Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief

Are you looking for a deliciously relaxing way to counter stress? Restorative Yoga poses are the perfect antidote to a stress filled life.

Most of us work really hard. We rarely take time to rest and are often sleep deprived. Restorative yoga poses help us learn to relax and rest deeply and completely.

Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief

Restorative yoga photo courtesy of flickr – lululemon

According to Restorative Yoga Pioneer, Judith Hanson Lasater, author of Relax & Renew, restorative yoga poses help relieve the effects of chronic stress in several important ways. When you relax deeply, all of your body’s organs and systems benefit. This deep relaxation helps to reduce blood pressure, serum triglycerides and blood sugar levels, increase “good cholesterol” levels, and improve digestion, fertility, elimination, and sleep.

Restorative yoga poses are designed for times when you feel stressed, weak, or exhausted by life (such as during the holidays), when you are sick or recovering from an injury, or during major life changes such as loss of a loved one, changing jobs, moving, or divorce.

The use of props, such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks, create the support required for you to get as comfortable as you can so your muscles can completely release. The poses encourage gentle movement of the spine and usually include gentle inversions designed to reverse the effects of gravity, allowing the heart and circulatory systems to work more efficiently. Your heart rate and breathing slow down and blood pressure decreases.

The goal with restorative yoga is to make yourself as comfortable as possible and allow your muscles to release by using props to support your body so your muscles don’t have to work. Poses are held long enough for your body to receive the benefits of deep relaxation – often fifteen minutes or more. It’s the ultimate easy, effortless, serene yoga experience.

In a world focused on moving and doing, it is difficult to acknowledge just how powerful and healing relaxation can be. It is hard to give ourselves permission to do nothing and just be. But once we experience how much better we feel and function, making rest, relaxation, and restoration a regular part of our lives gets easier.

I often turn to restorative yoga poses to feel better following a flight to counter the effects of jet lag. If you will be flying this holiday season, are recovering from the flu, or are feeling the cumulative effects of trying to do too much, here are some restorative yoga poses to try.

Supported Bridge Pose

This gentle inversion opens up the chest and increases circulation to the upper body. Lying on two bolsters aligned end to end, slide toward your head until your shoulders lightly touch the floor with arms out to your sides, palms turned up. Rest with her legs stretched out on the bolster for five to ten minutes, or as long as you are comfortable. (Alternatively this pose can be done with knees bent and feet on the floor.) Make sure you are warm and comfortable.

Legs-on-a-chair Pose

This is a gentle variation of legs-up-the-wall pose, that promotes circulation to the legs, hips and low back and is calming to the nervous system. Lie on the floor and lift your legs on to the seat of a chair allowing your calves to rest on the seat and knees to snuggle into the seat’s edge. Rest here for several minutes. Make sure you are warm and comfortable and your environment is as relaxing as possible.

To learn more about Restorative Yoga, you make want to pick up a copy of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Yoga Expert and Restorative Yoga Pioneer, Judith Hanson Lasater.

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