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Weekly Class Theme: Renewal

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

When I hear the word “renewal” I think of new beginnings, starting fresh, or opening a new chapter. I think of bringing something to life again…reviving what was once old into something new and fresh. The season which might come to mind is springtime when the flowers bloom, temps become warmer, and things seem to brighten as compared to the cooler and darker winter months.

However, here we find ourselves approaching winter as this post is being written discussing renewal. Upon thinking about this further, it actually makes perfect sense that renewal be discussed now as opposed to a few months down the road.

Like most things in life, the seasons run through a cycle. Spring becomes summer which becomes fall and then winter before back to spring again. Humans are actually intended to run though cycles with the seasonal changes. Winter calls for us to hunker down, reflect on what’s been done throughout the year, rest and prepare for our eventual emerging from the darkness so that we can effectively show up rested and renewed.

Springtime might be when we show up but the work to adequately do so is done prior to our arrival. During these darker days when seasonal depression may be present for some, perhaps we can look at this time as necessary preparation for our eventual renewed sense of self.

Peak Pose: Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Janu Sirsana being a forward folding posture felt appropriate for the theme of renewal. It calls for an understanding of the legs and pelvis as we fold into ourselves. It’s also the perfect setup for Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana or the revolved, and more open variation of this pose. Think winter going into spring… 🙂

Supporting Pose 1: Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Baddha Konasana is a relatively simple way to get students into an externally rotated position of the legs at the hips and offers a widening of the groin.

How to:

  1. Sit on the ground with the soles of the feet together and knees wide. Try to bring the heels of the feet close to the groin.
  2. Take your hands to your ankles and fold the torso over the feet attempting to bring the chest out and over the feet.
  3. Bend the elbows back and use the elbows to encourage the lengthening of the inner thighs.
  4. Once the spine is lengthened, allow the head to relax.

Supporting Pose 2: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Doesn’t the lower half of this pose look familiar? Tree pose calls for an almost identical set up in the lower half of the body compared to Janu Sirsasana.

How to:

  1. Stand in mountain pose.
  2. Bring the right leg up and fold the leg at the knee. Folded leg means to fold the leg in half and bring the lower leg to meet the upper leg.
  3. Open the right leg at the hip and press the right foot into the left groin.
  4. Widen the right knee to lengthen the inner thigh and press the sacrum forward.
  5. Keep the left leg straight and reach the arms overhead.

Supporting Pose 3: Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Pyramid is a forward folding pose and allows the practitioner to focus on straightening the legs. This is necessary for our peak pose as in Janu Sirsasana one leg is folded and one is straightened.

How to:

  1. From low lunge with the right leg forward, straighten the legs and lift the hips towards the ceiling. You can keep the back heel lifted or adjust it to lower the heel down for a more traditional pyramid.
  2. Lift the kneecaps to invite integrity into the legs and press the right hip crease back in space.
  3. Fold over the front leg bringing the nose towards the knee. Blocks are an option here.

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

How to:

  1. Sit on the ground with both legs extended forward.
  2. Fold the right leg, bringing the heel of the foot towards the right bum.
  3. Open the right leg at the hip allowing the knee to work towards the floor and pull the knee back some so that the pelvis is in an open position. The pelvis should be in a similar position as to seated straddle fold as opposed to a seated straight leg pose.
  4. Turn the torso over the left extended leg, which should be clear and straight with the toes spread.
  5. Fold over the left leg away from the right leg bringing the nose towards the knee.

 

Woman taking headstand on a yoga mat

Weekly Class Theme: Relaxation ✨

By Yoga Teachers

When I think of relaxation, I often think of sitting on the couch throwing my feet up on a footrest or going for a long massage. Relaxation can totally mean these things, and people may use these activities to relax, but what exactly is relaxation?

True relaxation occurs when there is a total calming of the nervous system. Our nervous system is the part of our body which includes our brain, spinal cord, and nerves. It controls all of our functions by sending messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, like your limbs and organs, whether they are conscious (by our control) or unconscious (automatic). When our nervous system is calm, there is a message which goes from the brain saying “we are safe to relax” to the rest of the body, which regulates our blood flow, digestion, and overall stress response.

On the flip side, if your nervous system is jacked up because you’re thinking about the disagreement you had with your supervisor right before you left work, for example, your brain will most likely be sending a different type of message to the rest of the body. It doesn’t matter how long of a massage you get. If your nervous system is fired up, it will be hard to truly relax no matter the circumstances.

The truth is, if we can learn to calm our nervous system we can be relaxed any time we choose. We don’t have to wait till our bums hit the couch or until we make that next spa appointment. We can be relaxed right here and right now through practices which allow us to come back to ourselves and live with non-attachment. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and talk therapy are all ways in which to become more relaxed.

In terms of asana, there are poses which are very intentional in calming and regulating our nervous system. In the Iyengar method, headstand and shoulder stand are traditionally practiced at the end of the asana practice because it prepares the body for full surrender by reversing blood flow back towards the heart which is a signal that it’s time to relax.

Supporting Pose #1: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Girl in Mountain Pose

Mountain pose is the blueprint for all other asanas and when taught intentionally can inform your students’ bodies with knowledge for the peak pose. In headstand we are looking to get vertical and so it would be wise to get vertical on the feet before doing it on the head!

How to:

  1. Stand with your feet either hip width apart or together. Since headstand is the peak pose, feet together might be a better option.
  2. Lift and spread the toes and lift the kneecaps up so the legs can be straight and clear.
  3. Take the arms by your side with your middle finger in line with the center of your thigh.
  4. Align the torso by firming the sacrum forward, firming the front ribs in, and widening the corners of the chest.
  5. Bring the head into neutral by slightly lifting the back of the skull.

Supporting Pose #2: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

How to:

  1. From a tabletop position, walk your hands forward one hand print and walk your knees back a touch. Tuck your toes and lift your hips towards the sky.
  2. Straighten your arms as you lengthen your spin, firm the upper back in, and allow the head to drop between your biceps.
  3. Try to deepen the frontal hip pockets by lifting the sit bones up as you press your thighs back and lift the kneecaps to straighten your legs and drop the heels any amount.
  4. If you need, you can widen your hands and feet and it might feel good to keep the heels elevated off the floor.

Supporting Pose #3: Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Wide Leg Forward Fold

How to:

  1. Turn towards a side wall and widen your feet towards the front and back edges of the mat with the feet parallel to one another or slightly turned in. This is to encourage the inward spiral of the legs.
  2. Take your hands to your hips and lengthen your spine as your fold between your legs.
  3. Use your legs to fold, so lift and spread your toes, lift the kneecaps, press the roots of your thighs back as you lift the sit bones to allow the crown of the head to go down towards the floor.
  4. Bring your palms to the ground and walk them back so they are in line with your feet. Attempt to get the fingers in line with the arches of the feet. Keep the fingers and toes going in the same direction.
  5. Slightly tuck the chin and pull the crown of the head to the ground. Once the head is on the ground (you can use a block or blanket if the head doesn’t touch the floor), firm the upper back in to create integrity through the upper back and chest.

Peak Pose: Headstand (Sirsasana A)

How to:

  1. From tabletop, bring your forearms to the ground and interlace your fingers so that your arms and hands are making a triangle base. You can release the pinky fingers forward so they are not getting smushed.
  2. Nestle the crown of your head to the floor with the heels of your hands against the back of your skull. This is in opposition to having the palms of your hands flat against the back of your skull in an open interlace position.
  3. Press the crown of the head into the floor to lengthen the neck and firm the upper back in to create integrity through the upper back and chest.
  4. Tuck the toes and lift the knees and hips.
  5. Straighten the legs by lifting and spreading the toes, lift the kneecaps, and press the roots of the thighs back.
  6. Attempt to keep the legs straight as you take a straight leg march in to bring the feet towards the elbows. As the feet come closer to the elbows, keep firming the upper back in so the back does not excessively round.
  7. Once the hips are at their highest point, take one straight leg to the sky (be sure to keep your legs firm), shift the hips over the chest and float the other leg up to meet the top leg.
  8. Bring the feet together, keep the legs firm and upper back firm as you press the balls of the feet towards the ceiling.
  9. Stay for ~2 minutes and slowly split the legs to take one foot gently down followed by the other. Rest in child’s pose and then come to supported bridge to lengthen the back of the neck.

What Should I Know Before Taking a Restorative Yoga Class?

By Yoga Asana

I have to admit I have a very “Type A” personality, which means that the idea of spending a significant amount of time in some kind of stillness never really appealed to me. I always felt like I needed to be doing something active to feel like I was getting some kind of physical benefit. It never occurred to me that I needed to work on restoring my physical body and my energy until I really began to feel burnt out.

I’d been working in New York City as a full time yoga teacher and I was running around a lot. Even Though I was teaching and practicing vinyasa yoga, I would come home and feel incredibly burnt out. Friends and family would always assume that I should be relaxed and calm because I taught and practiced yoga, but I was hitting a point where I’d never felt more tired and on edge in my life.

One evening, after years of avoiding it,I finally booked a restorative yoga class. The class began with a little bit of movement and then eventually we started to set up a bunch of props and were told to just relax. Immediately, my mind started to wander and I thought of all of the other things I could have been doing. Once those thoughts passed, I actually started to feel like I could unwind. I wasn’t too sure how long we were in the first pose, but it felt like just enough time for my mind to slow down and my body to let go.

The class continued on just like that. We’d set up in a restorative pose and remain in it for a period of time. Once that time was up, the teacher calmly took us out of the pose and instructed us into another. The class ended with the longest savasana I’d ever had, and I didn’t mind it one bit. When I got home, I felt like my head was much clearer and I felt like my body was rejuvenated. This was a feeling I’d been seeking for a very long time, but didn’t realize restorative yoga was the key to becoming more balanced. After that, I was hooked!

Restorative yoga may seem like a mysterious thing, but there are some really accessible ways to break it down:

Restorative yoga is a practice that helps the body integrate and heal

Restore means to recuperate or replenish. Yoga means union.

Through restorative yoga, you allow your body to reach a place of relaxation that brings together recuperation and replenishment. This creates the perfect environment for healing to take place. We all have the ability to heal, but a lot of us live in a high-stress or fast-paced environment. Whether it’s your office, your family, or your general living situation causing you to move out of balance, the stress or the lack of rest will eventually catch up to you and you’ll feel depleted. Restorative yoga is just what you need to finally pump the brakes and allow your body to rest and recharge.

Restorative yoga isn’t like vinyasa or hatha yoga

In both vinyasa yoga and hatha yoga, there is movement from one pose to the next and you’re on your feet for the majority of the class. In restorative yoga, the practice is focused strictly on rest and relaxation. Restorative yoga keeps you in one place and the majority of the class takes place on the ground. There are also a lot of props involved in the practice, which make the poses really comfortable and accessible to a wide range of people and to all different bodies.

You’re going to use yoga props

I have to admit that in my early days of practicing yoga, I used to think that needing a prop meant that I wasn’t doing great at something in the yoga practice. As I began to practice more and eventually teach, I realized that yoga props are like an extension of the practice. They’re helpful, supportive, and all around amazing!

If you’re in a restorative yoga class, you’re most likely going to use props like bolsters, blocks, blankets, straps, and chairs. Sometimes you’ll use only one or two of these props and other times you’ll use all of them. The props are used to help promote the deepest level of relaxation to alleviate the effects that stress has left. This will bring your body to a place where it can tap into its natural resources to establish equilibrium.
The goal of restorative yoga is to establish self-regulation in your body.

The point of restorative yoga

Unlike other forms of yoga where the goal may be to stretch or strengthen your muscles, restorative yoga’s goal is to bring your body to a place where it can find homeostasis, or balance. If you think about it, a lot of the physical activities you do may actually take your body out of balance so it can become stronger. This is great to do as long as you’re also doing something that gives your body the time and space to recover and heal.

You may also live in an environment that has a lot of mental or emotional stress, which are things that you need the time and space to come back to balance from. Your body and your nervous system need a way to rest and recover. Restorative yoga gives these things to you so you can feel well. It’s always shocking to me that more people aren’t taking restorative classes these days!

Restorative yoga poses are easily adaptable

With the use of props, almost everyone can practice restorative yoga. The poses are designed to meet you where you are, so you can take a restorative class at almost any time! Unlike many other styles of yoga, you can adjust the poses to fit you and accommodate your needs for the day or for anything that may be going on in your body.

I’ve practiced restorative yoga when I’ve pushed my body too far, when I’ve been injured, when I’ve been tired, and when I’ve been over-stimulated. Each time, the poses have helped me move away from any extremes I was feeling in my body or mind and return to a place where I was centered and well. Since the poses can be easily adapted, they can sometimes also be done anywhere and for as long as you need.

Sometimes, you only need five minutes

My favorite thing about restorative yoga is that you don’t need to dedicate a full hour to it if you don’t have the time. In fact, if you feel like you need to have another cup of coffee during an afternoon slump, you can take about five minutes to come into one restorative pose instead. This can help your body rest and work like a natural reset.

Poses such as supported backbends and supported twists can be taken on those coffee breaks, before you pick up the kids, or when you get home from work to energize yourself and show up a little bit brighter for your family and loved ones. Giving yourself a few moments to take care of yourself is something the restorative practice offers and encourages. If you have more time to practice a full-length class, great! But you don’t always need to!

A full length restorative class will give you many of the same benefits as a vinyasa or hatha class

If you teach vinyasa or hatha classes, you probably already know the concept of a well rounded class. This often means that you are moving your spine in all directions. There is also a beginning, middle, and end. You will move forward and back, side to side, and lateral.

Energetically, your body and mind will start to clear away what isn’t serving it and will begin to align with what is. This is something you experience while in class, on your yoga mat. Then, you’ll be able to take these benefits with you out into the world and into your relationship with yourself and the people around you.

You will truly understand Savasana

In a restorative yoga class, you may practice Savasana for up to twenty minutes. This may sound either like a luxury or like torture. The more you practice and embrace restorative yoga, the more luxurious Savasana becomes! Restorative teachers are trained to notice when students are experiencing frustration, restlessness, fatigue, or discomfort. They’re able to help you set up this final resting pose for you to be in a place where you’re receiving all of its benefits.

Restorative teachers know that relaxation can be harder than it looks and they’re trained to assist you in finding what works for you.

Want to learn more about restorative yoga?

Whether you’d like to teach restorative or simply learn more about the practice and the different ways to structure a class for yourself and your practice, we have a training that we just know you’ll love! Check out our restorative yoga teacher training with Joanne Silver and Keely Garfield today!

 

Weekly Class Theme: Love ❤️

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

When sitting down to write this class theme on love, I actually found myself getting a little stumped. I feel like the word love is heard and shared often. We talk about how much we love someone or something. We talk about how important love is. We talk about cultivating love and the joy of being in love. There are books on love, poems on love, and it always seems that the highest rated podcasts are about love.

Love is like this thing that all humans are after…and for good reason. Love is one of the highest frequency emotions. When we talk about emotions, we are talking about energy in motion. As human beings, we’re constantly emitting an energy frequency. We have the option to emit high frequency emotions such as freedom, bliss, and love or low frequency emotions such as anger, jealousy, and guilt. Living with those high frequency emotions allow us to live in and experience the present moment to the fullest.

Love particularly, whether it be shared within or with another, has the ability to break down walls and stand with integrity. Love guides us towards full acceptance of oneself and those around us. Love supports us in honoring others’ needs and boundaries while at the same time honoring our own.

Because love is so sweet, I feel as if it is perceived as something that is rare. Only to be achieved if and when we are in some sort of relationship with another. But the truth is that love can and dare I say, should, be cultivated within to live in a constant state of love. I do believe the key to life and everything we desire is love. If we can live a life where we are completely and utterly in love with ourselves, then everything we have ever wanted is within reach.

Supporting Pose 1: Hero’s Pose (Virasana)

Virasana gets the shins and ankles on the ground prepping for the eventual peak pose. It also teaches to hug the outer ankle bones in so that the ankle can be properly aligned for weight support.

How to:

  1. Sit on your mat with smooth shins, aka tops of the feet flat on the ground.
  2. Nestle your bum between your feet and hug the outer ankle bones in around the sides of your bum. An option would be to sit on a block with the outer ankle bones firming in around the sides of the block.
  3. Bring your knees towards one another so they are not splaying out unconsciously and press the shins into the ground.
  4. Sit well with the head, chest, pelvis in line with one another.

Supporting Pose 2: Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Extended side angle is a great pose to prep for dancing camel. For one, it gets into the inner groin muscles a bit which assists in backbending. This pose also requires the sacrum to have some forward movement so that the hips don’t jut back into space which would put the pelvis out of alignment. And three, the arm being overhead mimics the arm position in dancing camel.

How to:

  1. From warrior 2, hinge at the right hip and bring your right forearm to your right thigh. You can also place your hand to the ground or to a block outside your leg.
  2. Widen your right knee so the inner thigh is long, press the root of your left thigh back, and firm your sacrum forward. All these actions done together hopefully create good alignment in the lower body.
  3. Take your left arm overhead and alongside your ear and open the corners of your chest. Firm the shoulder blades towards one another to assist with the open chest and the top arm alongside your ear.
  4. Turn your belly and chest towards the side wall.

Supporting Pose 3: Wild Thing (Camatkarasana)

Wild thing has many similarities to dancing camel. This pose teaches the appropriate actions of the head, neck, arms, upper back, chest, and pelvis. It also carries a similar vibe as this pose too has a somewhat “dancing” aspect to it.

How to:

  1. From downward facing dog, lift the right leg off the floor for three-legged dog.
  2. Bend the right knee and open the hip.
  3. Start to flip your dog by bringing the right foot towards the floor behind you and simultaneously rotating the left heel to ground similar to what you would see in warrior 2.
  4. Lift your right arm off the ground and as your belly and chest begin to face upward reach the right arm overhead alongside your ear.
  5. Press your left hand into the ground, press your sacrum up towards the sky, and firm the upper back in to achieve this backbend.
  6. To exit, soften your knees to flip back over to downward facing dog.

Peak Pose: Dancing Camel (Ustrasana)

Camel itself is such a beautiful heart opener. Add in the “dancing” portion and now we’re really talking about moving through the sweet flow of life. The breath and body being in sync through the fluid movements creates a feeling of coherency and love.

How to:

  1. Come to a kneeling position with smooth shins.
  2. As you inhale, lift the bum away from the heels of the feet to a high kneeling position.
  3. Firm the outer ankle bones in so there’s integrity along the outer edges of the feet and shins.
  4. Press your sacrum forward as you reach your right arm back (and bring the right shoulder blade towards your spine) to connect your right hand to your right heel.
  5. Sweep the left arm across your face and over your head alongside your ear. Firm the shoulder blades in.
  6. On your exhale, come to center (release the hand from the foot and bring your bum to your heels).
  7. On your inhale repeat on the other side. Continue to “dance” back and forth moving with your breath for 4-10 rounds or when it feels intuitive to stop.
Girl in Warrior I on yoga mat

Weekly Class Theme: Gratitude ✨

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Being immersed in the holiday spirit makes it a wonderful time to focus on the driving force behind it all: gratitude.

But, what exactly is gratitude and how do we bring gratitude effectively into our lives on a regular basis?

Gratitude comes from the latin root word “gratus,” which means “pleasing” or “thankful.”  Gratitude is a high frequency emotion, so when it is the main emotion present, lower frequency emotions such as: anger, resentment, or jealousy don’t have as much room to shine… if any at all.

When gratitude is tied simply to each present moment as opposed to being tied to attachments such as material items, life becomes a wild, beautiful ride. When we learn to be grateful not only for the categorically good things we have in our lives, but also the challenges we face and the pain that teaches us lessons, life itself becomes a reason in itself to express gratitude.

It is possible to live everyday with gratitude. We don’t need a particular day, although a particular day can indeed catalyze one’s journey!

✨ Mini practice for gratitude: Try to sit in meditation for 5-10 minutes focusing on the emotion of gratitude. Try to open your heart to the actual feeling of gratitude. You might use past experiences or imagine what gratitude would feel like in your body. Repeat this daily! (and of course, you can use your mat as an invitation to put yourself in such a state through your body and mind).

Peak Pose: Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Girl in Warrior I on yoga mat

Whenever I take class with my teacher, Julie, at the Bhakti Center in NYC we chant the Maha Mantra when we get into Warrior I. We open our hearts towards the ceiling, reach the hands up like the hands are either an extension of or a conduit of the heart, and offer our chant up to the divine Krishna. The only way to adequately offer ourselves up to the higher entity is if we are offering from a full cup. A full cup comes from love, which I believe gratitude is the precursor for.

Supporting Pose 1: Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

Girl in crescent lunge

Don’t these poses look similar? Crescent lunge will teach the action of the front leg, the opening of the back frontal hip, and the actions of the torso.

How to:

  1. From low lunge, bring your back knee down to the floor and flatten the top of your foot to the mat.
  2. Press your sacrum forward as you reach your hands up to the sky to frame your head.
  3. Draw your shoulder blades towards one another to reach the center of the chest forward and up. Ensure the front of your rib basket is not excessively jutting forward by firming the front ribs in.

Supporting Pose 2: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior Two Pose on a yoga mat

If there were two poses that were siblings, I think it would be Warrior I and Warrior II. They are good teachers for one another as they have similar, yet slightly different characteristics. This is an open hip posture (hips open to side) while Warrior I is a closed hip posture (hips face forward). The good thing about Warrior II, is that because it is an open hip pose it is *generally* a bit more accessible compared to Warrior I and so can act as a great teacher.

How to:

  1. From downward facing dog, step the right foot between your hands.
  2. Spin the left heel down so it’s more or less parallel to the short side of your mat. Slightly turned in is okay too to encourage internal rotation of the back thigh.
  3. Keeping the front leg bent at an ideal* 90 degrees and your back leg straight, bring the torso upright and ensure the hips, belly button, and chest are facing the side wall. Sometimes the back hip will creep forward so press the left thigh and left side of the pelvis towards the opposite side wall that your back is to.
  4. Ensure all four corners of both feet are planted as you spread your arms into a T-shape at shoulder height and look over your right middle finger. Note: the left side is pictured.

Supporting Pose 3: Warrior III

Girl in warrior 3 pose

All the warriors are here today! Warrior III is a great prep pose for warrior I. It moves the body in the same place as warrior I, can teach the energy needed for the back leg to firm the thigh, and can teach proper actions for the hips and chest.

How to:

  1. From high lunge, hinge the torso forward at the hip.
  2. Take the weight onto the front leg as you lift the back leg off the floor.
  3. Flex and spread the back toes as you energize the back leg up and in line with the pelvis.
  4. Compact your hips in as your reach your chest and head forward. Ensure the front of the rib basket isn’t falling to the floor unconsciously. Pull the front ribs in to fill the lower back.
  5. Arms can be in any variation so long as there is consciousness to the integrity of the upper back. Arms reaching forward and framing the ears might better mirror warrior III or you might want arms by the side to give them a rest in preparation for warrior III.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

How to:

  1. From downward facing dog, step the right foot behind the right wrist.
  2. Spin the left heel down at  about 45 degrees.
  3. With the right leg bent at about 90 degrees* and the left leg straight, bring the torso upright. *Not everyone’s body will reach the full 90 degrees, and that’s okay!
  4. Ensure all four corners of both feet are planted as you reach your hands up to the sky. Bring your hands together or have them shoulder distance apart.
  5. Draw your shoulder blades towards one another and press your sacrum forward as you press your heart up towards the sky.
  6. Gaze to or between your hands and maybe chant the Maha Mantra.

The Maha Mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare!

9 Benefits of Restorative Yoga

By Yoga Asana

Do you ever eat something that you know is good for you, but research the benefits of it to feel even better about eating it? I do this almost every time I want to eat pizza, but prepare something that’s much more nourishing instead I research the benefits of the spices, the vegetables, and whatever additional ingredients are involved in the recipe so I don’t just grab the pizza I was craving. Pizza is easy and it’s also satisfying, but if I eat it every day, I know I won’t feel good. It’s also easy to skip my restorative yoga practice, but I never feel good about it when I do…

It’s a little too easy to lean into the things in life that don’t necessarily benefit you. It’s a little too easy to just order takeout or stay on the couch than to prepare something nurturing or to roll out your yoga mat and move. Whenever I’m lacking the motivation to do the things that are really good for me, I get motivated by reminding myself how and why they’re good for me.

There are so many amazing benefits of restorative yoga! I could go on and on about them, but some of the ones that get me excited to come onto my mat are:

1. Restorative yoga will slow things down

Most restorative poses are held for minutes at a time, so your mind and body will have a chance to slow down. If you’re coming home from work or if you just feel like your mind is moving in a million directions, the restorative yoga practice will help you create a little more space around everything that’s going on. The world we live in is naturally fast-paced — people want quick fixes and immediate answers, so it’s too easy to be tuned up or burnt out whenever you’re trying to slow down.

When you give your mind and body the space for quiet and slowness, which is what the restorative practice creates, you will begin to see what needs your attention and what isn’t really that important. You’ll be able to make decisions from a calmer place instead of giving into the immediacy life sometimes demands.

The most effective restorative yoga poses:

  • Legs up the wall
  • Supported fish
  • Childs pose
  • Supported savasana
  • Supported pigeon

2. Restorative yoga can help you sleep

Whether you’ve heard of it already or not, your body has something beautiful called the parasympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated through restorative yoga, your body enters a state of relaxation. If you choose to practice right before bedtime, you’ll bring these benefits right into bed with you.

You’ll be less tempted to scroll through your cell phone or reach for the television remote when you’re already relaxed and ready to unwind. You’ll actually be excited and motivated to get under the covers and get to sleep. Also, your sleep may be much more peaceful and uninterrupted because you’ve already unwinded from your day.

3. You might find yourself more energized

Since restorative yoga puts your nervous system at ease, you might find yourself less burnt out. When you’re able to take quality rest, you’re more likely to move through your day with a lot more energy and with much more focus. You may even notice that you don’t have any brain fog and that you’re much more attentive.

I often recommend replacing that afternoon coffee with one or two restorative poses. There are some poses that are actually quite energizing, but in a way that replenishes your energy instead of over stimulating you. These are perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up.

Restorative yoga poses that will energize you:

  • Supported, seated wide leg forward fold
  • Supported bridge pose
  • Restorative twist
  • Sage’s twist

4. You’ll be much more in-tune with what your body needs

One of the goals of restorative yoga is to find balance in your body. When you’re in balance, you’re much more aware of your needs and potential deficiencies. Your body is so intelligent that when it’s lacking something, you’ll get a craving or you’ll feel like you need to rest or simply spend some time alone.

This practice helps your body find the balance it needs to tap into its inner intelligence. You’ll find yourself responding to calls and messages from a much more sincere place and you’ll probably be much happier with the things you say yes to. When you’re balanced on the inside, you can make decisions that keep your environment balanced all around you.

The importance of props & why modifications help!

Restorative yoga is all about the usage of props in order to maximize stretches and get the best results. Bolsters, blocks and blankets are the most popular yoga props utilized in restorative yoga. In addition, you can often use eye masks or even the assistance of another person (usually the teacher) to press on your body, known as “hands on assists,” to get you deeper into the poses. It’s also important to modify the way you use the props so that the set up is specific to your body. An experienced restorative yoga teacher will be able to tell you how to properly place your props so that you reach maximum comfort in each pose.

5. You’ll make choices that make you happier

Since you’ll be coming back to balance and understanding what you need to do to stay balanced, you’ll probably find yourself in situations that bring you joy as opposed to the ones that deplete you. Sometimes, when you don’t know what you need or want, you might say yes to everything.

Saying yes to everything can be one of the causes of burnout, so knowing what you want and don’t want is so beneficial. Restorative yoga will help you make decisions from a sincere place It’ll help you choose what’s good for you and know when to say no to what’s not.

6. You’ll probably find yourself a bit more mindful

There’s a lot of talk of mindfulness these days. That’s because it’s one of the ways to live a much more healthy and fulfilling life. When you’re tuned into how certain food, people, music, movies, and situations make you feel, it can be much easier to cultivate what makes you feel good into your life. If you don’t really know what you want, you might find yourself in situations where you’re just unhappy and unfulfilled.

Over time, the restorative yoga practice can help you make better decisions. You’ll be able to pause and ask yourself if something is good for you or not so great for you. You’ll empower yourself with the knowledge of realizing what keeps you balanced. You’ll know why you’re saying no to certain things and yes to others.

7. It’s a way to recover

Restorative yoga will definitely help you recover from any physical activity you’ve gone though, but it’ll also help you recover from the mental and emotional things as well. Anything that makes you feel sad, angry, or even lonely can be something that you actually do need to recover from. Too often, there isn’t enough time to process situations that may have caused you to cry or scream — maybe you held it all in and thought you had to just get over it.

You need to recover from anything that brings you out of balance and taking the time on your yoga mat can help you move through anything emotional that’s been brought up. Restorative poses will help you process emotions instead of ignoring them.

8. You’ll actually understand savasana

I know I can’t be the only one who used to struggle with savasana — I actually still struggle with it to this day! It’s common for your mind to wander and to think about to-do lists or whether or not you fed your cat. The nature of the mind is to move towards distractions and everyone struggles with quieting their mind. There’s just too much going on in this life and there are too many things to remember or think about on a daily basis.

The good news is that in restorative yoga, you will get a much longer savasana. It’s not uncommon to practice savasana for 10-15 minutes or longer, as opposed to a vinyasa or hatha yoga class where you might be in savasana for about 5 minutes. A longer savasana means more time to understand the benefits of it by actually feeling them and experiencing them. When you’re in a pose like savasana for that long, your mind will naturally settle down and your body will begin to receive the benefits. It’s a true reset for your nervous system!

9. You’ll feel the benefits in your other yoga classes

Once you start adding restorative yoga to your routine, you’ll probably notice that your mind is a little more relaxed in some of your other yoga classes. You will be much more connected to your breath and your body as you move through your vinyasa or hatha classes. This is because you’ll have spent so much time in your restorative practice establishing homeostasis in your body, so you won’t be seeking ways to do that elsewhere.

If you’ve ever gone into your vinyasa practice during a time when you’ve been depleted and burnt out, you probably felt even more depleted and burnt out afterwards. Once you begin practicing restorative yoga, you’ll be able to move through these other classes feeling more balanced at the end.

Let’s practice!

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of restorative yoga or becoming certified to teach restorative yoga classes, please check out our restorative yoga teacher training. In this training, we go much deeper into some of the other benefits of the practice and also the benefits of each of the poses

Restorative yoga can be for everyone because there are endless ways to set up the poses and modify them for most people and body types. This is a practice that I believe almost everyone should be doing to establish balance and bliss in this life. I’d love to have you in this training!

Weekly Class Theme: Aparigraha

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Alas, we are at our last stop of our journey through the Yamas! Upon the completion of reading this article, you will [hopefully] have a grasp of each Yama and how incorporating them into your life can enhance your sense of self, your relationships with others, and your perception of the world around you. In addition, you’ll have some wonderful ideas of how to plan your asana classes in order to honor each of these jewels.

So let’s talk about Aparigraha…

Aparigraha is known as non-possessiveness or non-attachment. This is the yama which asks us to fully let go of our attachments to people, ideas, things, and expectations so that we can experience all that life really has to offer us.

I believe it is much easier said than done to just “let go,” as this requires us to release our ideas of what should be vs. what is, familiarity vs. unfamiliarity, known vs. unknown. As humans, we seek to cling onto the things which have brought us joy in the past and we attempt to plan our lives to make things as predictable as possible. But, as humans we also know that these efforts turn out to be futile no matter how hard we try. And yet we try and try again.

So here’s your call to action. Why not just let go? Whatever you might be dealing with right now, how about you release yourself from the overthinking and the expectations? Let yourself be suspended in mid-air and just see where that may take you. Yes, there might be discomfort but trust that your practice will support you and you may find yourself in a better place than you could have ever imagined.

Peak Pose: Handstand Against the Wall (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

I know, two upside down arm balances in a row?! Why not? I think handstand is such an amazing pose to highlight the principles of aparigraha. It requires us to trust our bodies, our practice, and in this case…the wall! I often find that some students have self-limiting beliefs about this pose. They think they are not strong enough, not “good” enough, or not brave enough. After preparation, those same students enter into the pose (with the use of the wall and sometimes a hands-on assist) and you can see in their faces how those thoughts are dashed. Physical and mental preparation help the practitioner with this posture, but it’s that moment where the student decides to let go and just “go for it” which ultimately gets one upside down.

Supporting Pose 1: Upward Hands (Urdhva Hastasana)

Upward hands pose is basically in EVERY VINYASA YOGA CLASS. So it would be wise to use the pose as preparation for handstand as it is essentially the same pose right side up. It’s generally accessible and familiar and you can teach the actions of handstand from head to toe all while standing on your feet.

How to:

  1. Stand with your feet either hips width distance apart or together. You might opt to have the feet together since that mimics the peak pose.
  2. Press the four corners of the feet down and lift the kneecaps up.
  3. Reach the arms to the sky and bring the biceps alongside the ears. Spread your fingers to the hands and arms are active and toned.
  4. Pull the front ribs and frontal hip points towards one another to avoid an excessive anterior tilt of the pelvis and a jutting forward of the rib basket.
  5. Keep the arms reaching up and relax the muscles around the neck. You don’t need to draw the shoulder blades down. The shoulder blades will naturally rotate up a bit so keep that but avoid tensing the muscles around the neck and upper traps.

Supporting Pose 2: Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Warrior One Pose

Warrior I is a great standing posture to incorporate into your class towards handstand. It teaches the actions of the legs, arms, and torso and moves the body in the sagittal plane which is the same plane where handstand takes place.

How to:

  1. From downward facing dog, step your right foot forward behind the right hand.
  2. Lower the back foot down at an angle (~45 degrees) and keeping that leg straight, bring your torso to an upright position.
  3. Press the four corners of each foot into the ground. Press your left thigh to the back of the room and lift the kneecap up as you press your right shin forward and bring the thigh to ~90 degrees.
  4. Reach your arms up to the sky and bring your palms together. Press the palms into one another as you energize the fingertips up.
  5. Pull the front ribs and frontal hip points together as you take your gaze towards your thumbs.

Supporting Pose 3: Extended Hand to Big Toe A (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A)

Like warrior I, this pose teaches the body how to straighten the arms and legs in the sagittal plane…very similar to handstand! This pose also gives the practitioner the ability to learn the action of pressing the foot forward into mid-air as if you were pressing the foot into stable ground.

How to:

  1. Start in mountain pose. Bring your right knee up towards your belly and bring your peace-sign fingers + thumb to wrap around your big toe. The elbow should thread along the inner knee as you make this connection.
  2. Press the left foot down and make the leg really clear and straight.
  3. Hug the right knee towards the right elbow while straightening the right leg (as much as you can manage) by pressing the sole of the foot forward and lifting the kneecap.
  4. Keep the heart above the pelvis, meaning don’t lean forwards or backwards in favor of straightening the leg. It’s important to keep the spine aligned even if there is a bend in the right leg.
  5. Reach the left arm up to the ceiling with the bicep alongside the ear. Energize your fingertips towards the ceiling and bring the left shoulder blade towards the spine to assist the upwards movement of the arm.

Handstand Against the Wall (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

How to:

  1. Come into downward facing dog with your head towards a sturdy wall and your hands about 6-8 inches away from the baseboard/edge of the wall.
  2. Lift the kneecaps to tone the thighs and take a straight leg march to bring your feet halfway up your mat while maintaining the height of your pelvis. If the legs remain straight, the pelvis should actually go even higher compared to downward facing dog.
  3. When you’ve walked your feet in as much as you can and when you feel your pelvis is almost over your shoulders (or as close as you can manage), take one leg off the floor. Keep the leg clear, straight, and active. The arms should remain clear, straight, and active as well.
  4. Look between your thumbs as you bend the bottom leg in order to give a small kick to bring the pelvis over the shoulders and the top heel to the wall.
  5. Slowly bring the bottom heel to meet the top heel on the wall. Bring the legs together and spread the toes.
  6. Press your fingertips down into the ground as you scrub your heels up the wall.
  7. Let your head relax between the arms.

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

What is Restorative Yoga?

By Yoga Asana

Restorative yoga is a style of yoga that involves holding the yoga poses for a longer period of time, the use of yoga props, and the goal to create an environment where you can replenish and recuperate.

So many of us need to allow our bodies to recover, but we don’t always give ourselves the space and time to do so. Restorative yoga provides the tools to slow down and create the space where rest can happen. When your body is at rest, it can heal.

This style of yoga is fairly new and modern compared to other styles. It originated from the yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, who was one of the yoga teachers who began using a lot of props to support the practice. It’s a style of yoga that can also be practiced by almost everyone.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga:

  • Lowers anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Increases energy
  • Releases tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Boosts your body’s recovery process
  • Helps overcome depression
  • Calms your nervous system
  • Eases muscle tension
  • Improves digestion

How restorative yoga works:

The restorative yoga practice activates something called the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that helps your body relax. Once this system is activated, your body can enter a state of rest. This is the state that allows your body to hit the brakes and begin its recovery.

In a restorative yoga class, you can expect to use some yoga props to help support you in each pose and you will also hold the poses much longer than you do in other styles of yoga. This helps bring your body into relaxation. When your body is in a relaxed state, your heart rate and breathing may slow down, your mind can become more calm, and your muscles will have a chance to recover.

Restorative Yoga and Anatomy

Almost everyone can practice restorative yoga because of its focus on prop use and modifications. This practice can be modified for almost every body and every need. It supports the individual’s anatomy and focuses on bringing each person to their specific place of comfort.

The anatomy of restorative yoga is really the honoring of your own anatomy and your own body’s requirements. It honors the concept that what may work for one person may not work for someone else. One of the goals of this practice is to help each person understand what they need to help their body heal.

How it Differs from Yin Yoga

Restorative yoga originates from B.K.S. Iyengar and was created to help people recover from injuries and other health issues. Props are used to help your body feel fully supported and there may be some passive stretching. One goal is to help your muscles release.

Yin yoga originates from Paul Greeley and incorporates some Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. There aren’t as many props used in yin and the poses will bring you into more of an active stretch to reach the deeper tissues. This practice focuses more on releasing the connective tissue as opposed to the muscles.

Read this article for more information:

The difference between yin yoga + restorative yoga

Who can practice and what to expect in a restorative yoga class:

As mentioned earlier, almost anyone can practice restorative yoga. This is because it caters to finding the most comfortable setup for each individual person. It’s meant to be slow and relaxing, so don’t feel awkward or shy asking your teacher to help you adjust the poses. Whether you’re injured, working with an illness, or brand new to yoga in general, you can practice this style of yoga.

In a restorative class, expect to hold poses for a while and to also move gently in all directions. This means that almost your whole body will benefit from the practice. You’ll experience a deeper rest than you normally experience in other classes and your body will release tension.

Some Restorative Yoga Poses We Love!

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

Supported Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having two blankets, one bolster, and one eye pillow ready.
  2. Place one blanket where your head will go.
  3. Place one bolster with one blanket on top of it where your feet will go.
  4. Have your eye pillow close to your mat so you can reach for it when you need it.
  5. Lie down on your back and bring the blanket down to the lower part of your head, right above your neck. This should support your chin lining up with your chest. If your chin is sticking up towards the ceiling too much, simply make your blanket thicker by folding it again.
  6. Bring the soles of your feet together and place them on top of the stacked blanket and bolster.
  7. As you close your eyes, bring your eye pillow over them and extend your arms with your palms flipped up.
  8. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

Supported Wide Legged Forward Fold

Supported Wide Legged Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having four blankets and one bolster ready.
  2. Roll two of the blankets up along their long edges and place them off to the side.
  3. Fold another blanket up on its longer edge and sit at the edge of it.
  4. Widen your legs and place your bolster in front of you.
  5. Fold up a blanket and place it on top of the bolster.
  6. Slip the rolled blankets that you’ve set aside beneath your knees and release your head onto the bolster and blanket stack.
  7. Hold for 5-10 minutes.

Supported Child’s Pose (Bālāsana)

How to:

  1. Begin by having one bolster and one block near.
  2. Set the block on its middle height.
  3. Place the tip of the bolster on top of the block.
  4. Come to your hands and knees facing the bolster and release your seat towards your feet and your cheek to one side on the bolster.
  5. Bring your hands forward and around the block.
  6. Hold for 5-10 minutes and then switch whichever cheek is on the bolster and hold again for another 5-10 minutes.

Restorative YTT & More!

Practice with our Restorative YTT instructor, Joanne Silver in the Energy Restoring Practice above. To enroll in a Restorative Online Yoga Teacher Training, click here: Restorative Yoga YTT

Weekly Class Theme: Brahmacharya

By Yoga Classes, Yoga Teachers

Our next stop through the Yamas is Brahmacharya. Remember, the Yamas are considered jewels by which to live in order to experience life through a yogic lens (because what better way)! Brahmacharya is literally translated to “walking with God,” and is more commonly known as living with non-greed or non-excess. This Yama asks us to consider in every moment the sacredness of life and to be aware of when we are going from “enough to excess.”

Most of us may be able to relate to the feeling of eating too much, drinking too much, or sleeping too much to the point that it takes away from our ability to be fully present or content. It’s not that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves…that’s quite the contrary! But it’s the overindulgence that has us overlooking and taking for granted the pleasures of life and life itself.

Brahmacharya asks us to examine our lives in all aspects – work, play, material possessions, relationships, even our spiritual practices – and to notice when we are overdoing it. Subsequently, we are invited to create balance and rhythm in our lives between the doing and non-doing to experience a productive, yet utterly fulfilling life.

Peak Pose: Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

If you ask me, all arm balances should have the teachings of Brahmacharya highlighted. Forearm stand (same with handstand), while we are upside down is an arm balance as opposed to being in the inversion family. It’s easy to get swept up in the “doing” of this pose…trying and trying followed by failing and frustration. I am picturing some of my students trying to get into the pose and eventually when they do muscle their way into it, the look on their face is of pure stress and strain. My personal journey to forearm stand has taken years and I’ve realized it doesn’t end when you are able to “get into the pose.” It requires us to check our ego at the door and approach it with patience, compassion, and non-excess…for overdoing it can surely put us in harm’s way physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Supporting Pose 1: Sphinx (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Sphinx pose seems like an obvious choice to get the forearms on the ground to receive feedback from the surface below. It is fairly accessible and can teach the positions and actions of the hands and forearms before balancing the entire body on them.

How to:

  1. Lie on your belly with your legs fully extended and the front of the pelvis and tops of your feet pressing down into the ground.
  2. Bring your forearms to the floor parallel with one another (and the edges of your mat) and your elbows beneath your shoulders.
  3. Press your palms and forearms firmly into the ground as you energetically drag your arms back. The arms should not actually move, but the result should be the shoulder blades drawing back and down and it should feel like the collarbones are spreading.
  4. Keep the back of the neck lengthened.
  5. To incorporate this in a seamless way, you can replace cobra with sphinx pose during your warm up portion of class.

Supporting Pose 2: Triangle with Arm Overhead (Utthita Trikonasana)

Triangle helps to teach the practitioner about strong, clear and straight legs which is necessary for forearm stand. Taking the arm over the ear resembles the arm and upper back position for the peak pose.

How to:

  1. From Warrior II, straighten your legs and lift your kneecaps.
  2. Bend at your right hip and bring your right hand down to a block (or shin or ground) on the outside of your leg. Keep the arm straight.
  3. Take your left arm up to the ceiling and then over your head so the upper arm is alongside your ear.
  4. Ensure the front of your rib cage is in check by pulling the front ribs in and filling out the lower back.
  5. Press the crown of the head towards the front of the room to lengthen the neck and then either keep the gaze towards the side wall or turn the gaze to the sky.

Supporting Pose 3: Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)

Full wheel has multiple components which contribute wonderfully to the learning of forearm stand. Arm position, upper back action, pelvis and leg action are all ways in which full wheel helps the practitioner to prepare the body for pincha mayurasana. Depending on the level of students, you might consider doing a double peak class or doing this only if you have ample time to adequately teach/practice both.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of the feet planted on the floor with the heels under your knees.
  2. Reach your arms straight up to the sky and then bend your arms to bring the palms to the floor beneath your shoulders with the fingers facing the heels of your feet.
  3. Press your hands and feet into the ground as you lift the rest of your body away from the floor. You can either come to half-wheel (crown of the head planted to the ground) or right into full wheel as pictured.
  4. Firm the back of your pelvis towards the sky and firm the upper back in to move your chest towards the back of the room and the head between your arms.
  5. To exit, bend your elbows and slowly tuck your chin to lay down the back of your head, the upper back, middle back, and lower back.

And finally… Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)

How to:

  1. Come to sphinx pose as described in supporting pose #1.
  2. Then, enter into a forearm plank by tucking the toes, lifting the legs, pelvis, and belly off the floor.
  3. Walk the toes in towards the elbows while simultaneously piking the hips towards the sky (like in downward facing dog). Keep the legs sharp and straight while you do this.
  4. Once you feel like the hips are at the highest point that is within your capacity, lift one leg off the floor. You can consider starting by lifting your non-dominant leg as you’ll be kicking off the floor with the dominant leg.
  5. Gaze between your thumbs as you bend the bottom leg just enough to push your lower body off the floor and towards the sky. If you are against a wall, bring your top heel to the wall and then bring your bottom heel to meet it. If you are in the middle of the room, you can use the split leg position to find a pelvic position that allows you to balance upside down.
  6. Eventually, bring the legs together, flex and spread the toes, tone the thighs as you reach the balls of the feet up towards the ceiling.
  7. Pull the front ribs in and firm the sacrum in (probably could have done this a little better for the picture!), and allow the head to drop between the arms.
  8. To exit, start by lowering one leg to the floor followed by the other and land as quietly as you can manage.

Interested in learning more about forearm stand? We have a course for that. 🙂

Sources: The Yamas + Niyamas by Deborah Adele

Supported Supta Baddha Konasana

How Restorative Yoga Can Help You During The Holiday Season

By Yoga Asana

For some people, the holiday season brings a ton of excitement, anticipation, and overall joy for the upcoming gatherings, celebrations, and visits with friends and family. For others, it’s definitely a time that can bring up anxiety, overwhelm, and sometimes even a little sadness. I tend to move between both of these extremes because I love the holidays, but I also find myself saying yes to too many obligations, worrying about making everyone happy, and sometimes missing the people I can’t be with.

My yoga practice has helped me navigate extreme emotions in my life and it’s also been what’s stopped me from having a meltdown at work or snapping at the people I love. Through yoga and meditation, I’ve been able to really find that place between action and reaction, so I can take a breath and respond in a much calmer way. Restorative yoga, on the other hand, has been what’s totally saved me during the holidays.

Restorative yoga has a ton of benefits when practiced on a regular basis, but I really need it when life gets a little more hectic, when emotions are high, and when I’m just generally spread out way too thin. This holiday season, I’m relying on restorative yoga to get me through the situations I can’t avoid and the extreme feelings that I tend to feel. It’s my number one helper for the holidays and I’m so excited to share how it can help you out too!

Restorative yoga is like a big hug for your nervous system

It calms your mind and gives your body a chance to release certain anxieties, so it’s incredibly soothing for your mind and body. The soothing effect that it has on your nervous system is something that’s needed anytime tension gets a little high or stress sneaks its way into your life. During the holidays, you may be dealing with tons of phone calls from family members or added stress at work. This is the perfect time to find your yoga mat and unwind.

When your nervous system is regulated and working the way it should, your body creates the space that can facilitate energy conservation. This means that you will naturally know what deserves your attention and what doesn’t. Your ability to make decisions from a calm place is elevated and you won’t feel like you’re doing a million things at once. You’ll be way more rested and feel more refreshed as you navigate important decisions and make holiday plans.

Speaking of rest, restorative yoga helps you sleep

Your body has something really intricate called the parasympathetic nervous system. When this network of nerves is activated, your heart rate and breathing will slow down and your body will enter a state of total relaxation. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so if you’ve had a long, stressful day, rolling out your yoga mat before bed can be a great way to unwind from any stressors you’ve experienced.

The holidays tend to bring up a lot of extra attention to detail, deep talks, memories that are either really sad or incredibly happy, and a ton of other things that can keep you staring at your bedroom walls all night. By incorporating this practice into your routine a few nights a week, you’ll digest the events of your day better and you’ll bring your mind to a place of ease. This will increase the quality of your sleep and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face a new day.

Since you’ll be sleeping better, you’ll have more energy.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re experiencing high quality sleep, you’ll wake up with a lot more energy. You can’t replace hours of sleep with cups of coffee, so when you bring your body to a place of ease and relaxation, it will reset and recharge the way it’s meant to. In fact, even if you have a few restless nights, you can replace your afternoon coffee with five minutes in a restorative pose.

A few minutes in your restorative practice will tell your body that it’s time to chill out and rest. Once your body experiences this state of rest, you’ll feel much more energized and your mind will be a lot more clear. Remember, you can’t replace a good night’s sleep with restorative yoga, but you can use it as a helper for those days when you need that little pick me up.

Your digestion will improve

If you’ve been going to one too many holiday parties or gatherings, you might be indulging in some things that aren’t part of your daily routine. Maybe you’re eating later or eating a little more. Maybe you’re eating foods that you normally don’t eat. Whatever it is, your body will thank you if you stick with your restorative yoga practice.

Restorative yoga aids in digestion, so the more consistent you are with coming to your mat, the better you’ll digest the things that probably need a little more assistance. The holidays are a great time to try new things and indulge a little bit, but you want to make sure you take care of yourself afterwards!

Restorative yoga may help you handle stress, anxiety, and holiday sadness

As exciting as the holidays may be for some people, they can also be a frantic and sad time for others. Practicing restorative yoga is a powerful form of self care because it brings your body to a place that can facilitate healing. Think about how you feel when you come home from somewhere and you’re tired or stressed or sad. You might go right to your freezer and grab some ice cream to self-soothe, sit on your couch, and watch mindless tv or scroll through your phone.

What if you got on your yoga may and gave yourself a little time in some restorative yoga poses instead? This will give you the time to actually rest and reset from whatever you came home from. You’ll give yourself some time to digest what happened during the day and figure out what healthy and fulfilling choices you need to feel better. When you take care of your beautiful body and mind, you will be more in tune with what it needs to find balance and feel well. This is such an empowering tool to have with you as you navigate the holidays.

You’ll be more kind to yourself

Have you ever been upset with yourself because you wanted to accomplish so much but didn’t get through half of your to-do list? This can happen when events and responsibilities pile on and you want to be everywhere at once. Practicing some restorative yoga poses will help you cultivate gratitude for your work, love for your body, and patience with yourself. Once you slow things down, you’ll be more open to kindness and more receptive to self love.

Once you’re more kind and loving towards yourself, you’ll also find yourself being more compassionate and caring to the people in your life. This is so important as the stress of the holidays begins to creep up and responsibilities pile on. Almost everyone is experiencing these elevated emotions, so being kind is key.

You’ll cultivate a practice that will help you start the new year right

If you start and stick with your restorative yoga practice throughout the holidays, you’ll automatically have a healthy habit under your belt to take into the new year. Sometimes new year’s resolutions don’t always work out, so why not begin healthy habits early? Restorative yoga is a self care practice that can set the foundation for other positive habits to manifest.

If you’re interested in learning more about restorative yoga or becoming certified to teach so you can share these practices with others, be sure to check out our restorative yoga teacher training. It will provide you with the tools you need to kickstart your own practice and also safely teach others. You’ll learn about how the poses are beneficial to your body and mind and also how to sequence them together to create a full length class.

Restorative yoga is for everyone and it’s designed to meet you where you’re at and support you wherever you’re seeking support. It’s my favorite way to take care of myself during the holidays and also throughout the year. It’s what keeps me on track whenever I feel like I’m lacking self care or whenever I need a little reset. The practice is so transformational and I know that you’ll fall in love with it right away!

I hope you have a healthy, balanced, and loving holiday season and I hope that you and yours are well. I hope that these tools support you as you make your way into a new year and I hope they help you find new ways to take care of yourself and to get excited for self care, self love, and continuous kindness.