A restorative practice frequently relies on the use of props and the prolonged holding of a few simple poses to achieve a deep level of relaxation.
But what exactly makes this style of yoga unique? Here are some of the benefits a restorative yoga practice has to offer.
Slows Down the Pace of Life
Restorative yoga is an excellent opportunity to disconnect from the frenetic activity of daily life and let your speedometer return to 0 mph. It offers a welcome respite among all the turbulence of life and helps to prepare the mind and body for the inward stroke of meditation and deepened awareness. Moving slowly through the poses allows you to explore your mind and body at a steady and natural tempo.
Soothing to the Nervous System
The slower pace and deep breathing that you get in a restorative yoga class triggers the parasympathetic nervous system from the very first pose. This activation helps to mitigate the effects of the regular fight-or-flight stress response that can be damaging to your physiology and well-being. The overall calming effect on the nervous system sets a deeply relaxing tone for the class that comforts your mind and body down to the cellular level.
Restorative yoga could just as easily be called “mindful yoga” due to the expanded awareness of self and body that comes through the practice. Slower movements cultivate space for a deeper experience of the poses and the breath. Awareness of the physical sensations, the thoughts or emotions that arise, or sounds in the environment, can all take on a much more profound significance in the depth of the restorative practice. Simply put, you’re able to notice and feel more of the world through your yoga experience.
On the whole, many forms of Hatha yoga are considered a precursor to extended periods of meditation. Through the practice, muscles, joints, and subtle energy centers are enlivened to help facilitate a deeper and more comfortable experience of meditation. However, the practice of restorative yoga in and of itself often leads to a transcendent experience of deep oneness with the universal level of consciousness. Each pose and each breath serves to lead you further up the ladder of expanded awareness. As the practice expands, the vehicle of yoga carries you from the waking state of consciousness into the silent space between your thoughts—the space from where you’re able to glimpse the soul and awaken the divinity within.
Cultivates Heightened Body Awareness
The comfortable pace of restorative yoga opens the doorway to a deeper understanding of your own body, letting you actually feel what it means to be a spiritual being having a human experience. Sadly, many people aren’t intimate with their own bodies. Through a restorative yoga practice, however, such intimacy can be explored and embraced. Deeper levels of bodily strengths can be integrated and owned and a more profound sense of self-love and acceptance can emerge.
Deepens Self-Awareness and Introspection
The subdued quality of a restorative yoga class often helps you draw attention inward and away from external events and situations of the world. With your awareness directed within, the practice becomes a sanctuary for the mind and spirit from which you can take a deeper look at who you are, what you want, and how you can serve the world. Restorative yoga opens us up to new levels of self-exploration and contemplation, allowing your inner being to shine forth.
Creates Deliberateness of Action
Through the mindfulness of the practice, you become increasingly aware of your actions or karmas, and how they influence your level of comfort or discomfort. You can see the direct cause and effect relationship between your poses, breathing, and overall level of well-being. As this experience continues to deepen, you begin to make more deliberate and attentive choices, both on and off the mat.
Strengthens Acceptance and Detachment
By its very nature, the restorative yoga practice is the antithesis of the “no-pain-no-gain” mentality. You receive the greatest benefits from your practice not through forcing yourself into a pose, but by releasing and surrendering to it. This mentality helps to cultivate acceptance of your body and its inherent limitations. Further, it strengthens your ability to let go of preconceived notions of your body and how you think it should look or feel, both in and out of a pose. When increased ease and comfort are the theme of your yoga practice, acceptance and detachment naturally emerge as a result.
Helps You Feel Safe and Nurtured
In daily life it’s easy to get pulled into the insecurity that is a byproduct of the modern world. Many people move through their days haunted by fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Restorative yoga provides you with a safe harbor wherein you can reconnect with your true nature, which is immortal, invincible, pure, and nourishing. Making that connection through your poses, breathing, and deep relaxation restores the memory of who you are and helps you to reclaim the fearless nature of your soul. From this refuge, you emerge feeling secure in the inherent goodness within your heart and in the world.
Connects You to the Divine and Establishes You in Pure Being
The ultimate goal of yoga is union with the divine. Therefore, your practice should be a means to that end. Luckily, restorative yoga is the perfect vehicle to help you reconnect with the divinity within. Through the techniques of the practice, you awaken grace, poise, flexibility, balance, strength, and present moment awareness. This combination creates a mind and body ideally suited for seamlessly merging into the non-local field of awareness, or pure being.
As a tool for self-transformation, restorative yoga facilitates the integration of all the layers of life—environmental, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual—culminating in the goal of all goals, awakening to your own divine nature.
The benefits listed here may not be isolated solely to restorative yoga, but they are some of the most defining benefits to this type of practice. If you’ve never explored this style of yoga, this is your open invitation.
Get the most out of your “golden years” – now that you finally have time to do something for yourself and your own physical and mental development.
Some of the key benefits of yoga for seniors would include:
Physical: increased flexibility getting in and out of the car, tying shoe laces, putting on socks, tying your bra, picking
thinks up that drop on the floor, better sleep, improved posture making you look younger.
Emotional: increased self esteem, confidence, less depression, emotional well being, more focused, better memory, sociable, make friends, relaxing.
Many problems associated with ageing such as circulatory disorders, arthritis and digestive complaints are a result of lack of exercise, poor eating habits and shallow breathing. Proper breathing is especially important for older people. Yoga, with its positive effects on the endocrine and nervous systems, can also be beneficial in dealing with the discomforts of menopause.
Tapping new sources of energy at any age In just a short amount of time, specially adapted yoga exercises can awaken the body’s power of regeneration, leading to more energy, enhanced physical well-being and a more positive attitude towards life. Many complaints associated with ageing such as sleeplessness, lack of drive and initiative, insufficient circulation and digestive trouble can be corrected.
– Yoga is a superior form of weight-bearing exercise for preventing osteoporosis:
Bones grow stronger in response to use. In the presence of adequate supplies of calcium in the diet, bone growth is stimulated by any activity in which bones bear weight or muscles pull them. Yoga stimulates bones throughout the body. In Yoga the weight is systematically applied to bones in the hands, arms, upper body, neck and even the head, as well as the feet and legs. Because yoga postures are learned gradually, the weight applied to the bones increases safely, incrementally as the student becomes stronger and can hold postures for longer periods of time. Bones continue a healthy process of regeneration and remain strong.
- Yoga prevents and helps to overcome arthritis:
Regular gentle movement helps reduce pain and maintain mobility. Yoga based exercises expand range of motion without stressing or straining joints. Movement increases circulation which, in turn, reduces swelling and increases delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the joint tissues to facilitate their healing. Breathing and relaxation techniques used in yoga help to relieve stress and tension.
The general consensus in our society seems to be that yoga is only for women. In Yoga Fitness Dublin we are determined to change that perspective!. Once men realize the many ways that yoga can also benefit them, they have a change of heart about this yoga-is-for-women mindset.
For starters, yoga works the entire body — and that’s all bodies, not just the bodies of women! Did you know that during sports, we tend to only utilize about 10 – 15% of the body, whereas, yoga provides a workout that covers every muscle, joint and organ. Yoga gives the term “full body workout” a whole new meaning!
The practice of yoga oxygenates the blood, thus, creating more post-yoga energy as opposed to depleting the body of energy as is often the case after sports and gym workouts. Yoga, however, is ideal for removing stiffness in the bodies from sports and workouts.
Did you know that yoga also has some “private” benefits, too? (Wink, Wink!) For instance, Guarasana (Eagle pose) sends fresh blood and oxygen to the sexual organs. Trikonasana (Triangle pose) increases cardiovascular endurance and is the only known posture that utilizes every organ, muscle, and joint in the body. Studies have shown that yoga also helps men to be more mindful during that “intimate” time with their partners.
It’s well-known that a regular yoga practice can reduce stress! The mindfulness of yoga helps the practitioner identify tension held in the body and mind, and then the postures combined with conscious breathing help release it. Since men are known to have higher stress levels than women, they can certainly benefit from the stress-relieving effects of a regular yoga practice.
Still not sold on how yoga can be equally as beneficial for men as it is for women?
Here are a few more physical benefits yoga has to offer:
Men are especially prone to low back pain, and yoga can help reduce and/or alleviate that pain. Yoga can also lower blood pressure, plus, make one smarter! Since the ability to recognize a problem is critical for the exercise of good judgment, a yoga practice may help those who practice it make better decisions about key areas of their lives. Then, with the large degree of stress reduction and mind-clearing yoga offers, one is able to see things from a new, smarter perspective.
More benefits of the yoga practice for Men:
- Yoga can help you develop a better breathing technique while it improves your balance, flexibility, core strength, and endurance.
- If you participate competitively in sport or simply join the occasional fun run on a whim you are aware of the impact breathing can have on performance. Deep, relaxed breathing is the foundation of reducing performance anxiety and improving concentration. Yoga will help you develop a habit of breathing correctly.
- Yoga practice integrations the mind-body connection and athletes can benefit from this combination of skills training.
- Increase Core Strength: Yoga poses are all about building core strength. The slow, focused movements require a strong mid-section and the isometric contractions of many exercises will add a new form of resistance training to your typical machine-based workouts.
- Increase Flexibility and Range of Motion: Yoga routines incorporate slow, steady flexibility exercise that is ideal for athletes. Frequent yoga training may increase flexibility, and range of motion while relieving muscle tension. Whether you are a runner or a golfer, improved range of motion can often help improve performance.
- Improve Balance. Yoga is a perfect way to incorporate balance exercises into your training routine. Balance exercises are often overlooked by athletes, but are one of the most effective ways to correct muscle imbalance or body mechanic problems. With most sports and weight training routines you tend to perform repetitive motions that develop some muscle groups while others are ignored. Yoga can fix these imbalances.
- It’s Great Cross Training. Yoga is a great low-impact way to cross train. Cross training is necessary for athletes who do the same sport or exercise routine year-round. Adding new exercises can help reduce injury, relieve training boredom, add variety and help recover from hard aerobic or strength workouts.
Benefits of Inversions in Yoga:
Inversion Helps Improve Circulation
The cardiovascular system is your body’s transportation system, carrying food and oxygen to your body’s cells. It also retrieves blood from your legs and lower torso, carrying it upwards against the force of gravity. Inversion allows your body to work with gravity to ease the circulation process.
Calms the mind and relieves stress
A full body stretch upside down can be rejuvenating and help the body to effectively relax. A study conducted by physiotherapist LJ Nose found that EMG activity (a measure of muscle tension) declined over 35% within ten seconds of inverting. Showing how helpful inversions can be in relieving the tension and pain in your muscles that is often caused by stress.
Reduce Pain in Overworked Muscles
Athletes prone to stiffness or sore muscles after a workout can benefit from the lymphatic wash provided by inversion. The lymphatic system has no pump, putting the body upside down helps speed up the process of removing waste from the body.
Ligaments are flexible but not very elastic. They can tear when stretched too much. The gentle reverse loading and movement that occurs while you invert strengthens ligaments and connective tissue.
Can Reduce Shrinking
Most people will lose from 1/2 inch – 2 inches in height during their lifetime because of thinning discs. As a baby, your discs are 90% water. The water content in the discs decreases to 70% by age 70. An active inversion program can help maintain more of your original height.
Improve Balance and Body Awareness
Inversion helps to develop balance awareness, which occurs when the upper regions of the inner ear are stimulated.
Enhance ability to concentrate and remain focused
Inversions help increase oxygen flow to the brain, which consumes 25 percent of the body’s oxygen’s intake.
More Benefits of Inversions:
Flipping upside down encourages delivery of fresh blood to your heart, which provides more efficient circulation. It is similar to what aerobics may offer. These positions are also said to improve lung tissue quality. Being upright the majority of your day causes the lower lung tissue to saturate with blood, but inverting will ventilate the upper lungs, ensuring a more even oxygen-to-blood exchange that promotes healthier tissue. Being upside down also increases blood flow to your head, relieving the heart of some of its duties and temporarily lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Your lymphatic system, according to "Yoga Journal," is a closed pressure system with one-way valves that keep lymph moving to the heart. This system is responsible for waste removal, immune-system response and fluid balance. When your body inverts, this stimulates your lymphatic system and, in turn, strengthens your immune system.
Your endocrine system is responsible for hormone delivery. Inversions, especially shoulder stands, are recommended for pre-menopausal and menopausal women due to the belief that the pose stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which regulates metabolism. Most inversions will stimulate your pituitary gland, which is your master gland, and promote a positive state of well-being.
Inversions may also stimulate cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, which is the juice of the central nervous system that flows from the brain to the spinal cord. In headstand, the top of the skull experiences pressure that could promote elasticity in the cranial bones, thus increasing the production of CSF to the ventricles of the brain, according to "Yoga Journal."
Years of gravity's pull and spinal compression often wreak havoc on people's backs, creating pain that most cannot explain. Inverting can be a natural way of counteracting the pull of gravity.
Benefits of Downward Facing Dog Pose:
Benefits of Forward bends:
· The forward bend postures have a massaging action on the organs in the upper body. Forward bends open up your back, promote total exhalation of air from the lungs by compressing the chest and also help to calm down your mind.
· The forward bending postures bend the back to the shape it was when the body was in the womb that is also called the primary curve. This makes some space between the spinal vertebrae that improves the circulation around it and has overall beneficial effects on the body.
· The nerves from all the different organs in the body pass through the spinal cord and the improved circulation benefits all of them in a great way.
· The forward bend poses give an internal massage as well as improve the circulation to the various organs like the abdomen, pancreas, liver, intestines and kidneys.
· They also help to lengthen and strengthen the hamstrings, muscles of the inner leg, make the muscles of the back supple and boost the strength of the legs and the knees.
Benefits of Backbends:
· Backbends stretches the front of the abdomen, hips, thighs, shoulders and chest
· By activating the abdomen, they stimulate the kidneys, reproductive, and digestive system.
· The backward bending postures energize, refresh and invigorate the body- opening the chest, and encouraging proper breathing
· On an anatomical level, this action stretches and releases the muscles of the chest allowing circulation to flow freely to the heart and lungs.
· During the back-bend the thymus is pressured, and then released, this stimulation can aid immune function. The nervous system is stimulated, building heat and stimulating metabolism
· The abdominal muscles receive a stretch, as does the digestive system
· Backbends bring heat and energy to the spine. The Nervous system benefits, as Cerebral-Spinal fluids are pumped (since the body is usually in a forward bend)
· Backbends realign the spine, counteracting and re-teaching the body’s poor habits and making daily movement more comfortable, lending poise and grace
· Integrity of the spine creates integrity of the mind, combating depression and lethargy
· By opening the chest, backbends also work with the heart center, encouraging complete expansion of the lungs. This brings vitality.
More Physical Benefits:
Yoga Fitness Blog
I am Claudia Gutierrez, owner of Yoga Fitness, originally from Argentina and proudly Irish Citizen since 2012.