As I walked into the Restorative Yoga studio for the first time, I found myself intrigued by the environment.
- By Sophie McLaughlin, Founder of Sport + Spirit
I really was intrigued, because it wasn’t your typical space with yoga mats and mirrors.
The room was filled with warmth in aroma and light and to top it off, you were invited to settle into your own personal yoga 'bed' surrounded by bolsters, blankets and blocks.
Was this a yoga class or a spa treatment?
I couldn’t tell. But I was excited to find out.
My first class was actually a full day retreat in the most beautiful setting, so I was able to really immerse myself in the practice. After experiencing a few stressful weeks prior, it was the wellness remedy I didn’t even know I needed.
I left the retreat with a new found love for the benefits of its passive, non-judgemental poses and vital breathing practices.
It was exactly what I needed and now I know why.
Beth Montgomery is a trained facilitator in Restorative Yoga practices and has a passion for sharing these powerful practices with her students.
Here’s what she has to say:
“There is a significant amount of quality research that supports the claims that there are physical and emotional benefits to including a meditation/mindful practice in our daily routine. The benefits that are well documented for Meditation are also true for Restorative Yoga.
In very simplistic terms the nervous system has two main responses, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest).We can think of the sympathetic as the stress response and the parasympathetic as the relaxation response.
Picture our nervous system on a toggle switch with these two responses on either side of the switch and understand the concept that our nervous system can only be toggled one way at a time. It is also important to note that the parasympathetic nervous system takes time to engage, often reported at a minimum of 15 minutes, whereas the sympathetic nervous system response is almost instantaneous.
The most widely recognized significant desirable physiological characteristics of the parasympathetic nervous system being engaged are lower heart, slower breath, lower blood pressure, and lower production of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of anxiety. There is some evidence to support improved brain function, higher concentration and better memory as well as increased creativity.
Additional studies find support for the immune system, some evidence of blood sugar regulation and some recent research with early findings that there are benefits to help support pain management. People with a regular practices often report they experience less insomnia with a regular restorative yoga practice. There are additional emotional benefits including, greater feelings of positivity, both the frequency and intensity and an overall better reported sense of wellbeing. Imagine then when the toggle switch goes the other way, to the sympathetic nervous system being activated, the opposite is true and all of these physiological and emotional benefits are compromised.
With Restorative Yoga, we set the conditions to allow and invite the parasympathetic or relaxation response to kick in.
As the body relaxes and muscle soften long held tension can begin to let go and the breathing slows down and the mind can begin to quiet. We hold these well supported poses for a minimum of 15 minutes allowing time for the magic to happen.”
So, here's my recommendation...
If you are in search of a few things to help you explore wellness, I recommend you search out a Restorative Yoga practice near you. It will give you a new found perspective on the impact of wellness practices on your health.