Yoga has become a very broad practice, and more accessible to people over the years. When someone says they practice yoga, what does that really mean? The current yoga scene offers a lot of high intensity yoga, designed to make the body sweat and get toned. Many ancient yogis only practiced meditation or breathwork (pranayama). The asana, or yoga postures, only recently became the definition of most westernized yoga.
Do we practice yoga just to work out, and are we still getting the additional benefits yoga has to offer? If you have an intense schedule and do high intensity workouts, usually two yangs cancel each other out. This eventually causes individual burnout, exhaustion, and might even lead to health problems.
Where can individuals find more balance, or embrace their yin and yang? Restorative yoga is a gentle yoga practice designed to calm the nervous system and bring the body back to its parasympathetic state. The Restorative yoga postures are practiced on the floor using blocks, bolsters, straps, and blankets. Most of the postures are practiced on the floor for five to ten minutes. Depending on the instructor, a variety of breath practices, meditations, and gentle movements are offered. Practicing the breath inhaling for 2,4, or 6 counts, and exhaling for 2, 4, or 6 counts is encouraged to bring the body into an parasympathetic state.
Give yourself permission to practice yoga for ten minutes to two hours, depending on the day. Accepting constant change and surrendering to flow can help us remember that every day is different, and to listen to the body. Find the practice that feels best to you that day and follow your breath. What is your favorite Restorative Yoga pose? Viparita karani is a popular one.
- Find a wall space or a chair.
- Lay on one side, and slide your seat or sit bones up to the wall or to the edge of the chair.
- Then swing your legs up the wall or on the seat of the chair.
- Stay in this posture for ten minutes; breath inhale six counts, and exhale six counts.
- When you feel complete, bend your knees and gently role to one side. Then slowly find your way up to seated.
How do you feel?