When you need to slow down life’s hectic pace, the relaxing and nourishing practice of gentle and restorative yoga beckons like an oasis. The combination of gentle Hatha or Iyengar yoga plus deep restorative work improves your range of motion and joint mobility, while reducing pain and the effects of stress.
New age instrumental accompaniment boosts your practice by creating a peaceful atmosphere and elevates your relaxation and stress reduction.
Gentle and Restorative is good for any and all practitioners of yoga. Students with injuries, arthritis and other chronic conditions can benefit, as well as those with size or age limitations. If your practice is usually a more vigorous form of yoga, you will relish the calm and refreshing atmosphere of the slower paced class.
The use of many props differentiates Restorative from other yogas. You may use chairs, blocks, bolsters, straps, pillows, sandbags, foam pad, and blankets. Restorative poses are usually held for a few minutes and sometimes up to 15 minutes and the purpose of the props is to keep you well supported so that your muscles release and the brain can rest.
There are many benefits to this type of practice. Here are 6 terrific ways Gentle and Restorative Yoga can add to your life:
- Sleep Enhancement – regular restorative yoga practice has been shown to increase melatonin levels, an antioxidant and natural hormone that helps you relax and promotes sound sleep.
- Improves Flexibility – Aging can cause loss of flexibility, strength and balance. Maintaining a committed yoga practice, along with a health sustaining diet and regular exercise (of any type) helps to age-proof the mind and body, prevents and lessens aches and pains to help you achieve optimal health.
- Being Present in the Moment – a restorative class can be challenging as it takes time for the body to settle and the mind to become calm. Focus is on the breath and the yogi leading the session will guide you through a series of breathing exercises until you have achieved stillness. Focusing on the breath leads you away from focusing on your mind and thoughts about what’s going on outside of class. You’ll be cautioned to simply observe thoughts that come into your mind and then let them flow away.
- Eases Stress & Anxiety – Stress contributes to many illnesses and chronic conditions like addictions, cancer, diabetes and weight gain, just to mention a few. A state of deep relaxation can help your nervous system do its job – to slow the heart and increase the tone and contractility of the heart muscle and to assist the body in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Boosts the Immune System – The forward bends, chest openings, inversions and twists strengthen your immune system. When tight and shortened muscles are released and gently and gradually lengthened, your lymphatic system can do a better job of flushing out blockages and toxins.
- Achieving a Deep Sense of Love and Peace – Restorative yoga heightens a wonderful sense of serenity, allowing you to connect with yourself at a deep level. The kind and gentle attitude toward yourself that is cultivated in restorative practice enables you to “just be” instead of constantly “doing”. You’ll leave class feeling like you’re physically floating on a cloud, with your mind free and open to good thoughts for yourself and others.
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