As we head towards winter, the days becoming shorter and colder, most wildlife either hibernating, migrating or just physically move more slowly. This is reflected in nature as it too slows down, trees shedding their leaves and going to sleep for the winter. Unfortunately, this is not an option for us, humans. For most of us carry on being busy, with no conscious thought of seasonal adjustment to change our routines and take some relaxation time. While an active life can build strength and resilience we must not forget recovery time. We need to rest. A restorative yoga class allows you to recover fully from all the stresses and strains of life by relaxing muscles, lowering your heart rate and allowing your nervous system to pause. My students tell me that after a restorative yoga class they not only feel more relaxed but also more focused and effective.
Yoga has a great value in decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. When this hormone is high it is associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Restorative yoga helps release tense muscles, releasing aching joints and moves the mind and body quickly from a stressed activated state to a tranquil and peaceful state. What I find interesting is that it invokes a conscious approach to relaxation which is extremely empowering for students. My students report that they sleep extremely well after a restorative class, which completes the job of fully restoring the nervous system, processing memories and emotions and recharging our energy levels.
The reason we do Savasana at the end of every class is to help restore the body and mind. It was B.K.S Iyengar who was the first to systematically develop restorative sequences, which he designed to help people with health challenges, injuries and exhaustion. In our hectic society we are programmed to be constantly on the go and perhaps we can feel guilty if we are not doing something ‘productive’. Therefore, in some respects it can be hard to completely relax and allow our body and mind to renew. If we rise to the challenge and regularly restore ourselves through yoga, in my experience there is a great capacity for personal growth and connection, profound relaxation and true well-being.