Sunday, November 27, 2011

Restorative Yoga in a Stressful World

“I will let my body flow like water over the gentle cushions.”  Sappho
Feeling stressed, over-worked, and fatigued? Restorative Yoga might be able to help.
Restorative Yoga is a practice that uses a variety of props to completely support the body in gentle, restful positions. It is a healing practice that gives students the opportunity to linger quietly in well-supported poses.  After effects?  You feel calm, peaceful and balanced!
I am a Relax and Renew Yoga Teacher, trained by Judith Lasater.  Much of the information from this post comes from my studies with her.
We live in a stressful world, and it can take a toll on the body and the mind.  According to Judith, we are stressed because of our thoughts about the future and as a result of our samskaras (ingrained patterns) from our past.   All of these thoughts that continually swirl around in our heads leave a residue.  Restorative Yoga helps to clear that away.
Judith points out that most people have a misguided notion about what relaxation really means.  We think we are resting when we sit down in front of the t.v. or when we are reading a book.  In reality, we are “avoiding” rest because, as Judith says, we are “addicted to distraction.”  Our hobbies and other leisure activities, while they are nourishing to our souls, are not the equivalent of rest.
This is where Restorative Yoga can help. It is a technique that actually manipulates the nervous system, inducing the “relaxation response”, a term coined by Herbert Benson, M.D. : "The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress... and the opposite of the fight or flight response."
There are scientific studies that prove that Restorative Yoga has positive effects on the nervous system.  It does take time.  It is recommended that a person spend at least 20 minutes in most restorative poses, because it takes at least that long for the body to relax.  Beyond that, the parasympathetic nervous system can begin to take over, quieting and soothing the mind and body, bringing about true rest.
The photos in this post were taken in my home and were a part of my research project for my certification in Restorative Yoga with Judith Lasater.  They show an example of a restorative pose called Side-lying  Savasana.  I really snuggled the participant in with this pose.  This was her first experience with Restorative Yoga, and I wanted it to be a good one.  She felt so pampered with the eye pillow in her palm and the cover over her eyes.  She loved this pose so much that one night she ended up sleeping there all night! 
Pre-pose set-up



  1. Thank you very much for putting this content together. It is very helpful and inspiring to see so many people share their experiences and unique perspectives on yoga!

    Restorative Yoga Poses

  2. You're very welcome, Julie. I've been away from my blog for quite some time. It's good to know someone still sees it! Planning to write some more soon. Take care, and thanks for reading. Susan