Restorative Yoga for Mental Health & Immunity
Restorative Yoga is my favourite type of Yoga…When practiced it feels wonderful, like you are giving yourself a special gift, a box fill of kindness and compassion. From a physiological perspective, it’s the antidote to stress. It’s the Yogic pill to relieve stress and anxiety, and supports your immune system and all others e.g. digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproduction, hormones etc. Its restorative approach means that it switches off the stress response (sympathetic nervous system), activating our rest and digest (parasympathetic NS). Although the stress response plays a really valuable role in our survival, if constantly switched on, this can damage our health in the long run.
It seems quite a challenge these days to be relaxed rather than stressed. Our busy, frantic lifestyles don’t support health and wellbeing. Coupled with the COVID pandemic many people are finding themselves, constantly on alert for a threat, struggling to cope with the demands of life. Consequently our fight/flight (stress response) is constantly on in the background. Often this state can become a habitual pattern of being, preventing us from noticing how we feel and recognising the physical and mental symptoms of stress (refer to my stress journal). So we continue on autopilot, regularly fire fighting the challenges that life throws at us!
We can be more proactive, and put in place preventative measures to help us ride the waves of uncertainty and suffering that are an inevitable part of being human. Many Yoga techniques can be practiced off the mat, in everyday life to help us live a more relaxed and happy life.
Restorative Yoga, what is it and how does it work?
A restorative Yoga class will include some gentle asana poses to reconnect body and mind. Improving awareness of physical sensations can be really helpful to identify tension in the body and release it. Breathing practices and Pranayama are also included to calm the Nervous System, our stress response, and restore natural breathing rhythm to fully oxygenate the body. Relaxation, mindfulness and meditation can also be included to bring balance to body, mind and spirit. To bring new perspectives, a feeling of positivity and hope. Yoga’s holistic approach means that it works on the “whole” being, rather than separate parts, thus mirroring how the human body, mind and spirit functions as a complete organism.
Since many chronic health conditions evolve from states of continuous stress (dominance of Sympathetic NS), Yoga empowers individuals to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing, consciously making a positive difference to their health in the short and long term. It can be used for chronic health conditions to improve overall functioning, plus can be considered as a preventative measure for occasions of acute stress and anxiety.
Restorative Yoga can help many health conditions: Nervous system e.g. Fibromyalgia, Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Autoimmune e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis, Polymyalgia, Asthma, Allergies, COVID, Menopause & Reproduction issues, High Blood Pressure, Digestion e.g. IBS, and many more.