Meghan Johnston discusses how restorative yoga introduces the art of relaxation and supports our nervous system and overall stress levels.
Benefits: This pose is great for releasing your low back and relieving tension in your legs after standing or sitting for long periods of time. It also takes pressure of the sacroiliac joint and hips.
To set-up: Bring your legs over a chair, with the option to bring blankets underneath the length of your spine if the chair feels a bit too high. You also might bring a blanket under the knees and calves. Your weight should be in the middle of the sacrum.
You might position a blanket under the head, with the chin slightly lower than the forehead to quiet the mind. If there is any tension in the neck, try creating a roll in the blanket that just fills the space between the curve of your neck and the ground.
Focus: Invite a sense of ease and stillness as you relax your body. Don’t worry if the mind wanders, but if you notice it wandering invite it back to the intention of cultivating ease and stillness.
Elevated Chest Pose
This pose is a student favourite! Often deep levels of relaxation are experienced here as a result of the elevated angle of the chest.
Benefits: The elevated angle of this pose helps to transition the body into a deeper Parasympathetic state. The pose also helps to open the chest and lungs.
To set-up: Elevate a bolster by placing a block underneath on the middle height. Lay down over top of the bolster and place a blanket underneath the head. Position additional support under the knees and ankles using bolsters or blankets. If the arms do not rest on the ground place blocks or blankets underneath to feel more supported.
Focus: Invite a sense of heaviness into your muscles and bones as you allow the body to relax into the props beneath you. Let yourself feel supported here. When the mind wanders, come back to the intention of feeling supported in stillness.
Stillness & Resilience
Since adopting a regular restorative yoga practice I have noticed that both my body and my mind are more resilient. I am more deeply connected with the workings of my nervous system as I transition between states of stress and recovery with more ease and grace. I have noticed significant improvements in my immune system, my sleep, and my mood. Restorative yoga has become an irreplaceable part of my own self-care routine.
My practice also fuels my teaching. On busy days, you’ll find me in between classes settling into a restorative pose to ensure that I have the energy to bring my best self forward for my students. I believe stillness is one of the most transformational but undervalued tools for our healing. Try adding a restorative pose into your day and explore the benefits of deep rest!