Restore Your Body and Find Balance
Exploring new ways to restore your body can help you to embrace life with a clear mind and strong body. In addition to massage therapy, restorative yoga can help balance the physiological and mental stresses you face.
“The goal is to promote deep physiological relaxation, a state where the body is at ease physically and the mind is not stimulated,” says Lisa Sandquist, a restorative yoga instructor in Chicago.
Restorative yoga incorporates forward bends, back bends, twists and inversions to move the spin in all directions.
“What differs from a traditional yoga class is the use of props: bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps as well as emphasized quiet, comfort, stillness, stretching and movement as each movement is held anywhere from three to 30 minutes,” explains Sandquist. Staying still for that long may sound intimidating, but if you have ever participated in a yoga class, you might agree that savasana (corpse pose) is your favorite .
How It Works
Restorative yoga poses manipulate the body so its “rest and digest” mode dominates.
“In this mode, our bodies are able to absorb nutrients and digest food, repair injured muscles and tissue as well as ease fatigue, relieve stress, recover from illness, build energy, and allow for reproduction,” explains Sandquist.
She says all restorative poses are beneficial to health and can reduce the effects of stress-related disease. Studies have found restorative yoga poses trigger the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) unlike active forms of yoga. The PNS is the part of the nervous system that functions to slow the heart rate and increase intestinal and gland activity (digest mode).
“I would describe yoga as ‘conscious relaxation’ because the body is positioned so the muscles relax and the mind quiets,” says Sandquist.
Check out this global database of trained and certified restorative teachers.
Try It: Restorative Yoga Poses
Elevated Legs Up the Wall
Calves on a Chair
Helps to relieve sore legs, feet and arms, reduces fatigue and lowers blood pressure.
Lie on the floor with your back with your pelvis elevated on a blanket and legs up against the wall. Set the arms out the side away from the body and elevate the hands to soothe tension in the forearms and hands. Place an eye pillow over the eyes and cover with a blanket. If you feel a stretch on the back of the legs, move away from the wall. Stay in pose for 15 minutes.
Relieve lower back pain and legs are refreshed.
Lie supine on the ground with your calves resting horizontally on the seat of a chair or sofa. The back of the knees should be supported by the seat and the angle between the feet, knees, and hips should be roughly 120 degrees. If this angle does not relieve backache, reduce the angle 90 degrees. Set the arms out to the side away from the body and elevate the hands to sooth tension in the forearms and hands. Place an eye pillow over the eyes and cover with a blanket. Stay in this pose for 20 minutes.
Source: This article was excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Spring 2012. Subscribe to read the entire article