A Restorative Practice- The milk and cookies of yoga?
Take yourself back to the end of the school day and the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air. Initially there is a level of excitement from knowing there is a treat in your future. Then your mind settles into a place of comfort. You know they were made with love; you are in a safe place and just the thought of them can feel like a hug. When you bite into the warm, sweet cookie any troubles or frustrations from the day melt like the gooey chocolate. Balancing the sweetness of the cookie is a cold glass of milk to wash away any other worries.
How does eating a chocolate chip cookie relate to yoga?
All those wonderful feelings you may experience from that chocolate chip cookie can be experienced from a Restorative Yoga practice. The excitement of walking into a safe, comfortable space without any distractions. Sixty to seventy-five minutes of just you. A practice about effortless rest that helps you reset your mind and your body. Your space set with pillows and blankets, with soft music playing. As you soften into your first posture, fully supported, the “Ah” sigh of release can be felt in the room.
How is Restorative Yoga practiced?
Restorative yoga is a practice of 5-6 postures that are fully supported with pillows, bolsters, blocks and blankets. The experience usually begins with a room kept around 78 degrees, dim or candle lit, with soft instrumental music playing in the background. The space is intimate, with mat settings for 10-12 practitioners per a teacher. As class begins, the soothing voice of the teacher will guide you into your first supported posture that has been pre-set for you to relax into. The teacher will then usually add additional guidance to help you release your day with breathing techniques or guided visualizations. Each posture is held between 5- 15 minutes, possibly up to 20. Then the soothing voice of the teacher will return to gently guide you with minimal movement to the next posture and then return to guide you to the next until you reach the final posture, Savasana.
Do you sleep in class?
It is possible, but not the purpose of the practice. Think of the practice as conscious relaxation. When you practice you want to stay present to your experience instead of slipping into sleep. On occasion, when given the opportunity to relax and release stress, the body completely releases into a yoga nap. The teacher will only disrupt your needed rest if you begin to snore, for your own comfort. While every posture is supported with props to help you release tension, that does not necessarily mean you won’t feel anything. The sequence of postures typically includes a forward fold, light twist, a gentle heart opener/ backbend, and a side lengthening posture. You may feel some stretch sensation, though this is not the goal of this practice.
What are the benefits of a Restorative practice?
The benefits of a Restorative practice can be experienced during, immediately after and well into the rest of your day. They may include:
- Relaxing your mind and body
- Quieting your nervous system
- Reducing chronic pain and stress hormones
- Improving sleeping and quality of sleep
- Release muscle tension, increasing flexibility and mobility
Compared to having milk and cookies daily, a Restorative yoga practice only comes with the benefits, no carbs, no calories, supports a healthy lifestyle. If you can get all the joy and comforts of milk and cookies by coming to your mat, can you imagine how your day to day could transform? This practice can be added to your regular yoga routine, fitness routine or the only practice that you need right now.
Transform Power Yoga offers Restorative yoga twice a week and a Yin to Restorative class weekly. May 13-15, we have a Restorative workshop/Teacher Training. If you are new to our community, we would love to discuss what we have to offer to you and the practice that may be most beneficial for you. Check us out at TPYoga.com or contact us at info@TPYoga.com. All new members are eligible for our $65 Intro Month offer for unlimited yoga.