Restorative Yoga is supporting the body with props into deep states of Relaxation. (aka: ‘Dessert Yoga’) – achieving Yoga Nidra (Yogic-sleep) - Designed to heal the body, by tricking the nervous system into rest mode (engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body down) – effectively lowering the cortisol levels in the body. - When the body is fully supported, all of the bodies systems effectively relax - Postures are held anywhere from 5-20 minutes - This is done by following physiological rules for relaxation:
The body must be warm and still, the environment must be dark and quiet There must be no muscular activation in the body All joints must be supported in flexion The hands and feet must be thermally neutral There must be no visual stimulus Chin below forehead Wrists above elbows The body must ‘flow like a river’ on the props, having both enough support and enough space There must be no discomfort in the body, while in the posture
- Eye pillows are mandatory: not only because they block-out light, but also because the weight of the eye-pillow on the orbits of the eyes and the eyeballs, stimulate the baroreceptors in the brain that calms the body down.
- Blankets are a necessary prop, as the body temperature will drop and must remain warm
- Socks are recommended, if you have a tendency towards cold feet
The human nervous system consists of two parts: The sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic is like a gas pedal, and the parasympathetic is the brakes. In our modern society, with our smartphones, ceaseless work hours and gross lack of ‘down-time’…. We have ended-up consistently on the ‘gas-pedal’, and the human body was simply not designed for this type of consistent strain.
Our bodies were designed to function optimally via alternating periods of work and rest. Do you really think that it is any coincidence that alongside the rapid advancement of technology and loss of actual ‘weekends’, we have seen an almost viral increase of the rates of insomnia, IBS, chronic-fatigue, anxiety, depression, migraines, chronic back-pain, auto-immune diseases and nerve disorders like fibromyalgia?
Twenty years ago, we may have experienced periods of stress. Today we are under constant stress – constantly burning out our adrenal glands and raising our cortisol levels , effectively lowering our immune systems.
By employing the physiological principles listed above, Restorative Yoga effectively tricks our body to activate our Parasympathetic Nervous system, and releases all of its calming effects on our bodies. In the practice of Yoga, we understand that the body gains just as much by conscious relaxation as it does from concerted effort and engagement.