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5 Benefits of Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga and its many benefits are often overlooked by those of us with over-active, success-driven, cost-benefit-analysis types of minds and lives. In a world that is constantly increasing in its pace of life and speed of processing, the aforementioned “us” refers to most of us. A restorative yoga class is often the part of the weekly plan that gets cut out as soon as life gets hectic and busy. It feels like an expendable luxury, like an indulgence, to spend an hour of your very busy day just relaxing. However, if we can flip our perspective and shift our mindset about the vast benefits of this hour, hopefully it won’t become quite so expendable. Relaxing and restoring should not feel like the luxury that it has become. It should be an integral and basic part of humans seeking to function at their highest possible level. Here are just 5 of the many benefits of restorative yoga:

1. Rest. Restorative yoga’s main purpose is to give your mind and your body the vital resting time that it needs to function optimally. Rest is an interesting idea. I thought I knew what it was, but then I realized I was confusing REST with SLEEP. Rest and sleep are two different things, two different levels of relaxation. Of the vital factors of human life, rest falls about half-way between sleep and play. Rest should definitely be relaxing, but it should also be fun, enjoyable and playful. Although it might look like it from time to time, a restorative class is not just nap time, it is a practice in finding that vital balance between sleep and play.

2. During a Restorative yoga class, it's a great time to remind your body how to move at another pace. Very rarely in our daily lives are we encouraged to move as slowly and delicately as possible. Without a consistent restorative practice, we run the risk of spending all day, every day, moving at a hectic and frantic pace. While moving quickly and staying active is a wonderful practice, it is equally important to know how to slow down your mind and your body. Luckily, restorative yoga is just that, the practice in the skill of slowing down.

3. Restorative yoga is the ultimate staycation. You get to take time away to reset without ever leaving your mat! Restorative yoga shares many of the same benefits as a vacation, massage, or spa day. It allows you to rest and rejuvenate so that you may go back to life and work feeling restored to your most optimal level of functioning. Despite the message we are often fed, working harder and longer is not always the path to true success. Taking the time to rest your system, slow your heart rate, lower your levels of cortisol, increase blood flow throughout the body, engage your parasympathetic nervous system, and find optimal alignment of your bones and joints are all physical benefits of restorative yoga that will lead to a higher functioning 'you'.

4. Relaxation is a skill and like all skills, it must be consistently practiced to master. In another time and in other cultures, relaxation may be built into the pace of life, but in our Western world, it is something that we must take time out to purposely and intentionally practice or we may never learn how to truly relax. Restorative yoga gives you guidance and props to slowly teach your mind and body how to relax with the hopes that you will find ways to make this skill transferrable to your life off the mat.

5. Restorative yoga puts you on the roadway to a consistent and beneficial meditation practice. If you are someone who struggles to have a meditation practice that truly benefits your life, try spending more time in restorative yoga. Restorative yoga can be seen as a kind of gateway to meditation. It teaches your body and mind the first steps it needs to master before you will ever be able to meditate. It also teaches you how to enjoy slowing down and being still. Once your mind and body are able to truly relax into stillness, then and only then, will your brain begin to reach those levels of higher thought and consciousness a lot of people are seeking from their yoga and meditation practice.

Now that you know of the many benefits from Restorative yoga, come take a Restorative class here at Joy Yoga Center and find out how relaxing and beneficial it can be!

By Holly Coneway

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