A practice that goes beneath the tissues
Restorative yoga is often thought of as an easy practice, but, this can be far from the case. Restorative yoga is designed to bring you back to your body and to realign the mind with the body. The mind craves moment and distractions, making restorative yoga a challenging mental practice to build.
This style of yoga has been one of my long time favorites, and here's why:
• It creates space for us to build a relationship with relaxation. This seems silly, but we are a culture that craves business and validation based on how busy we are. Becoming still within the body and finding peace inside the mind is a level of mastery and an advanced practice. Through a dedicated practice, you can uncover habitual holding patterns of tension. Some of us (most of us) have held tension for so long, we have no clue that we are even tense, making us more vulnerable to distressed sleeping patterns and joint stress. Restorative yoga, in its essence, is the opposite of a hatha practice, asking you to do less instead of more.
• It is a meditative experience when cultivating breath, mindfulness and relaxation. Your breath becomes your meditation and your body is creating the gateway to connect with consciousness through a softened exterior by releasing all tensions that form. Becoming a student to this work, will appear in your everyday life. You will become more conscious of the way you hold tension, on and off your mat. This can prevent future injuries by teaching the body that is ok to relax.
• If you have not heard of the Relaxation Response, it is elicited through very meaningful steps which align with our restorative practice - stillness, internalization, breath awareness, time, and a passive attitude. We achieve the passive mental state when we move into the seat of observation. Observing your body, your breath, your thoughts - all without any involvement or attachment to an outcome or expectation. By learning this technique organically with your practice, you are also gaining a tremendous technique to collaborate with the nervous system, drawing it into its healing response of rest and digest.
• It highlights where we are turning away from in our daily lives. We all carry baggage with us, there is light and there is dark. It is all part of our human experience. To turn away, stuff and repress what is too painful to look at, can be a coping mechanism that works for a short period of time with no predicability on how or when it will express itself. Restorative yoga teaches us to process, witness and be with all of who we are. It is a liberating practice that brings us closer to our home, the heart centre.
If you're interested in getting to know your body, mind and spirit, this practice may prove challenging at times and beyond rewarding at others. The union of mind, body and spirit is the true goal of yoga and I find this practice truly devotional to the path of yoga.