The Purpose of Restorative Yoga

yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What is the purpose of Restorative Yoga? All varieties of Yoga training provide holistic health support and good physical conditioning, in addition to promoting spiritual awareness; but one type is especially effective at reversing the effects of burnout, exhaustion, and fatigue.

Restorative Yoga differs from many other physical styles – in that it utilizes a wide variety of props, all designed to make the postures (asanas), as low impact, easy, and relaxing as possible. This is the Yoga of surrender; surrender of the body, mind, and, eventually, the spirit itself.

Life sometimes appears to work against us, rather than for us, and this struggle leads to stress, exhaustion, and even a low level of constant, latent anger. This continual background noise of negativity becomes a steady drain on energy levels, which will only continue to grow, if not addressed.

Restorative classes focus on being easily accessible for beginners from the very start. An entire asana session may consist of only a handful of poses, over the course of a 10-20 minute session; but because of the props, it is quite comfortable, despite the length.

A typical restorative style Yoga training session should be started with some mild warm-ups, to prepare the body for holding asanas, for an extended period of time. During the actual holding of the Yoga pose, props – such as blankets, pillows, blocks, bolsters, walls, towels, or mats, may be adjusted, as needed, until the sweet spot of comfort and support is reached.

Surprisingly, restorative training can be frustrating for some beginners, at first, because they are expecting too much, too soon. Restorative Yoga sessions utilize basic poses, in order to promote an easy surrender for the body, but the mind is often a different story. Sometimes, the quieter and more free the body feels, the more the mind chatters. This is because the ego feels threatened by the stillness and is seeking an escape. What better escape is there for the ego – than drawing attention to itself?

In this respect, restorative asanas run parallel to meditation, and the same amount of patience or non-attachment to outcome, is necessary for success. Simply put, there is no pressure. Either there will be stillness and relaxation, or there won’t be. It is not a problem. If the mind insists on racing, even when the body is relaxed and in perfect alignment, observe the mind and make that your meditation.

Eventually, the mind chatter will become silenced, and that blissful state of inner restoration and peace will become open to you. Restorative Yoga is excellent for anyone in need of recharging and inner peace.

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