For some of us, moving into the new year can mean big changes. For others, it’s pretty much business as usual. Whether you’re trying to figure out a new flow to your days that will give you renewed energy and healing, or just trying to mix up a routine that hasn’t been working as well as it should, then restorative yoga might be for you.
Restorative yoga can improve sleep, relaxation, and healing. It’s a great technique for introducing a little calmness into your life, and making space for going slow in an otherwise busy schedule.
What Is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is the counterpoint to higher-speed, dynamic styles like Bikram or Vinyasa yoga. Instead of pushing your strength and flexibility and working up a sweat, restorative yoga means moving slowly through long holds and extended postures that ease you through layers of tension.
Doing restorative yoga poses is all about practicing stillness and gentle movement, which can sometimes be a chore for those of us who are so used to moving at top speed. You need to focus your willpower on maintaining your calm and easing through long poses — including ones that might stretch out muscles that don’t often get such extended attention.
The Benefits of Restorative Yoga
It can be hard to let yourself float off into these long poses and deep breathing exercises. But taking time for centering breathing and meditative focus has its benefits. Restorative yoga is often recommended for those who have trouble sleeping. The poses fit comfortably into a bedtime routine and get the body ready for the kind of deep, relaxing rest that everybody needs.
Because it stretches out your whole body gently in a calming space, the relaxing yoga exercise offers lots of other benefits and uses in relieving stress and improving mental clarity through meditation. It can help improve appetite and digestion by stretching out your core and reducing anxiety. Restorative yoga can even help reduce menstrual cramps.
Restorative yoga makes great use of props and relaxing atmosphere. More and more studios are offering restorative yoga classes, and each have a different take on the relaxing practice. One of our favorite New York City studios, Yoga Vida, offers restorative yoga classes that feature dim lighting and soft music, with a focus on helping the class with complete healing from athletic injuries and achieving total relaxation.