Ready for rest....
As Autumn fades and Winter settles in, it’s quite common for our immunity and energy levels to take a beating as our bodies adapt to the dip in temperature and reduced sunlight.
Whilst we all know the benefits and importance of staying active, resting remains an alien concept to many. We are often drawn to practices that reflect our dynamically paced lifestlyes, espcially us city folk, but this can often be the opposite of what we need.
While the challenges of an active practice can build strength, resilience, and confidence, a critical ingredient to our growth is rest and recovery time. How else do we recover fully from all the stresses and strains of our hyper productive life and culture?
One of our favoured and most efficient ways to relax and restore is restorative yoga, a deeply nourishing practice that works directly with the nervous system to shift the body from the fight or flight response of sympathetic nervous system to the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Restorative yoga postures are supported by bolsters (our favourite are Shanti Sundays, pictured above) blocks, bricks and blankets and are designed to make us feel as comfortable as possible. This means the postures can be held for longer periods (5-20 minutes), allowing you to really let go into the support of the props. This helps with symptoms of stress by bringing a sense of calm to the entire being and improving the quality of sleep which is essential for the nervous system to fully recover from day to day stresses and life events.
Aside from improved sleep and an overall feeling of stillness in the body, a restorative practice helps the body return to a state of balance and optimum function. When we are rested, the mind is more alert and we are able to make decisions intuitively as opposed to reactively.
My Method yoga teacher Tracey says “I have a super active lifestyle.. I teach 5 days a week, I go to the gym, I practice with my teachers, all of which I love. However restorative yoga is my go to, especially in Winter months. I practice for at least twenty minutes every day. The only way I can keep up with the pace of life in the city is to slow right down, drop into myself and rebalance my nervous system.”
Life can be really overwhelming sometimes and restorative yoga offers the opportunity to anchor back in to yourself, despite what is going on externally.
Tracey says “I encourage all of my clients to try a restorative pose as part of their practice and they can’t believe the effect it has on their sleep and overall wellbeing. Even the most goal oriented clients, fall for the benefits of this quiet practice, I think they secretly feel relieved at being made to rest, knowing that ultimately they will experience the benefits long term.”
The next time you practice, why not try taking a longer relaxation with the support of one or two bolsters under the thighs and knees, or ask your teacher for a restorative alternative if you are feeling tired, run down or having trouble sleeping. Your body will thank you for it.