Restorative Yoga is a powerful tool used by Yoga Therapists to treat people with injuries like low back pain and muscle rehabilitation, as well as in recovery from diseases such as cancer,diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and immune dysfunction. Pioneered by Judith Hanson Lasater, Restorative Yoga provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation.
The Practice of Restorative Yoga Requires Little Strength
Restorative Yoga utilizes yoga equipment — blocks, bolsters, blankets, and straps — to facilitate finding and holding poses for extended periods of time comfortably, usually three to five minutes. Also, most Restorative poses are done on the floor and require little strength or balance. This makes them perfect for people in early recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUD) because strength and balance often present challenges for them. Supported poses allow the participants to feel more in control of their own bodies, which is also beneficial for emotional and physical trauma.
Restorative Yoga balances the energy in the whole body
Each Restorative sequence is designed to move the spine in all directions. These movements illustrate the idea that well-being is enhanced by a healthy spine. Some Restorative poses are back bends, while others are forward folds. Other poses gently twist the spine both left and right, and stretch the body laterally.
A well-sequenced Restorative practice also includes an inverted pose, which reverses the effects of gravity. Whether putting the legs on a bolster or inverting the body over a chair in a supported shoulder stand, the effects are quite dramatic. Blood and lymph fluid tends to accumulate in the lower extremities because we stand or sit most of the day When we change the relationship of the legs to gravity,fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced.
In preliminary research on the effects of inverted poses, the Psychobiologist and Yoga teacher Roger Cole, Ph.D., found that they dramatically alter hormone levels, thus reducing brain arousal, blood pressure, and fluid retention. He believes that reversing the effects of gravity benefits the practitioner by slowing the heart rate and dilating the blood vessels in the upper body.
Restorative yoga also alternately stimulates and soothes the organs. In a forward fold blood is forced out of the abdominal organs as they are squeezed. In a back bend fresh blood is returned to the organs as the abdomen is opened to replenish them. This enhances oxygen exchange and the removal of wastes and toxins through the membranes of the cells.