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Learn To Relax More

Relaxing... something that ALL of us need a little more of from time to time. For most of us, we are so used to functioning in a go-go-go society that it's often we forget to stop, slow down, and do nothing. No matter what the reasons for NOT doing it are, the truth is - we all NEED to do this!



Why Everyone Needs Restorative Yoga

So what exactly is Restorative Yoga anyway? Simply put, it is a style of yoga that encourages physical, mental and emotional relaxation. Restorative yoga is practiced at a slower pace and focuses on getting into supportive shapes for a longer period of time with stillness and deep breathing. It gives us time to truly settle in, allow ourselves to just be, and train the nervous system to relax {activating the parasympathetic nervous system}. In this practice, we are training ourselves to understand it's ok to remain calm, stay still, and just be.

Think about the 5-8 minute savasana at the end of a yoga class. Usually this is just enough time for us to stop wiggling around, stop moving, and slightly slide into a state of stillness. Savasana, while a critical part of any yoga practice, is a simple form of Restorative Yoga.


We know that during this time we begin to feel relaxed. However, in order to truly tell our brain that we are safe, and for it to switch off our stress response and turn on the relaxation response, it generally takes 20 minutes. This is why savasana at the end of a yoga class is just enough to ground us after class to enable us to move on with our day.


You might also notice during this brief 5-8 minutes of relaxation at the end of your practice you do begin to release into the support of the aerial hammock or the ground. But sometimes you might notice in that short amount of time that you're still holding onto something inside. This is a normal feeling and when you regularly practice Restorative Yoga, the easier it will become to reach true relaxation quicker.


By repeatedly practicing Restorative Yoga, and working up to staying in a shape for 20 minutes {or sometimes longer}, the more you expose your nervous system to a truly relaxed state. It is here where your body reaches a state of rest and digest {you feel more grounded, relaxed, and generally at ease}. Not only will you eventually notice that during your shorter 5-8 minute savasana at the end of class, you'll notice that in stressful situations you are able to re-establish your true rest and digest state more quickly!


Rest, Breathe and Just Be

To make the best of a Restorative Yoga practice, there are two things we focus on: the breath and feeling supported. These are two critical elements to help us soak in all of the benefits from this practice.


First, the breath. Restorative Yoga leans a lot on our breath {more than any other practice}. The reason for this is because in order for us to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and slow down, we must slow down the breath. We often have habitual breathing patterns within us that are a result of the constant fight or flight mode we function in and the muscles we use to breath are constantly tense and not in a relaxed state.

To allow our breath to flow, versus being forced in and out, is to make space. This is one of the primary reasons why we put so much emphasis on our breath in this practice and also on using props.


By allowing props to support us, to hold us up, we enable full, deep, natural breathing to occur. The deeper, and more naturally our breath flows, we're able to create an environment within our own body for relaxation to occur. We're able allow the muscles, nervous system and even the mind to just be.


Benefits

The beauty of Restorative Yoga is that we don’t have to engage our muscles. It is a practice that challenges us to do the exact opposite, to soften and relax. And, besides the benefits of calming our nervous system, when we soften and relax, we can actually achieve quite a bit in the physical body as well, such as increased flexibility. We accomplish things such as this by releasing tension, focusing on the breath and leaning into the support of our props. Here are just a few of our favorite benefits of a Restorative Yoga practice:

  • Deeply relaxes the body

  • Stills a busy mind

  • Releases muscular tension, improving mobility and flexibility

  • Improves capacity for healing and balancing

  • Balances the nervous system

  • Boosts the immune system

  • Develops qualities of compassion and understanding toward others and self


Restorative Yoga at Elevate

For us, Restorative Yoga is a way of accessing deep relaxation; of understanding that sometimes doing nothing (allowing ourselves to just be) can be one of the most powerful, supporting and healing practices of all. We fully embrace the roots of this practice and incorporate blocks, bolsters and the aerial hammock for ultimate support, and add in the enhanced healing properties of harmonic sound and guided meditation techniques.


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