Life comes at you fast. For many of us, the answer is to respond in kind; run faster, go harder, be stronger, etc. In this frame of mind, even our yoga is high-impact, intense, and invigorating. So what is restorative yoga, and how is it different from other types of yoga?
It’s In The Name
Simply put, restorative yoga is exactly what it says on the tin – it’s meant to restore. At its heart, restorative yoga is the practice of centering your body and breath in a still, meditative practice; bringing the mental and physical into alignment through extended periods of gentle movement, or stillness.
In truth, restorative yoga has more in common with meditative practices, than the invigorating experience of hot yoga. No warrior pose, horse stance, no burning sensation in your legs – this isn’t Bikram yoga.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though.
The Challenge of Mindfulness
For many, the fast pace of life is hard to put down, even when we’re taking care of our bodies. For many athletes, it’s a whole lot easier to go out and run five miles, than to sit in absolute stillness for thirty minutes. Meditation takes discipline – the mind is not normally a calm place – and to focus and center on your breath requires a cultivated discipline, much like any other type of exercise routine.
Restorative Yoga works in much the same way.
Changing gears from fast-pace to stillness can be extremely difficult, but incredibly rewarding.
What’s With the Props?
Compared to other forms of Yoga, restorative Yoga is heavy on the props; expect to use blocks, foot straps, blankets, pillows, and eye bags in your sessions.
Simply put, the props assist you in holding the poses for longer, ensuring that proper form is prioritized. Remember, restorative Yoga is about challenging your mind, and spirit – less so your body. The props assist in keeping the focus where it needs to be.
What Are the Benefits of Restorative Yoga?
Like any mindfulness practice, the primary benefits are cumulative. Unlike other exercises, you’re not going to feel a burn in your muscles, or mop off buckets of sweat – with restorative Yoga, the payoff isn’t immediately apparent.
This too, is part of the point.
After your first session, notice how you sleep that night. As you continue, pay attention to how relaxed your body feels over the course of the day. Pay attention to your body in the wake of how you treat it, not the immediate gratification of the moment.
In this, restorative Yoga comes around full circle; centering the mind through the body is incredibly rewarding, but to see the results requires patience – much like the practice itself.
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