I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend. Today I’m going to talk about one of my absolute favourite yoga practices: Restorative Yin! Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s really nothing better than a sweaty, physically demanding vinyasa class, but for me the practice that has changed my life most dramatically is restorative. As a stress junkie by nature, the slow-paced, introspective nature of this class is a perfect counterpoint to my often-hectic schedule. Check out some of the sweet benefits below!
1. It’s taught me to be patient with my body and, by extension, to be more patient in my life.
Sometimes without even realizing it, when I’m doing a sweet flow class I can find myself pushing my body beyond what I’m physically capable of doing. Not in the “pushing my boundaries” kind of way, but in a way that may actually cause me harm if I go too far. The restorative class, or sloth yoga as one of my teachers affectionately calls it, has taught me to let my body flow into poses when I’m ready, not when my brain tells me I should be there.
This idea of being patient with my body and letting it show me what I’m capable of has followed me off the mat into my daily life. I’ve always been a rather impatient person, but the concept of accepting exactly where I am and what’s happening around me has helped keep me calm when things in life aren’t progressing exactly how my mind thinks they should.
2. It’s fostered kindness and gratitude for my body.
As an extension to the practice teaching me patience with my body and outside the studio, restorative yoga has also taught me how to be kind to my body, to let it guide the practice and to appreciate all the amazing things it’s capable of doing.
My teachers often say that your body knows what it needs to heal if you just take the time to listen, and practicing kindness and gratitude towards ourselves is a great way to help facilitate that healing. The peacefulness of this practice provides a chance for students to check in with our bodies and really listen to what’s going on inside so that we can see where we may need to focus on building strength or practicing kindness.
3. It’s an hour a week dedicated to diving inwards and focusing on the self.
A big part of this practice is getting really quiet with yourself, focusing on the breath, and staying present. It’s a great time to leave the lists behind, stop thinking about work, and just get down with what’s important: your physical, mental, and emotional health.
4. It provides the opportunity to slooooow dooooooown in a world obsessed with getting and doing things as quickly as possible.
The name sloth yoga says it all really. This practice is all about moving so slowly, with as much intention as possible behind every movement. We’re always rushing too and fro and that’s not good for our bodies, minds, or health! So take an hour and a half to slow down and get cozy.
5. It’s great for modulating stress levels in the body.
Many of us live in a constant state of movement, either by rushing about all day or by constantly thinking about our to do lists or ruminating on what if scenarios. When we are constantly under stress in this way our bodies are in something called fight or flight mode, which means our sympathetic nervous systems are up and running.
When our SNS is running the show we’re secreting hormones that prevent us from resting, digesting, and healing. In fact, if we stay in fight or flight too long, we can end up getting not feeling our best thanks to hormones like cortisol that decrease immune function over the long term.
Restorative Yin is awesome because it provides everything we need to switch from fight or flight mode to rest and digest mode by activating our parasympathetic nervous system. In order to rebuild muscles, properly digest our food, and maintain a healthy immune system we have to make sure we’re spending a good amount of time in parasympathetic mode. So if you’re going to 5-7 vinyasas a week, but not noticing any change in muscle tone, it could be that you need to take a break and give your body a chance to rebuild after that last killer class.
So there we go folks! Those are some of my favourite benefits to a Restorative Yin practice.
If you’re looking for a way to get on your mat in the comfort of your own home, you can sign up for my Tuesday evening Restorative Yin Yoga classes right here from 7:00pm AST to 8:00pm AST.
Stay safe and take care of one another!