Tag Archives: relax

Restorative Yoga 101: Relax & Renew


Restorative Yoga is focused around the “ahhh” experience in yoga; the space found by breathing, relaxing and letting go of the mind’s internal dialogue. This gentle approach to practice allows participants to experience the same benefits of traditional practice while exerting little or no effort at all and leaves students feeling nourished, refreshed and well rested.

Prolonged stress, internal conflict, demanding situations, anxiety and anger engage the body’s natural “fight or flight” response which triggers the hypothalamus and initiates a sequence of nerve cell firing that prepares our bodies to react to perceived danger. Restorative Yoga engages our bodies’ innate ability to renew and restore, balancing and counteracting the effects of prolonged stress.

Restorative Yoga facilitates the four conditions for relaxation: relaxing the muscles with support, quieting the responses caused by stress, quieting the mind and finding a relaxed smooth breath.  Unlike sleep where your mind and body are preoccupied with dreaming and tensing muscles, Restorative Yoga provides an opportunity to achieve all four of these conditions.

The purpose of Restorative Yoga is two-fold. Restorative Active Poses awaken dull areas in the body to improve circulation and promote healing while Restorative Passive Poses induce deep relaxation and recuperation.

Some of the key adjustments to look for include maintaining round and soft lines in the body and avoiding sharp angles, readjusting props strategically to support the body, filling the space between the body and the earth and using enough props to create an even path for energy.  Most of the adjustments in Restorative Yoga involve accommodating and giving support to the body with props.  The basic props for Restorative Yoga are blocks, chairs, straps, bolsters and eye wraps.

Breathing during Restorative Yoga should always be easy and gentle, never forced or strained.  Restorative Yoga encourages students to become aware of the sensations and feelings of breathing and provides a chance to experience breath without muscular effort that brings about opening, healing and a calm state of mind. Sometimes students will access deep feelings locked in the mind/body and may experience catharsis.

Experience Restorative Yoga’s benefits to the mind and body with this balancing and rejuvenating routine.

Begin on your back with knees bent and the hands on the midsection.

Centering Breath, which consists of two gentle breaths, followed by one deliberately slow and thin inhalation and one deliberately long and full exhalation.

Bridge Flow with Block: Come to bridge pose, with the support of a block underneath the tailbone/lower lumbar spine.  Lift and lower hips, elevating when the lower hips are supported.

Abs with Block or Ball: Placing the block or ball between the thighs, 2-3 inches above the knees, engaging in abdominal work of you choice, which can include crunches or leg lifts, gently applying pressure to the block or ball.

Supported Bridge with Block: Placing a block or bolster beneath the feet and lowering back, relaxing the head down onto a blanket, opening the arms to either side.

Knees to Chest:  Lying down on the back, bringing the knees to the chest and holding on to the back of the thighs.

Childs Pose Restorative with Bolster: Beginning on all fours, pushing the buttocks back on to the knees and lowering the upper body down.  Chest rests on a bolster, completely relaxing, resting and breathing.

Cat/Cow with Block or Ball: Beginning on all fours, holding a block or ball between the thighs, 2-3 inches above the knees, for Cat Pose, rounding the back to the sky as the head lowers, and for Cow Pose, arching the back and lifting the chin.

Down Dog with Block: Coming to Down Dog, resting the forehead on a block or holding a block or ball between the thighs.

Crocodile / Plank Pose- Upper Body Warm Ups: For Plank, beginning in Downward Facing Dog and shifting forward until the shoulder are directly above the wrists.  Pressing the heels back and reaching through the crown of the head with the back straight and abdominals firm, moving to Crocodile Pose, pushing forward with your toes and hugging your ribcage below the elbows.  Lowering your chest, keeping your abdominals strong and hips stationary. Transitioning from Plank to Crocodile with Child’s Pose in-between.

Side Angle with Block: From a Warrior stance, bending your front knee and placing your forearm on a block on your thigh, reaching the top arm to the sky and alternating sides.

Sunflowers:  Stepping back to face the long edge of your mat, feet spread, turning the heals in and toes out, coming down to a squat while bending the elbows and placing them next to the waist, knees straight out over the toes.  On an inhale, moving the arms overhead and on an exhale hinging forward from the hips, reaching the tailbone back while maintaining a neutral spine as you sweep the arms to the floor.  Flowing with the breath through repetitions.

For more information about Restorative Yoga, register for YogaFit’s Restorative Yoga training at yogafit.com.

Successful Stress Management Techniques

Beth J Shaw author of YOGAFIT

Stress Management means basically, learning how to manage stress, by witnessing it, and releasing it.

Stress management, is simply, a daily process to let go of tension stored in the body and mind. Without this letting go process, we become candidates for ulcers, heart attacks, migraines and premature aging. All known to be caused by stress. Stress Management techniques, allow us to discover and experience, how, we hold emotions, thoughts and experiences in out bodies. Exercises will offer us the opportunity, to tune into different moods, feelings, attitudes, and states of consciousness beside the low-grade stress levels, most people in our society, operate under. In our busy information society, we are constantly bombarded by external stimuli. A good stress management program, can help tune out the exterior world, and allow the participant to drop inside their bodies, and find a place of stillness. Some techniques that aid in this process, are deep breathing, extended stretching, and body scanning – all done in a quiet, warm room, with soft music playing, or simply, the relaxing sound of one’s own, deep breathing.

We learn to increase the probability of desired moods, and feelings through our heightened self–awareness, while simultaneously decreasing negative states of anxiety. Excess of stress can also shutterstock_224788153result in an extended period “flight or fight syndrome” which over time can drain the adrenal glands. Participants in a stress management program gain a powerful awareness of how to positively influence health, reactions, feelings and response. A good mind/body class can give clients the tools they can use for the rest of their lives.

Yoga is the 6,000 year old secret to health and vitality. Yoga can be considered technology for getting back in touch with our true essence and ourselves. It is a way of remembering the health and wholeness that is our natural state of being. Yoga, when broken down to its most simple form is breathing and feeling.

Through this breathing and feeling we learn to control our reactions to events and people. It is not the events and people in our lives that give us stress but the way we react to them. What makes yoga unique in terms of stress reduction is in its multifaceted approach. By working at the physical and psychological levels concurrently, yoga reduces stress at each level and this reduction in stress is supported by the work done at other levels. Yoga postures combined with deep breathing facilitate deep relaxation that combats stress.

Physically, yoga massages the skeletal system which supports bone mass and growth while taking the stress away from the supporting muscles and tendons. Yoga mechanically removes tension from the muscles through stretching. The steady even yoga breathing reduces stress levels in the body. Stress response, is accompanied by rapid, shallow breathing., Yoga encouraged deep diaphragmatic breathing activating a relaxation response. Yoga also massages the internal organs reducing high blood pressure, stress in the cardiovascular system at the level of the heart, arteries and blood. The nerves are massaged and stretched through yoga, conducting messages; throughout the body.

Emotionally the body believes what the mind believes. Affirmations about peace, calm, and tranquility, along with positive imagery are conveyed to the nervous system. Yoga brings greater relationship with others, life, and us. As we begin to explore these relationships more, we see which interactions genuinely support us in moving towards calmness. As we become more relaxed through yoga and stress management classes, we release addictive behaviors, which are often used to relieve stress. Yoga brings awareness to the emotional blocks that limit our experience of life. Our perception of life has been conditioned by our experiences and sometimes we close ourselves off from feelings and emotions. Through yoga we learn to bring awareness to all parts of ourselves with the understanding that through integration, we come to a natural place of balance. Many of our stressful habit patterns are conditioned. Yoga teaches a whole set of patterns which are helpful in reducing stress.