YOUR YOGA MOJO BLOG
De-stress, Relax and Heal with Restorative Yoga
Moriah Diederich, Yoga Mojo
Holistic Yoga Therapist™, RYT500, Accessible Yoga Teacher
We live in a society of “too much” and “never enough.”
Too much running around, too much work, too much stress, too much to-do. Never enough time.
The Stress Response
I recently attended a Restorative Yoga Teacher Training with Jillian Pransky in Southern California. During the training, Jillian said that 90% of doctor visits can be attributed to stress. 90%! She then broke down the science of stress, and why our health suffers so much when we are chronically stressed.
It takes a split second to initiate the stress response. This is also known as fight, flight or freeze, and is our body’s survival mechanism when we sense danger. When triggered, the body diverts energy away from the immune, digestion, elimination, reproduction, and growth/repair systems. When we become chronically stressed, and do not make time to relax and unwind, these systems are lacking the energy needed for the body to function properly and heal itself.
Stress can be triggered emotionally and physically. It can come from worrying about money, work, health issues, family, or the daily to-do list. Stress can also be triggered physically, whether by pain or forcing the body to push past its physical limits. This could be from overtraining athletically, or from doing too much “stuff” and not getting enough sleep.
A simple restorative yoga pose can be done at home by lying on the floor, a couch or a bed with a pillow under the head and another under the knees. Close your eyes and tune into your breath, body and mind.
During a private 60 min. Restorative Yoga class at Yoga Mojo & Movement Therapy in Vancouver, Washington, blankets, bolsters and blocks support each pose to create the most support for the body to relax, de-stress and begin the healing process.
The Relaxation Response
In our society of “too much” and “never enough” it has become very easy to put off the very things that help us to heal – like sleep. I once worked for a company that awarded an employee for working 30 hours straight. Clearly this company did not understand the importance of its employees’ health and well-being, and how much it can impact the company financially through sky-rocketing insurance premiums (remember 90% of doctor visits can be linked to stress), employee burnout and turnover.
It takes approximately 20 minutes to initiate the relaxation response. Once relaxation begins, the body reengages the immune, reproductive, growth/repair, digestion and elimination systems so healing can take place. This means that when we find ourselves in a chronic state of stress from pressures at home and/or work, taking a five minute break to eat lunch and head back to your desk isn’t enough to allow your systems to recover and heal.
Healing with Restorative Yoga
In order to be more available for our loved ones, better at our job and to use our bodies to their fullest potential – we need to be able to rest and allow for healing to take place. It is critical for our own health and well-being to make time for relaxation, and to literally hit the pause button and divert our attention to something we don’t often think about: ourselves.
Jillian uses a wonderful analogy of a loved one who needs your listening and compassionate ear. Imagine how much attention you would devote to your dear friend in need. Now, imagine that you could offer this same level of attention, devotion and compassionate listening ear to yourself:
Is it possible to add “me” to the to-do list today?
Can I make time for me, to rest without “doing” each and every day?
Restorative Yoga can be a wonderful way to consciously make time for yourself. Restorative yoga is a legal rest –time that you’re allowed and encouraged to unwind, do nothing, and just be in your mind and your body.
Restorative Yoga offers support for the body through the use of blankets, bolsters and blocks so that nothing in the body is actively efforting. There is nothing to do – not even stretch. Instead, Restorative Yoga is intended to give you time and space for the body and the breath to do what it does naturally.
Meditation and pranayama, or breathing exercises, are incorporated during this time to help the brain unwind from the day and turn its attention to the body and the breath.
HOW TO PRACTICE RESTORATIVE YOGA
Find a quiet, peaceful space to lie down. It could be the floor, or on a couch or bed – somewhere comfortable. Remove any distracting sounds so that it’s either quiet or there is soft, peaceful music playing.
Place a comfortable pillow under your head to make sure your neck is fully supported without having to carry the weight of your head. Place another pillow under your knees so that your legs can extend without any pull on the back and your legs can rest without any muscular effort.
Begin to scan your body from head to toe. Are there places where your holding? Does it feel like you’re muscles are still lifting you up, ready to pounce on the next thing to do after this? Do you feel the tension in these muscles, the way they’ve contracted and are engaged?
Notice one area that seems particularly tense, and bring your attention here.
On your next inhalation, feel as though you can send your breath into this place in your body. Allow the breath to move here, inhaling to create space, and then releasing into the support underneath you on the exhale. Let this area become softer and softer with the breath, as it sinks heavier and heavier into the support underneath you.
Thank this area for all of the work it is doing for you, and offer words of encouragement that it can relax. That it doesn’t have to hold you as you lie here in this comfortable, safe space.
Let this area become softer and softer with the breath, as it sinks heavier and heavier into the support underneath you.
Once this area feels softer and more relaxed, scan your body again for any other areas of tension and holding. Continue this process until you feel your body full resting, fully relaxed. Feel the breath as it moves through you. Inhaling, exhaling.
Know that your body is healing for you in this very moment. Thank your body, your breath and your mind for all they do for you every day. Relax here and now, and enjoy this moment for as long as possible.
FEEL BETTER IN YOUR BODY!
I am passionate about helping my clients learn how to realign themselves in order to breathe, move and live better. Please contact me if you would like to learn how to relax and manage stress with Restorative Yoga. I’d love to help you feel better in your body!
Learn more about Restorative Yoga
Jillian Pransky, Deep Listening: A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind, and Open Your Heart, October 10, 2017, Rodale Books
Jillian Pransky, Calm Body Clear Mind DVD
Moriah Diederich is a certified Holistic Yoga Therapist, RYT500 and Accessible Yoga Ambassador, and has been featured on KGW8 Portland Today. She owns Yoga Mojo & Movement Therapy in Vancouver, WA, where she offers holistic yoga therapy and private yoga classes customized for each client and their specific needs. Moriah is passionate about helping people move more comfortably on a daily basis with the energy to enjoy family, community and the world around us. She believes that every individual can benefit from yoga because the practice is accessible to everyone and teaches us how to sustain healthy movement for life. Moriah lives in Camas, Washington with her best friend and husband Bret Canfield and their two furry kids: a couch potato Pitbull named Rookie, and a sweet and sassy green-eyed cat named Evie.
Yoga Mojo & Movement Therapy
108 SE 124th Ave, Suite 18
Vancouver, WA 98684
Mon – Thurs 10a – 4p
By appointment only
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Yoga Mojo & Movement Therapy is conveniently located off I-205 and Mill Plain and serves all of the Clark County, Washington area including Vancouver, Washougal, Camas, Felida, Salmon Creek, Ridgefield, Battle Ground, Hockinson and La Center.The second exit after the NB I-205 bridge, Yoga Mojo is also quick and easy to get to from Portland, Oregon.