The Healing Powers of Yoga

Hello readers! This week I want to share about something that is very dear to me-yoga! I’m super excited and happy to announce that after years of practicing yoga, I recently enrolled in a program to become a certified yoga teacher! I’m looking forward to sharing more information about yoga with you in the near future!

There are many different forms of yoga, each of which has many of the same health benefits, but each style also has some unique qualities. There is hatha yoga, hot yoga, restorative yoga, and so many others. In this blog post, I want to share about restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is so AMAZING!

With restorative yoga, you are doing a practice that is much gentler on your body. It is intended to help heal your body and mind, promote wellness, and help you learn basic stretches that will open up your body and allow for healing. This form of yoga-like others, promotes deep breathing through the nose, which leads to a very calming, cleansing, almost meditative feeling that reduces stress and anxiety, and bring a focus and stillness to the mind.

Do You Need Restorative Yoga in Your Life?

Have you felt a little anxious? Perhaps you’re having a hard time falling or staying asleep? Maybe you wake in the morning feeling un-refreshed or cloudy headed? Maybe you have moments of anger building up during your day, or simply realize you need a sense of more calm and less drama in your life? Maybe you are a multi-tasker or someone that simply cannot turn those constant thoughts off long enough to find some peace? Perhaps you simply feel little aches and pains in your life from a lack of getting proper exercise, or perhaps, you’ve paused to check your phone a few to many times  while reading this post???? Yoga….it IS your friend!

Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief

Most forms of yoga can be amazing for stress relief, but restorative yoga has a few added benefits for this purpose.

First of all, restorative yoga is more of a slower and gentler form of yoga. Instead of moving swiftly from one pose to the next, each pose in restorative yoga is going to be held for considerably longer, with deeper and very measured breathing. This is great for building up your strength and flexibility, but also gives you time to adjust and stretch through each pose. You are given more time to breathe during the pose and relax your muscles fully-you will find that with each breath, you are able to relax deeper and more completely into your poses.

You will notice that in a restorative yoga class, the entire environment is much more relaxing, which in of itself makes it better for people who are doing yoga specifically to help relieve stress. Often, whether done in class or online, there is meditative sounds or music to bring you even further into your relaxation for both mind and body.

Why Props Are Used in Restorative Yoga

Another big difference between restorative yoga and other forms of the practice is that props are used frequently. This is a mellow yoga class that is meant to relax you, so props are often used to help support your body. This allows you to hold the poses in the proper position, and for longer periods of time. Keep in mind-It is this length of time for each pose that really makes it “restorative” and healing for both your body and mind.

If you take a yoga class, they might tell you what items to bring, though most classes also provide them for their students. However, if you are doing it at home, get props like yoga blocks and bolsters if you can. Otherwise, rolled-up towels or small blankets also work great. These props make it easier for you to reach and hold each pose even if you have little flexibility or balance, therefore taking much f the body challenge out of the yoga equation.

The Best Stress-Relieving Yoga Positions

While many yoga poses used in restorative yoga are great for stress relief, there are some that are better to start with. If you are dealing with stress and overwhelm, try some of these beginner-friendly poses:

Child’s Pose

It is always good to start with a yoga pose that is very simple and easy to get your stretch in, such as the child’s pose. If you do other workouts, like strength training or Pilates, you might be familiar with child’s pose as it is a common post-workout stretch.

The child’s pose is done starting on your knees, with the top of your feet and shins flat on the ground. Leave your knees about shoulder-width apart, then start bending your body forward until your head and shoulders between your knees. Bend forward as far as you can with your arms stretched out in front of you. You want a good stretch, but not so much that it causes discomfort or pain.

Child’s pose helps calm the breath, eases lower back pain, stretches the hips and thighs, and increases circulation throughout the body.

Supported Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet just far away from your bottom that you can touch them with your fingertips. Place a folded blanket or pillow under your lower back if support is needed. In this pose, you will gently rise from the hips, through the thighs, into a “bridge, with the upper back and shoulder still on the ground. Keep your arms relaxed and by your sides, or place them over your belly or heart. Hold this pose while breathing slowly through the nose. Bridge pose strengthens the back and glutes, while opening the chest and hip flexors. It brings calmness to the body, alleviates stress, improves digestion, and can even help with depression.

Legs up the Wall

 You can try the legs up the wall yoga pose, another classic pose that is great for beginners. All you need to do is find a wall in your home or the yoga studio that you will be able to lean your body against. You will lie with your back and buttocks on the ground, with your legs straight up in front of you, on the wall. An easy way to get into this position is put one hip on the wall, lay down flat, slowly swinging your legs around to go up the wall. Using a folded blanket under your hips will reduce any pressure from the lower back. Holding this position while using a steady breath will release tension throughout the entire body, reduce anxiety, and even lower the heart rate. This pose can also help with insomnia.

I use restorative yoga almost nightly in my personal routine. In recent weeks, during some especially stressful moments, I have pulled out my mat several times a day to spend a few moments doing simple poses and breathing deeply and slowly. The degree of calm I feel almost immediately has made me a huge believer in the practice. I hope you will take a few moments to try a pose or two each day and see how it can bring a calming, positive affect to your daily life. As always, if you’re interested in exploring new mindsets and pathways for your health and wellness journey, please reach out to me! I’d love to help set up, support, and motivate you in a program designed just for you.

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