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Restorative Yoga IS Yoga

My Thursday night restorative class typically has half of the yogis of my more active yoga classes. New students come in to class and are confused by the lack of movement and length of quiet; they fidget more and look around the room often. They're uncomfortable laying for a long period of time. They're uncomfortable being alone with their thoughts. They're just not used to allowing their bodies and minds to be still.

And to be honest, I skipped this type of practice in the past as well. I wanted hyper-mobility and arm balances, inversions and hand-stands.....laying on my mat seemed boring and pointless comparatively.

But restorative yoga IS yoga!

And it is a beautiful practice to cultivate, and sometimes it's much harder to surrender than to flow through the asanas in a hatha or vinyasa practice.

We are a society that gauges our success on results. We work hard and play harder. We over schedule our lives, and we try to keep up with everyone else in neighborhood. And sadly, we rarely slow down enough to truly take care of ourselves the proper way.

In restorative yoga, poses are held for longer periods of time and the body is fully supported with various props. This allows the yogi to go deeper into relaxation and surrender the body and mind more fully. This is a more meditative yoga practice that allows the body, mind and spirit to unite - the actual definition of the word "yoga"! Breath and meditation are a focal point as the body is effortlessly held still for several minutes in each pose. This allows the body to lower stress, engage the parasympathetic nervous system (where the body is placed in a "rest and digest" mode), improve sleep, boost the immune system and find ease into meditation.

When we add more stress to our lives, we need to counter-balance it with more self-care. The four areas of self-care include emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual. Through a restorative yoga practice you can actually tap into each of these areas during your time on the mat. You can create space for yourself, slow down your entire being, draw into personal reflection, observe your inner feelings and find a deeper connection to God.

I find my time on the mat in a restorative practice actually helps me untangle my thoughts, and find more clarity. I breathe more deeply, think more positively and take time for prayer (talking to God) and meditation (listening to God).

I wholly encourage you to try a restorative practice, preferably in a studio with all of the yoga props and dim lighting to fully engage in your time on the mat. It can be such a amazing time to replenish the body and soul.

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