“True yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” — Aadil Palkhivala
Each week, I teach three public classes at Mudra Yoga in Eugene. One is a fast-paced vinyasa, one is a medium-paced hatha-style (steady flow), and one is a restorative yoga class.
I’ve noticed that yogis have a general trend toward faster-paced, more active yoga. This is hardly surprising. In our fast-paced world, it can take real physical challenge to move us from our head space to our heart space.
However, there is something incredibly uplifting, revitalizing, and (I would argue) essential to practicing restorative yoga as a regular part of your practice.
So here are 5 reasons why I love restorative yoga:
1. Restorative yoga keeps your spine healthy.
One of the central goals of restorative yoga is a healthy spine. Each session will move your spine in six directions (side to side, forward to backward, and twisting both directions). This keeps the spine supple, healthy, and injury-free.
2. Restorative yoga gives you a moment to chill.
Whether you’re a busy student, parent, employee/entrepeneur/freelancer or anything in between, there’s no denying that our lives today have more constant distraction, stress, and demands than in any point in history. Restorative yoga gives you that moment of peace when you can finally hear yourself think (or better, release those thoughts altogether).
3. Restorative yoga gives your nervous system a break.
Your nervous system is broken down into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is in charge much of the time and allows us to be alert to danger, stressors, and anything calling for action. The parasympathetic nervous system is a healer that kicks in during sleep, meditation, deep breathing, and (you guessed it) yoga. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, healing happens and we’re not responding to new stressors.
4. Restorative yoga heals!
Because restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it gives your body a chance to promote optimal healing. This can help reduce inflamation, promote healing from a disease or injury, and lower stress to bring hormones into balance. It can even help with menstrual cramps, if that’s a worry.
5. And finally, restorative yoga makes you feel good.
You can’t argue with how you feel. With so many health benefits to the body and mind, it’s hard to leave a restorative class without feeling calmer, happier, and healthier overall.