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  • Writer's pictureshannonkyeager

Why Restorative Yoga Can Help You Unwind and Reduce Stress

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Slow down and discover the benefits of restorative yoga to find balance, relieve anxiety and alleviate chronic stress.



With long to-do lists and the internet present in pretty much everything we do, it can be hard to turn off the brain and rest.


I can relate to this — I have a jam-packed schedule and constantly feel the need to accomplish tasks. Recently, I started to notice the effects of chronic stress and anxiety in my mind and my body. I was having a hard time focusing on one task at a time. I would wake up with a headache from clenching my jaw. Something inside me was telling me to slow down.


Ironically, the need to slow down manifested into signing up for a 30 hour restorative yoga training with Gabrielle Blachley at Trilogy Sanctuary (in typical “type A” fashion). But the moment I laid my head on the bolster, I knew I found exactly what I needed.


What is Restorative Yoga?

In Relax and Renew, Judith Hanson Lasater refers to restorative poses as “active relaxation. By supporting the body with props, we alternatively stimulate and relax the body to move toward balance.” Restorative yoga entails holding poses for longer than hatha and vinyasa yoga (sometimes between 5-20 minutes for each posture). When compared to yin yoga, restorative yoga involves more props so less effort is needed, allowing you to find comfort and release tension.


My typical yoga style often matches my lifestyle — fiery, fast-paced and fun. I didn’t know how much I needed restorative yoga until I found myself supported in a child's pose with all my thoughts melting away.


Why is Restorative Yoga Powerful?

Restorative yoga can be used as a tool to heal the mind, body and soul. The poses can improve mental well-being by aiding sleep and providing emotional resilience. Additionally, restorative yoga can improve physical well-being by reducing muscle tension and pain, stimulating digestion and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (AKA the rest and digest system). It can help you reduce anxiety so you can stop living in a constant state of overwhelm.


That last piece was incredibly transformative for me. Taking the time to unwind made the heavy load I had been carrying more bearable. I was able to turn inward and witness the present moment.


Principles of Restorative Yoga

These principles can help you make the most of your time in each posture.

  • Learn to be comfortable and heal through stillness - we often spend so much time “doing” but this practice cultivates the skill of conscious relaxation so you can just “be”

  • Create a sacred space with limited distractions - find a cozy spot in your home with plenty of room for your mat and props. Dim the lights and set an intention for your practice

  • Breathe deeply allowing the belly to expand - when the body is stressed, the breath is shallow. Breathing through the belly and expanding the diaphragm helps invoke the “rest and digest” state

  • Support yourself to fully relax, surrender and heal - props are your best friend in restorative poses. You can use a bolster or a large pillow, blocks or books, and a blanket or a towel to find more ease

  • Adjust, readjust and adjust again - if a posture doesn’t feel restful or comfortable, move your body until it does, experiment with different positions or find a different pose altogether that feels right for you


Are you ready to slow down, unwind and reconnect? I filmed a 30 minute restorative yoga sequence to try at home.



I hope that by taking time for self-care, you can recharge, feel lighter and find more balance. Be patient with yourself as you explore this practice. If I can support you in person or virtually, please send me a message in the contact form of the home page. If you found the video helpful, share it with your friends and family and leave me a comment below letting me know which pose was your favorite.


With gratitude,

Shannon

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