Restorative Yoga – Challenge Yourself!
By Honor Yoga’s Guest Blogger: Donna Raskin.
Restorative yoga? I don’t think so.
My long relationship with yoga has included challenging myself in many ways: Heat. Holding poses. Pushing my strength and flexibility. Restoring myself? Although I had never heard the word “restorative” in my yoga life before, I assumed that it mean Easy. Resting. Not doing anything.
I was wrong. In fact it isn’t “easy” though it is accessible, and you do rest, but this is conscious, supported, and guided rest of the nervous system. While rest—like a nap—feels good for a few minutes, restorative yoga accomplishes much more. It allows for deep tissue healing and recovery which improves strength and flexibility. This is accomplished through the supported poses which are held for around 13 minutes. It also uplifts your spirit in a way that might surprise you, especially if you practice more intensely on a regular basis.
During my first restorative class, I loved playing with all the props. For the first three decades of my yoga practice (yes, I’m on year 37 of my yoga practice; I started with a book when I was 16 and I am now 53) I did not use props. I had never used a bolster or blanket. Setting my up little restorative space was like being on a first date with after a long marriage with yoga.
After getting everything into place, I was ready to try out my set up. Leaning back on the two perfectly positioned blocks with my lower back and knees resting on bolsters while two blankets held my arms and hands was like being a baby in someone’s arms. If you’re a parent, you know that deep sleep of young children when they are not holding up any of their own weight. Picking them up is like lifting a bag of flour. That’s how I felt. Endlessly supported and utterly at ease.
For those few minutes, in the pose, my body relaxed almost profoundly, and, more interestingly, when I stood up again, it wasn’t sleep I wanted, or more rest, but to move; I was truly restored.
Try it. Take a weekly restorative class (they fill up fast, get online early!) and see how you feel after a month. My best (rested) guess is that you will actually be fitter and stronger because of this change in your practice.