If you always bypass the stockpile of props in your yoga studio, reverse and grab blankets, blocks, bolsters, straps, eye pillows and start a restorative practice today. Do it at home with a few cushions, pillows, a belt, towels and blankets. Restorative Yoga involves holding well supported and comfortable poses for 5 to 10 minutes. Make yourself cosy and make each pose as easy as possible. It is also the perfect practice when you don't have the energy for an energetic flow but want all the benefits of a yoga practice. Rest, relax and let go.
Reasons to start restorative yoga today:
1. Anyone can do it
Restorative yoga is accessible to everyone. The body is fully supported throughout this practice. You can make every pose work for you regardless of fitness, age, strength or flexibility. You can even do it in bed!
2. Rest and digest
Restorative yoga gives the body time to calm down, slow down, and rest. This deeply relaxing practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for rest and digestion. We spend most of our day in 'fight or fight mode' governed by the sympathetic nervous system. This practice is the perfect anti-dote to a busy lifestyle.
3. Quiet the mind
Endless to-do lists and multi-tasking means we are rarely in the moment. We can feel like we are running just to stand still. Restorative yoga provides constructive rest and quiet time for the mind. A regular practice can reduce anxiety, alleviate stress, and improve the quality of sleep.
4. Learn to let go
Relaxing can be challenging for most of us. We often rely on outside stimuli to help us relax - alcohol, food, exercise or TV. Practicing restorative yoga teaches us how to relax without a crutch. It is valuable skill to learn. Knowing how to relax is the key to finding balance on and of the mat.
5. Improve flexibility
If you practice more energetic styles of yoga or have a more active lifestyle, flexibility can often elude those with a strong more muscular physique. A restorative yoga practice is the perfect compliment to more dynamic styles of yoga or exercise in general. Allowing the body to release and let go has a hugely positive effect on flexibility. It also offers flexibility for the mind as it encourages us to shift our outlook from a 'no pain no gain' mentality to a more open, calm and receptive mentality. This can be a powerful meditative practice in itself.
6. Prevent and rehabilitate injury
Daily physical activity can result in micro tears in muscle tissue. Studies have shown that restorative yoga is more effective than sleep at healing the body. For those who suffer from sports injuries or compression and pain from daily activities, restorative yoga is incredibly effect at healing existing and preventing future injury through myofacial release.
7. And it feels damn good!
I am a yoga teacher and handstands scare me. Early this year I set a goal to conquer this pose within 3 months. I failed! I got completely caught up in the result. I was ruled by fear and that which I couldn't do. I hated the pose and avoided it at all costs.
A few weeks ago I changed my perspective. Instead of focusing on getting my hips and legs over my shoulders, I focused on staying grounded through my hands every time they made contact with the floor. I softened my shoulders. I ensured my core was engaged. I connected fully with the power of my breath. I approached the pose with a calm assertive energy. I detached from the outcome and started to enjoy the process. My own strength surprised me when I took the time to acknowledge what I could do rather than what I couldn't. Now I can hover, fingertips gripping the floor, for a few seconds. And I am happy with that. Will I ever comfortably stand on my hands for a few minutes? Maybe not but it doesn't really matter any more.
If there is something you feel you need to conquer in life - relationships, career, weight, anything at all - consider setting an intention rather than a goal. Apply that positive intention equally to all parts of your life. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and driven but measuring the value of your life and ultimately your happiness based solely on outcome is setting yourself up for a fall. If you don't reach the goal, you have failed. If you do, what next? The cycle starts all over again. Set an intention, empower yourself and enjoy the journey.
A zingy and refreshing start to your day.
You will need:
1/2 cup coconut water
handful of frozen raspberries
juice of a half lime
Blitz the ingredients in a blender and enjoy. So simple, so delicious
Our shoulders are vulnerable to repetitive motion injury particularly in vinyasa based yoga. Keep them safe and build strength with this simple alignment adjustment when lowering from high plank to chaturanga i.e. low plank. Externally rotate the upper arms in plank so that the inner creases of the elbows rotate a little more towards the front of the mat. Look forward. Bend the elbows straight back as you lower down half way to the floor. Energetically hug the elbows in towards the ribcage and NEVER lower the shoulders below elbow level. It's better to be higher than too low. Keep the core and legs strongly engaged to distribute weight evenly across the front of the body.
Grilled Peach and Blueberry Porridge
Porridge is the classic winter warming breakfast but this summer version is mildly spiced and bejewelled with berries. The scent of juicy sweet peaches is the essence of summer.
Jumbo porridge oats
Makes your porridge as you like it. I prefer mine made with water and a pinch of salt. It's not to everyone's taste I know. If you prefer to use milk go ahead.
Tear a peach into rough segments. Lightly dust with cinnamon and ground ginger and place under a hot grill, flesh side up until each segment is bronzed and blistered. Toast some flaked almonds in a dry pan until golden brown.
Add the grilled peaches to your porridge. Tumble over a handful of blueberries and scatter few of the toasted nuts over the top
Optional - add a generous spoonful of thick Greek yogurt.
Yoga Tips & Wellness Musings. Treats & Eats.