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The Benefits of Restorative Yoga
October 3, 2013
Article contributed by Nora Benian (Sundari), Restorative Yoga Teacher.
In this day and age of being constantly on guard due to an overwhelming bombardment of stimuli, when does one have an opportunity to unwind, relax and recharge? It’s no wonder we are all stressed out. For restoration one must relax, but how do we practice relaxing?
Restorative Yoga is a very gentle practice designed to calm the nervous system, deeply relax the body and mind and create overall well-being. It offers simple yet powerful postures and relaxation techniques that can be integrated into existing yoga classes, or used to teach restorative specific classes, but also in healing treatments. Restorative Yoga is a regenerative healing tool that reduces stress and pain by supporting the body’s innate responses towards homeostasis and health.
Through the use of supported yoga postures, breathing and meditative techniques, a profound sense of relaxation infuses one’s entire being which leads to healing. When the body is fully supported, it will naturally relax, releasing deeply held tensions. Relaxation is a state in which there is no movement, no effort, and the brain is quiet.
During deep relaxation, all the organ systems of the body are benefited, and a few of the measurable results of deep relaxation are the reduction of blood pressure, as well as improvement in digestion, fertility, elimination, the reduction of muscle tension, and generalized fatigue. Restorative Yoga focuses on relaxing the body in restful postures. Note that ‘rest’ is different than sleep. Rest provides the body an opportunity to renew and heal. Countless studies have proven the physical and emotional benefits of this.
Restorative yoga is the yoga of non-doing, and focuses on effortlessness and ease, using well-placed blankets, bolsters, yoga straps, and chairs to safely support the body in various postures. This process invokes a natural state of balance, regeneration, and healing rest. Restorative yoga poses can also provide a deep stretch that restructures the connective tissue and slowly lengthens the muscle without triggering a stretch reflex. Subsequently, a deeper stretch occurs and amplifies the rehabilitation process. By releasing deeply held tensions fresh oxygen and new energy can filter into cells pushing out toxins and reviving blocked energy channels allowing for greater mobility, less pain and freedom of movement. When combined with traditional yoga instruction and with methods of physical and psycho therapies, restorative yoga facilitates a beneficial way to relax tight fascial structures and other bound connective tissues. Emotional tensions can be released this way as well and this is why more and more yoga teachers, physical therapists and Psychotherapists are including restorative yoga in their approach to improve their student’s / client’s well-being.
Restorative Yoga techniques are helpful in the treatment of nervous system disorders, such as insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, and also with specific ailments such as cancer, although it often used for structural re-alignment and the healing of injuries.
There is vast amount of evidence pointing to the benefits of yoga for ailments such as heart disease, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, burns, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain stemming from low back pain and repetitive strain injuries.
The art of relaxation takes practice but it is the most beneficial practice for all the systems of the body and mostly for generating precious peace of mind.
Nora Benian (Sundari) is a Sivananda Yoga teacher, yoga therapist, registered professional counselor, and Thai Yoga Massage practitioner with a diploma of homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy in Toronto, Canada. As a yoga therapist, she prescribes yogic practices along with counseling techniques to bring clients into alignment, build strength, and open energy channels to increase the life force.
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