There are many types of yoga to help promote a sensation of relaxation and combat stress. Restorative yoga, which was created by B.K.S. Iyengar a master yoga teacher from Pune, India, is perhaps one of the most well-known types of yoga for stress relief. Today, we will discuss how restorative yoga reduces stress and anxiety and go over its many benefits for yoga students seeking a more balanced life.
What Is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing style of yoga where you sustain yoga postures for an extended amount of time while being supported by yoga props. This practice is much more receptive than other active types of yoga, such as Vinyasa. During a typical restorative yoga class, you will hold a pose anywhere from five to twenty minutes using props, such as blocks, bolsters, (or yoga pillows) straps, and/or chairs, to help your muscles relax into the postures.
Why Did Restorative Yoga Begin?
This style of yoga was started in 1937 by B.K.S. Iyengar. It grew from his need to find therapeutic, healing, and restorative poses to restore his physical body. At the time, he was a star yoga pupil, taking on yoga competitions, and other such physical feats. He noticed that once he started teaching yoga that his students sometimes pushed themselves too far in certain poses. His creation of restorative yoga provided his students with another form of yoga that allowed them to surrender, relax, and support their muscles. Restorative yoga promotes healing. It allowed his students to focus on being supported, surrendering to what their bodies needed.
How Does Restorative Yoga Help Reduce Stress?
There are physical, emotional, and mental benefits to restorative yoga, so it is easy to see why it can help reduce stress. Stress causes high blood pressure, weight gain or loss, anxiety and other nervous disorders, and sleep issues. Here are some ways a restorative yoga practice can help alleviate stress and anxiety:
Calms you down by working on the parasympathetic nervous system
Your autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic initiates your fight-or-flight response, alerting your body that you are in danger whereas the parasympathetic initiates the rest-and-digest or feed-and-breed responses. A healthy nervous system is adaptable and changes according to the environment it is in. An unhealthy nervous system can remain in the sympathetic state, which means constant stress, fear, and anxiety.
Restorative yoga helps calm down the mind and the body to put you in the parasympathetic state. It is in this state where you can dissolve physical tension, regain energy, restore muscle, relieve injuries, and relax.
Restorative yoga lowers cortisol levels in your system. High cortisol is responsible for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stress, and anxiety.
Relieves women’s issues
For women who are pregnant, going through menopause, or menstruating, this practice can help relive physical discomfort. Restorative yoga is therapeutic and calming. It is safe to do when pregnant or dealing with hormonal shifts, promoting a sense of ease and relaxation.
Helps with sleep issues
One of the many reasons our society has issues falling asleep is due to our inability to turn our brains off. Restorative yoga helps you build a mind-body connection, so you can focus on being present instead of thinking about all the to-dos on the mental list in your head. Thirty minutes of restorative yoga a day can help improve your overall quality of sleep as well as your ability to fall asleep.
Helpful restorative yoga poses for insomnia include the following:
- Supported downward facing dog (with head on a bolster)
- Supported child’s pose (resting with a bolster between your knees)
- Savasana (laying down on your back with a bolster under your knees)
What Are Some Restorative Yoga Poses to Help with Stress and Anxiety?
Here are some restorative yoga poses to help reduce stress and anxiety:
- Leg’s up the wall pose (cultivates a sense of relaxation and support)
- Child’s pose (helps you turn inward and focus on the present)
- Downward facing dog with bolster (reduces tension and promotes a feeling of relaxation)
- Savasana (resets the nervous system, encourages rest, and promotes healing)
Yoga4Good offers private restorative yoga sessions to clients in Encinitas, CA, and surrounding areas. Online remote sessions are also available. Contact us online to schedule a session today.