Sometimes in a yoga class we can focus so much on getting that perfect downward facing dog or a tight core in plank pose that we forget about the holistic and emotional aspect of yoga. I’m not saying it’s not important to have both strength and flexibility because it is, but when we really slow things down in our practice and focus solely on our breathing amazing things can happen. But because it doesn’t look like we’re doing much physically during this practice there is still a lot going on within the body and mind.
Here are some reasons as to why you should practice restorative yoga.
Restorative yoga offers us space in which we can deeply relax the mind. We spend the majority of our day stimulated by external distractions that our brain is constantly on the go. Having a restorative practice allows us an hour to completely switch off from these external distractions.
It allows us to sit with our thoughts and emotions, however unpleasant they may be. A good yoga practitioner will guide the class through this and remind everybody that they are just thoughts and feelings. Once you acknowledge them they begin to dissipate, like sugar dissolving into water.
If you have trouble getting to or maintaining sleep then I urge you to try out a restorative yoga class. The dim lighting, warm room and soft music will make you want to crawl straight into bed afterwards and settle down for a good night’s sleep. You can utilise what you’ve learned in class during the week to create a fantastic night’s sleep every night of the week.
We hold the poses for longer than we usually would during a Hatha yoga class which encourages the body to fully open up and offers a deep stretch. It is amazing how deep you can go into the poses once you give yourself enough time to do so.
This type of practice cultivates mindfulness and relaxation. During a restorative yoga class there is a large focus on breathing which helps connects us to the present moment. The more you practice this, the more you’ll find yourself doing it off the mat. It will make you happier and change your outlook on life.
Restorative yoga engages the parasympathetic nervous system which slows down the heart rate and increases intestinal and glandular activity. It is the complete opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which deals with ‘fight or flight’ mode. The parasympathetic nervous system deals with ‘rest and digest’.
If you suffer from chronic stress and/or high blood pressure, then practising restorative yoga can help significantly reduce this. As I mentioned above we engage our parasympathetic nervous system throughout the practice, therefore our blood pressure is going to drop and over time you will be able to manage stress better.
I would highly recommend everyone to try a restorative yoga class at least once in their lives as there are so many benefits for your mental and physical health. What’s not to love about good sleep and increased happiness?
Sutton Yoga Garden.