Monday, September 8, 2008

Rest for the rest of us

Restorative yoga is not just for injuries, illness and beginners. It is for everyone and especially for people with active lives and advanced yoga practices. It is the antidote to living in today's increasingly complex world.

Yoga's popularity came through the fitness door and these essential practices and teachings fell by the wayside. Often overlooked, the yin or restful aspect of yoga seals in the benefits. It is the yin that balances yang. Ha-tha is the traditional name for yoga as a physical practice. We become flexible by putting our bodies in different positions so that life doesn't bend us out of shape. We go upside down to gain new perspectives. Ha and Tha mean sun and moon; Ha-tha is yoga's representation of yin and yang. The more active, forceful, busy our lives, the greater the need for balance with receptivity, rest, letting go.

Restorative yoga creates the conditions for relaxation, rest, and renewal. It allows the body and mind to reset, heal and rejuvenate.  Numerous studies have demonstrated the concrete benefits of relaxation. Relaxation is different from sleep. It is possible to tense the muscles and move fitfully in sleep. When we relax, we remain awake enough to enjoy resting. Stress hormones, which cause harm to the body over the long-term, dissipate.

In Restorative yoga, the body is completely supported by pillows, blankets, blocks and bolsters to aid in letting go. The props shoulder the burden for the practitioner. Poses are held long enough for deep relaxation to unfurl. Many people report having transformative and healing experiences through these practices. 

Many studios now offer restorative yoga. I am excited to be leading these classes at The Mindful Body.

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