With our "Restorative Workshop" at AWE approaching, I wanted to share a little about the practice of restorative yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar initially founded this style of yoga, to address the injuries suffered from holding traditional yoga poses too long or placing an overload of stress on the major joints of the body. This healing method of placing the body in gentle and supported postures was brought to the US and grew in popularity, under the teaching of his student, Judith Lasater. Through further study, use and expansion of the style, a wider set of benefits to the body as a whole have been discovered. In addition to an appropriate practice for healing weakened or injured joints, restorative yoga has been found to enhance flexibility, deeply relax the body, still the mind, balance the nervous and immune system, boost immunity, and enhances mood. The underlying physiological process by which these benefits are produced, is through the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system. In contrast to the "fight or flight" mode of the sympathetic side of our nervous system, the parasympathetic basically tells your whole body: "It's time to relax, restore, heal, and recover". The heart rate and blood pressure are lowered, there is an increase in blood supply to the vital organs, and symptoms of chronic stress are dealt with efficiently. Insomnia, pain, headaches, muscular tension, anxiety and countless other mental, emotional and physical reactions to ongoing stress are reduced. These proofs are all found as you explore the scientific literature on the practice of yoga, Pilates, relaxation techniques, meditation, and of particular effectiveness: restorative yoga.
In my personal experience, I have found an even greater benefit, not mentioned in research articles. In practicing this style of yoga, I have found that as my physical body and mind are given a full invitation to relax, my connection to my own heart: my deeper emotions, the inner dialogue with myself and the reality of my constant companion in God are made more clear. I have fresh ears and eyes and space to hear and enjoy this "wholeness of being", that my heart is always hungering for! This practice is simply a deepening of my truest self, a place where hiding and fears and doubt are chased away, by the experience of being held by God. Just as a newborn baby is swaddled and comforted into rest, so am I. And this rest becomes my center or homeplace that I am invited to live from, at every moment. Regardless of the stress, the circumstances, the trials, this grounding of growing trust and joy in knowing Him goes with me. So, this practice has become a part of all of me, and all of my life. I look forward to sharing more with you at AWE.