Restorative Yoga – why being still takes practice
Restorative Yoga is an extremely powerful practice. Even though it doesn’t look like you’re doing much, there is so much that happens beneath the surface!!
In Society, we’re encouraged to always be on the go and it’s seen as a badge of honour to be “busy”. You only have to ask someone how they’ve been and they’ll tell you ‘oh yes good, so busy!’
But our bodies are not designed to be on the go all the time. When we don’t prioritise time for rest in our schedules, our bodies continue to be under duress and in survival mode Sympathetic Nervous System), particularly when there’s high levels of stress. This can lead to chronic stress and other issues where our bodies signal to us that we need to stop. When we don’t listen to these signs from our body, they will get louder and more frequent until we are forced to stop (for example stress induced injury or illness).
Our bodies are designed with incredible self-healing modalities – but these are only accessible when we are in the rest & digest state (Parasympathetic Nervous System). When we are in a state of stress, our bodies are on high ‘alert’ to look out for and combat any potential threats. This means we are in the Fight or Flight protective mode. When we are in this state, all of the physical and energetic energy is sent to the areas of the body associated with the Fight or Flight response which will help us with incoming threats and everything else is pushed aside to deal with the immediate threat.
While this is necessary for survival in a number of life threatening situations, it is harmful when we are living in this state for long periods of time. When we don’t stop, our body doesn’t leave this state and so the body does not have the capacity to return to homeostasis.
Restorative Yoga is one of the best ways to create space for deep rest and healing. We create different shapes with the body using long holds, and lots of props like blocks, bolsters & blankets so the body feels safe to surrender into blissful silence and stillness. It is from this space where the body can activate its self-healing capacity beneath the surface.
The poses we come into in a Restorative Yoga practice can feel incredibly peaceful, but it doesn’t mean it is easy or without its challenges to sit with nothing but oneself.
Being on the go all the time can mean we aren’t used to being still or “just being” and it can actually feel quite uncomfortable or strange. The mind may start to run wild or come up with reasons to move around as a distraction from the stillness. Sometimes, there may even be physical, emotional and/or energetic triggers that may come up for us which we want to avoid because it is uncomfortable. But this is normal and these things only show up when we’re ready and they show up as an opportunity to heal.
It is important to learn to come back to the space in between the thoughts, be okay with stillness and let everything that shows up be present, seen and acknowledged in our practice without judgement. This is why it can take time to be comfortable being still in a Restorative Yoga practice. This doesn’t happen automatically and can take regular practice to find comfort within the discomfort.
If you have just started a Restorative Yoga practice or are thinking about including it in your Yoga practice, be kind to yourself and remember being still takes practice.