Best benefits of restorative yoga:
Restorative yoga offers the practitioner an opportunity to explore different aspects and benefits of practice that are often overshadowed by more dynamic styles.
A restorative yoga practice frequently relies on the use of props, prolonged holding in safely aligned asana sequences, meditation, pranayama and relaxation. Excellent for active physical recovery, balance, stress management,a restorative yoga class can explore different safe alignment skills through therapeutic themes.
Let’s take a look at Child’s pose (balasana)
Active childs pose
This is often called a resting pose, and can certainly be that. The variation in the above photo is dynamic, and often used as a preparation for downward facing dog. The props are used to wake up the spine and the shoulders as well as encourage conscious breathing into the back body. In a vinyasa, holding the pose for 5 or 10 breaths can offer the practitioner a break from the activity of the practice. However, many students cannot actually ‘let go’ in the pose, whether due to stiffness or pain or just inability to perform it safely. So…is it really restorative?
Now take a look below. Here, props are used to bring the pose to the person, encourage release, and the arms are taken out of the equation. There is no pulling, but the arms lines, shoulders, hips and spine are safely letting go of tension.
I encourage you to uncover some of the benefits! Restorative Yoga Classes can be booked privately or check my Calendar
restorative child’s pose
The Modern Yogini in Savasana
Breathing and the Art of Relaxation: The photo itself is full of life and energy. There is a vibrant stillness and you can almost hear the sound of the babbling brook. Your breathing is naturally going to reflect the slower pace that your eyes are taking in. If you live a stressful, city life, the concrete and hustle and bustle, sirens, cars and general noise probably affect your breath tempo and quality in quite the opposite way.
It doesn’t have to be this way if you learn how to consciously relax, how to consciously monitor and pace your breathing. That is what the art of pranayama is about. Using techniques that can effect changes to heart rate, digestion, cellular function. To disengage the mind through your breath can induce a more calm feeling throughout. You certainly will have a harder time clenching your jaw or stiffening your shoulders when you are using relaxed, and conscious breathing. This will signal the nervous system that you are safe, in ‘control’, calm and prepared.
In the restorative yoga class I often teach passive chest openers to soften the restrictions in this area, in the shoulders, and upper back. Tight muscles often reflect in a tight and short breath. There are certainly some easy and fulfilling set ups with props that can do the trick, so if you want to learn, book a private or come to class
breathing for relaxation
Supported Pranayama Practice
Supported Pranayama Practice can be used as an alternative to classical Savasana, and has many benefits, especially when the right props are used
Using props to support the torso in Savasana has many benefits:
- Especially with beginner students who tend to fall asleep during relaxation, this variation keeps students more alert than in classical Savasana
- Due to the elevation of the torso, it reduces nasal congestion
- The props help to support the shoulders and neck as well as open the chest
- The strategic placement of yoga props will aid students in feeling the alignment of their back ribs and the different components of breathing
- The support will help to roll the tops of the shoulder blades back, whereas many people suffer from the postural imbalances of rounding shoulders and forward head
- Improves breath awareness and helps to teach proper breathing patterns
- Is a lovely alternative to seated mindfulness, as the student can relax the lower body.
How to use props in supported pranayama practice
supported reclining pose for pranayama
In the photo above, please note that we used what we had at hand. In lieu of an eye bag, we used the student’s soft sweatshirt. We also had one yoga mat, 4 of the 3 Minute Eggs and one standard bolster. For my favorite yoga props, click here. You can make substitutions or additions as needed. I will give you the directions for what is pictured.
- Position your bolster parallel to the mat with 2 eggs underneath the top end.
- Recline over the bolster, keeping the small of your back against the bottom end of your bolster.
- Allow your arms to rest, here we used the eggs to alleviate the pull and meet the students needs.
- Allow your legs to stretch out , and separate, and relax.
cultivating inner strength through yoga practice; “Make a firm decision: Whatever happens, I will be happy, I will be strong, God is always with me”. Very affirmative. Maybe you can’t digest all of it, but the sentiment behind the words is very inner strength building. Yoga is a multi-dimensional practice aimed at quieting the mind so that we can live a healthy, balanced life, make informed choices, and face our circumstances with flexibility and resilience…..but it is a very conscious process. We have to use discipline in many areas and as much as possible, remind ourselves that when we are challenged, we often have reserves that if we tap into, if we decide to tap into, we can rise to the challenge with softness and strength, stability and ease.
We tend to think of strength as brute force, but I think it is more of an integration (mindbodysoul). I just read an article in Psychology Today in which the author says; “a strong person has great capability at facing challenges. Being strong means having the resources, the mental skills, and the physical capabilities to confront difficulties of all kinds. When you are strong, you have the ample excess of energy and stamina, so that when facing a challenge that depletes you of energy and inner strength, you still have enough left in you to act”
After reading this, maybe you can come to see that the softer sides of yoga ~ pranayama, relaxation, restoratives, meditation, all help to cultivate inner strength
Find Peace This Weekend in Jersey City cause I am teaching an all new restorative yoga class … peace – do you find it elusive?
Restorative Yoga Class Jersey City ~ Restorative Yoga: This is exactly what is being recommended as a Yoga practice to promote recovery. Whether you are an athlete and find it hard to rebalance from high energy workouts, or whether the daily grind leaves you worn out, restorative yoga is fast becoming the new go-to practice. This is a series not to be missed as it promotes flexibility and the rest and digest mechanisms necessary for optimum health. Learn strategic prop supported “being” and “still” asanas that deepen your experience of yoga. Whether you are new to yoga, looking to refine your yoga practice, or balance out an active existence, this series will give you the opportunity as well as provide you with relaxation and breathing techniques to combat the stresses of daily life. The class is a 1 hour 35 minute format, and will also cover pranayama and savasana. Come chill! Here’s the link to the calendar: http://ranawaxman.com/calendar/
Not convinced? check this out “Their findings showed that the restorative yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat over the initial 6 months of the study period, and kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision. There was no significant loss of visceral fat in either group.” and the following article which stresses the crucial role of recovery: “Without question, yoga provides excellent opportunities for recovery. But restorative yoga—a specific, passive style of this popular mind-body technique—can be of particular use to fitness professionals with stressed-out, maxed-out clients. Here are practical strategies for introducing restoratives into your client’s everyday routines to promote recovery and relaxation…Restorative yoga combats fatigue, balances tight muscles, reduces overtraining injuries, speeds recovery from illness or injury, and reduces depression and anxiety”
Favourite quote of all-time
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” ~ Aristotle
Healthy habits: creating healthy habits and encouraging positive transformation is built into the yogic system
I think I also read ‘we form habits then they form us’. As a Yoga professional, I see Yoga as much more than fitness, it is self-transformation (agree with Joel Kramer)…As a balanced system and practice, gives us tools to substitute comfort for tension, peace for panic, and emotional perspective instead of blockages.
What are some of your healthy and unhealthy habits? Are there any you would like to change? Day to day life loads our system with obvious and subliminal stress which depletes our energy and leads to restlessness and fatigue, among other issues. Asana and pranayama become yogic tools to benefit us by releasing tension and bringing us to a state of conscious relaxation ~ being aware and also, relaxed. In this state, we tend to make better choices. One of the most interesting things I have read is a statement by Gary Krafstow, that “asana practice is not fundamentally about the asanas, but about the practitioner…As a tool of personal transformation, asana can function at many levels of our human system.”
yoga basics: come join me at 9:30 Sundays for yoga basics class in Jersey City
“yoga is not for the flexible, it’s for the willing” love it!
I am teaching this morning, a basics class, called FUNdamentals. Each week we break down some of the essential skills in asana and pranayama, and try to fit in a little practical yoga wisdom so that you leave feeling refreshed and inspired. Last week we worked on backbends. This week we are going to work on standing poses. All standing poses begin with Tadasana, mountain pose. Also referred to as samasthiti, which means pose of balance, this one pose establishes the fundamentals of alignment that are required for al other standing poses. Look for creating symmetry and stability.
The key ingredient to any pose is awareness, even if you can’t somehow access a certain area in your body, or movement that is asked of you. In this pose we look for a neutral pelvis, and a lengthening from kneecaps up.. It is also a great pose to investigate how you place your head, whether you thrust your chin forward or drop your head back. We look to lengthen the back of the neck and lift from the crown of the head upwards. Any gains in flexibility, by the way, happen when you are not struggling, and you are able to hold a posture for a length of time, as opposed to just 3 breaths. Join us or contact me for a one-one!
Nurturing The Spirit With Yoga
“It is not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” ~ Mandy Hale
According to the yogic system, it is the fluctuations of the mind that impose themselves on the body and thus bring about mental and physical imbalance. The remedy if you will, is a focused and dedicated practice of asana and pranayama to calm the agitated mind, or wake up the sleepy mind, and balance out our system, thus preventing disease. While this may mean that restoratives are called for, it may also mean that a stronger practice (like standing poses) is a better recipe.
As always, you need to start where you are. Usually we just do more of the same, whereas your practice should be organic. The balance between the more active and passive postures will vary from person to person, and season to season. Too much of the active practice can still exhaust you, too much passive can lead to lethargy. I usually teach both constituents in my classes but in private yoga lessons, the practice will specifically address the student. I also have two upcoming workshops which will give you some idea of how restorative practices can be used to enhance calm and support the immune system.
I find this interesting: “Lymph glands are scattered throughout the body, including between muscle fibres. The muscle is literally helping to pump the gland to effectuate lymphatic flow. Hence, inactive muscles impact on the lymphatic function” ~ Pete Egoscue
Always add relaxation. It is the integrating factor.
Nurturing The Spirit With Yoga
Yoga – Tension Tamer
It’s hot summer and tempers can flare. Sometimes an active yoga session is less desirable than a restorative one. That’s why you need tension taming tools in your yoga practice toolkit.
Here is a great set up for mindfulness and is also a great way to practice pranayama lying down. We positioned a bolster with a shelf of folded blanket so that the forehead is higher than the chin, shoulders cascade. Small of the back is snuggled right up to the end of the bolster. Student on right side needed a little extra blanket support for lumbar. I especially like this variation because it opens the chest, so if you sit rounded over a computer a lot (or driving), it will give you a little extra something special.
For those with very busy minds, you have to look upon this pose and the time spent in it as a practice to soothe tension, without actively chasing any thoughts away. Your best bet is to acknowledge thoughts and emotions without getting lost in them; remain a calm witness on a journey. Naturally, the first few minutes, the mind may fight you off, so see if you can just make up your mind to be in it for 5 minutes or more, to really feel the effects of settling in and settling down
“The purpose of pranayama is to make the respiratory system functin at its best. This automatically improves the circulatory system, without which the processes of digestion and elimination would suffer. Toxins would accumulate, diseases spread through the body and ill-health becomes habitual” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Pranayama
Do you have tension in the neck, shoulders and lower back? Do you complain about headaches, poor sleeping habits, fatigue, stomach aches and high levels of stress ?
Maybe you do not breathe well. Part of a balanced yoga practice frees muscular restrictions which impede healthy breathing. I have some basic breathing practices on my Yoga Mind Cd and am available for private yoga classes to address your particular needs. There are also a few articles I have written online with practices you can check out.