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What is Restorative Yoga?

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! It’s 5:30am and your alarm is screaming. Time to wake up. You hit the ground running. The coffee’s brewing, kids are up and fed, teeth brushed, hair combed, dressed, and you’re out the door. You’re in the car driving to drop the kids off and there’s chaos. Cheerios being thrown across the seats, arguments over what’s playing on the radio - RED LIGHT! You slam on the brakes and your coffee goes flying. You scramble to find those napkins from yesterday so you can attempt to clean up, and suddenly the light is green again. Kids get dropped off and you’re headed to work, only to sit in an hour of Houston traffic.

The day drags on. There are dozens of emails to answer, meetings to sit tirelessly in, computer screens to stare at for hours on end. Then after work, it’s off to pick up the kids and hit the grocery store. Finally you’re back home, but there’s still dinner to worry about. It has been such a long and fast paced day, and even when you crawl into bed your mind is still racing, keeping you from a good night’s sleep.

This is exactly why Restorative Yoga exists. We need this mindful pause to interrupt our hectic day so that we have a chance to reset and recalibrate ourselves. Some studies have shown that 40% of Americans are sleep deprived, with many getting less than 5 hours of sleep every night (see Sleepless in America). Pair that with the craziness of daytime life and its no wonder we’re all so cranky and stiff all the time.

Restorative Yoga is a different kind of physical Asana Practice intended to help your body let go of needless tension and anxiety. Unlike Vinyasa, restorative classes move extremely slow. In a 75 minute session you’ll move through a total of maybe 5 poses. Instructors guide you into some gentle positions using the support of different props. You’ll learn to use blocks, bolsters, straps, blankets, sometimes sandbags and even chairs to support your practice. Once you’ve settled into a pose you’ll stay there for several minutes. Could be anywhere between 7 to 10 minutes, sometimes even longer.

The great thing about this practice is that you can stay as long as you’d like, or not if you so choose. If you move into something that just doesn’t serve your body, adjust. Squirm, roll around a little bit, and find a variation that really works for you. The same goes for poses your body really loves. If the time is up and your body doesn’t want to move, be still. This is your practice, your time to slow down and chill out.

Restorative movements are very gentle, and using the props makes them more so. Even though the body is supported you will feel a deep stretch, like a kind of expansion or opening of the body. The idea is to get your mind and body fully relaxed, to turn off the tension and stress for a few precious moments.

Because of that advanced state of relaxation, it is very likely you will fall asleep - especially if you don’t get a lot of sleep at night. Sometimes we joke and call it Adult Nap Time. It is absolutely okay if you fall asleep. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. That just means that your body really needed that rest, and you picked the perfect day to show up for restorative.

It’s important to get your restorative practice in even when things aren’t feeling hectic and fast paced. If you want to keep it that way, this slow-down and check-in will help you maintain balance in your daily life.

Don’t believe me? Come check out a Restorative class at Joy Yoga Center and find out how relaxing it can be! We have Restorative Yoga classes at both locations every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our teachers are well-trained and more than ready to help you feel your absolute best, and keep it that way!

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