the postures is significant, as they activate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for our rest and digest functions.
Restorative yoga sequences are created to move the spine in all directions. These movements follow the yogic wisdom that well-being is enhanced by a healthy spine. a restorative practice also includes an inverted pose, which reverses the effects of gravity. This may be simply putting the legs on a bolster or pillow, but the effects are extremely beneficial . We stand or sit most of the day, blood and lymph fluid accumulate in the lower extremities, so by changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is improved.
Psychobiologist and yoga teacher Roger Cole, Ph.D., consultant to the University of California, in sleep research and biological rhythms, has done preliminary research on the effects of inverted poses. He found that they dramatically alter hormone levels, thus reducing brain arousal, blood pressure, and fluid retention. He attributes these benefits to a slowing of the heart rate and dilation of the blood vessels in the upper body that comes from reversing the effects of gravity.
The deep relaxation of restorative yoga benefits all the organ systems of the body. Results that have been measured following deep relaxation are:
- the reduction of blood pressure
- reduction of serum triglycerides and blood sugar levels in the blood
- the increase of the “good cholesterol” levels,
- improvement in digestion, fertility and elimination
- the reduction of muscle tension
- reduction of insomnia and generalized fatigue
- relieve the effects of chronic stress