Restorative Yoga is a deeply relaxing form of yoga which supports emotional balance and cultivates physical and mental wellbeing through a series of held restful postures using props for support.
Through letting go of all muscular effort and cultivating the skill of conscious relaxation, the body and mind are taken into a calm restful state. This helps to reduce physical tension and feelings of stress and anxiety, whilst stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) to allow the body to focus on long-term health functions such as digestion, elimination, reproduction, growth and repair and immunity.
WHY RESTORATIVE YOGA?
We all lead stressful, busy and overstimulated lives and we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to take time out to rest, to the extent that many of us have difficulty switching off and winding down. When we are stressed or anxious, the sympathetic nervous system is activated which stimulates the fight-or-flight response; a state which was historically there to release energy in our bodies to allow us to either fight or run away from predators. In this state, hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin are released, speeding up the heart rate and sending blood flow to the brain and the major skeletal muscle groups, giving the body a burst of energy in readiness for fight or flight. And in turn, energy is taken away from other bodily functions such as digestion and reproduction.
The problem is that this acute stress response, which was previously activated only in times of danger, is in today’s world a common state. We live in an always-on society where our stress response is constantly activated by our hectic schedules, demanding jobs, chaotic car or tube journeys and constant stimulation from the various forms of media that surround us. The more the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) is active, the more its patterns are wired into place and eventually it becomes our default mode. The more hyper-aroused our nervous system, the higher our nervous system set-point, and the more difficulty we’ll have finding balance and calm.
Restorative Yoga creates the conditions for the body’s relaxation response to kick in by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest). The parasympathetic nervous system acts a ‘dimmer switch’ and turns down the fight-or-flight response, taking the body into a more calm and relaxed state. This allows the body to rest-and-digest, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and diverting blood supply towards other functions such as the digestive and reproductive systems. The more we use this ‘dimmer switch’ over time, the more we can change our nervous system’s set point to cultivate emotional balance, allowing us to more easily access a sense of deep, inner calm.
The benefits of Restorative Yoga include:
ANYBODY CAN PRACTISE
You don’t need any prior experience of yoga to practise Restorative Yoga, and you don’t need to be flexible, fit or strong.
WHAT TO EXPECT
You will be guided through a sequence of Restorative Yoga postures where your body will always be supported by bolsters, blocks, bricks and blankets. There will also sometimes be some breathwork (pranayama) and guided meditation to elicit a state of deep relaxation, allowing your mind and body to release.
I am an award-winning yoga teacher with over 8 years of teaching experience. I qualified as a Yoga Alliance 200-hour certified teacher in Hatha Yoga in 2014. In 2018, I completed the triyoga 300-hour Advanced Teacher Training Programme and I am now qualified as a Yoga Alliance 500-hour certified teacher. I went on to train for an additional 300 hours in Vinyasa Flow Yoga with Jason Crandell, which I completed in April 2020.
I qualified as a Restorative Yoga teacher in 2018, having completed 33 hours of in-depth study of Restorative Yoga with Anna Ashby at triyoga.
SEE YOU ON THE MAT!
It’s best to wear comfortable clothing that you can move freely in. You don’t need footwear or socks as yoga is done with bare feet. To start with, you'll just need a mat and a bolster, and it’s also nice to have a blanket and warm clothing so you’re nice and snug.