Restorative Yoga and It’s Origins

By Sherry B. Steine, RYT500

Restorative yoga is a specific style aimed at healing and wellness for anyone, regardless of their physical being. 

Called “Restorative” because it was initially refined by Bellur Krishnama Machar Sunradaraka, better known as B.K.S Iyengar, a yogi in India who found peace in his tragedy. Injured in a traffic accident, he found a way to allow the disabled, injured, and those needing peace and healing to practice yoga safely. He understood the need for a safe, gentle form of yoga after his injury in the traffic accident, being a dislocated spine, prevented him from teaching and practicing his former, more demanding style of yoga. 

Restorative yoga was practiced and refined by him to create peace, healing, and strength in the body and mind of the person without strain and risk of further injury. 

Designed to be profoundly refreshing and soothing, the combination of gentle poses (asana), breathing (Pranayama), and meditative reflection give surprising results that you would not expect for such a relaxing and calming practice. Practice is accomplished by holding simple poses for an extended period of time supported by props so that strain and stress are not placed on the body. As a result, you can completely surrender to the pose and the gentle stretch of the limbs while allowing the mind to relax with internal reflection. 

Restorative is an all-inclusive form of yoga that can be modified for anyone with almost any injury or condition. It is the warm, loving hug our bodies and minds desire to slow down and feel at peace in a safe place. 

What Are The Physical Benefits of Restorative Yoga? 

Restorative Yoga has the potential to have profound effects on the physical body. With the use of props and particular Asanas, the body can comfortably attain poses safely and supported to open the joints, release tension and enter into a “rest and Digest” state bought on by the Parasympathetic Nervous System, a part of the nervous system. You may also hear this called the relaxation response. 

Some have referred to this feeling as similar to being weightless or floating in complete peace. 

The nervous system is susceptible to stress, which can be caused by mental injury or physical and mental injury combined. Inflammation and chronically high cortisol levels are both symptoms of stress that you cannot see, but the effects of these conditions can be severe. High and chronic levels of cortisol can cause health conditions such as: 

• Poor Immunity leading to repeat infections.
• Digestive Issues including irritable Bowel Disease.

• Menstrual irregularities and pain
• Heart Disease.
• Depression and anxiety.
• Brain Fog.
• Weight Gain.
• High Blood Pressure. 

When restorative yoga is regularly practiced, and the nervous system is regularly targeted for this powerful calming, and soothing form of yoga, cortisol is lowered, inflammation is lowered, and the benefits are noticeable over time. 

The noticeable physical benefits are that you may lose weight over time due to lower cortisol, improved flexibility and balance, and your joint pain will be noticeably less. You will further lower your chances of developing a serious health condition. 

What Are Restorative Yoga’s Overall Mental Health and Wellness Benefits? 

While some may attend Restorative Yoga to gain physical benefits without the strain and stress of avoiding further injury, some choose to attend to soothe and calm a busy and worried mind. 

The world moves so fast in this day and age, and while we need to physically be in three places at once to achieve our to-do list, our minds are exhausted from the mental gymnastics of trying to keep up with modern life. 

Restorative yoga gives the ability to, for a short time, quiet your mind and reflect on being in the moment at that moment. Letting go of the stress of the time past and allowing the anxiety of the future to fall away and be placed on a shelf while you are just allowed to be. 

Imagine the freedom of being allowed to forget everything and take care of yourself, being guided through a practice about your being, your breath, your peaceful self, and letting go of every worry and stress. The profound and many benefits to your mental health once you allow this for yourself and surrender is such a sweet relief that you will fall in love with the blissful gift that it allows you to carry off the mat and into your everyday life. 

Your chatty worried mind will learn to put the brakes on useless worry, and you will find that you are generally happier, more relaxed, and not as triggered by minor inconveniences as you once were. 

More than laying on a mat, Restorative yoga is a retreat from the world that you can take an hour at a time. 

Consider adding Restorative Yoga to your life so it can weave its subtle but powerful magic and restore your peace. 

Sherry Burton Steine, is an award winning Author, Speaker, RYT 500 Yoga Teacher, Certified Feng Shui Consultant, Certified Interior Environment Coach, and Certified Color Therapist in the Washington, DC Area. Sherry is studying for her Certified Trauma Informed Essential Oil Specialist. Her company is SBW Aligned Expressions. Connect with Sherry!

Yoga on Gaia