I had the privilege of attending a restorative yoga teacher training with Jodi Boone last weekend. Restorative yoga is a very restful form of yoga where you 'hold' poses for longer than a normal yoga class while supported by blocks, blankets and bolsters. The beauty of this type of yoga is that it's the antidote to stress, and you may experience a profound feeling of peace and relaxation during and after the practice. I was drawn to this type of yoga after attending many 'power', flow, Bikram and vinyasa types of yoga classes. I would often feel like I got a good workout for my heart and muscles, but it didn't feel like yoga, and I wasn't receiving the benefits of feeling rested and peaceful. I knew that yoga was originally developed to prepare the body and mind for meditation, and these fast-paced classes were not doing that for me. Faster forms of yoga have benefits for sure, but to truly get the restful benefits of peace for body and mind, it's necessary to slow down and restore.
Another aspect of a restorative yoga practice is that studies have shown it to be correlated with healthy weight and weight loss. Why? Because so many of us have stressful lives, and high levels stress hormones like cortisol encourage bodies to hang on to fat cells, and are linked to belly fat and weight gain. Restorative yoga moves your body's nervous system from the sympathetic 'fight or flight' mode to the parasympathetic 'rest and digest' mode. Do you think our bodies might process food better if we slow down and let them? In the parasympathetic mode, blood flows from your extremities back to your core so your heart, liver and organs can get the blood and nourishment they need for optimal functioning. Restorative yoga is like an adult nap, and when you rest with awareness, there are profound benefits for your body and mind.
Check Jodi's and Heather's websites for some restorative classes around Seattle.