Why Practice Restorative Yoga?
9th January 2018
For many of us, ‘relaxing’ means crashing out in front of the TV after a busy day, or five minutes drinking a cup of tea. But how often do we allow ourselves to fully let go and relax deeply, switching off the busy chatter of our minds?
As we try to balance busy lives with work, family and other responsibilities, we often experience some level of stress from the moment we wake up to the moment we crawl into bed. All too easily we enter ‘fight or flight’ mode – our biological response to stress and danger – which causes tight muscles, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Our bodies respond by releasing adrenaline and also cortisol, a hormone that can wreak havoc on our bodies: suppressing the immune system, decreasing bone formation and lengthening the time it takes the body to heal from injury. We forget that we need time to recover, and this can lead to problems with physical and mental health.
Restorative yoga, sometimes called active or conscious relaxation, has been shown to help counter these stresses, reducing the damaging effects of the stress response, and lowering levels of adrenaline and cortisol. It can help promote and maintain good health, bringing deep relaxation to the body and mind and is linked to higher levels of serotonin, the body’s ‘feel-good’ chemical.
The practice of restorative yoga is now widespread, but was first developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. The practice is slow, still and meditative and benefits the nervous system, digestive system, cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as reducing anxiety. It’s also especially helpful if you are going through a stressful time in your life, or just want a bit of ‘me time’.
Regular relaxation practice through yoga can have a profound effect on a wide range of medical conditions, even changing our bodies on a genetic level. A study from Harvard Medical School found that people who practised yoga had far more disease-fighting genes than those who practised no form of relaxation. Regular practise was shown to lead to greater chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain, with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure. According to the researchers, the more regularly we practice relaxation through yoga or similar practices, the more deeply-rooted the benefits will be.
In a restorative yoga class supportive props such as bolsters and blankets are used, enabling you to stay in poses for longer than usual without strain, relaxing the muscles and allowing the breath to find its natural rhythm. The result is that the whole being feels soothed and as body, mind and breath are harmonised and inner stillness is reached – our innermost peaceful Self.
Forthcoming restorative yoga events at Sheffield Yoga Centre:
Monthly Drop-in Class – Restorative Fridays: With Helen Clay, December 8 / January 19 / February 9 / March 16from 6.15-7.30pm (£9, no pre-booking – just turn up)
Restorative Workshop with Helen Clay, Sunday 3 December, 2 – 4.30pm (£20) http://bit.ly/2ziOK8p
Restorative Workshop for International Women’s Day with Helen Clay, 11 March 2018, 2 – 4.30pm (£20 – profits to charity): http://bit.ly/2jkEWnE