How to Use Restorative Yoga to Decrease Stress
Do you feel like life is stressful?
I’ve been there... and I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t have to allow your energy to be drained just because the world you live in is a crazy, hectic place. You don’t have to let politics, the economy, or even everyday conflicts lower your spirits and cause you concern.
This week I want to give you a tool you can use to ease those feelings of stress… something that will wash away your worries and move your body, mind, and spirit into a more relaxed state of being...
What I’m talking about is restorative yoga.
All yoga can be good for lowering your cortisol levels (that’s the hormone in your body that makes you stressed!), but there is something special about restorative yoga...
...And in this article I’m going to show you three of the most effective poses that you can incorporate into your routine to keep yourself healthy, happy, and calm.
If you’re ready for a more in-depth dive into healing your stress and anxiety, check out my Reiki Home Course here. It’s the quickest way to learn how you can heal yourself with Lifeforce Energy.
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
Practicing this unique type of yoga allows you to create the perfect conditions for your body to activate the “Rest and Digest” part of your nervous system.
The goal of restorative yoga is to let your body feel calm and at ease...
It’s an invitation for your body to move into relaxation mode.
When you make restorative yoga part of your regular routine, you’ll also experience many of these benefits…
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved digestion
- Reduced fatigue and better sleep quality
- Better blood flow and heart function
- Stronger immune system
- Slower breathing, heart rate, and brain waves
- And an improved ability to heal your mind, body, and spirit
Now let’s take a look at some of the negative effects stress could be having on your body if you don’t learn how to keep it under control...
Effects of Stress on Your Body
I’m sure you know the many ways that stress can mess with your everyday routine, but let’s go over some of the symptoms that can come with those feelings of anxiety and worry.
Upset Stomach… you may experience diarrhea, constipation, or both.
Skin Problems… you may start to see some of your teenage acne reappearing.
Weakened Immune System… your sniffling nose and chronic cough may seem to last forever.
Chronic Pain and Fatigue… you may constantly feel like you need a nap.
Mental and Emotional Distress… your mood suffers as feelings of depression and anxiety start to become a regular occurence.
Chronic Disease… if you let stress go on for long enough you will be at a higher risk of developing life threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Needless to say, I don’t think any of us would voluntarily keep our bodies in this state of both physical and mental pain.
But enough about the negatives… Now that you know how bad stress can be, and how good restorative yoga can be, let’s take a look at what makes restorative yoga different from other types of yoga. Then you’ll be ready to practice it on your own!
How Restorative Yoga is Different
Most people think of yoga as a way to exercise, stretch, or learn how to stand on their heads. Some types of yoga focus on those practices, but not restorative yoga.
Restorative yoga is about opening and supporting your body while just being with yourself.
But how do you do that?
Here’s that special element I was talking about earlier…
Tons of props!
When you practice restorative yoga, you get to use blankets, bolsters (big yoga pillows), blocks, and straps to support your body while in each pose.
You don’t have to use any muscular energy… just let your body fully relax into the comfort of your props as you activate your parasympathetic nervous system.
That’s right. No planks… no warrior poses… no sweating or getting out of breath… just completely supported postures that help ground your body and calm your mind.
Restorative yoga focuses on
- Muscle relaxation
- Even breathing techniques
- And awareness of the present moment
That first focus, muscle relaxation, is the one key element that other forms of yoga don’t offer.
When you allow yourself to release the tension in your body and feel yourself fully grounded on the earth, a sense of calm begins to wash the stress away.
Feeling grounded is all about your Root Chakra. Learn how you can channel Lifeforce Energy into your Root Chakra, even when you’re not in these restorative poses, by exploring my Reiki Home Course.
It’ll walk you through step-by-step how to use Reiki to heal your stress, and so many other areas of your life, as you learn to connect into your Root Chakra. Click here to check it out now.
The grounded sensation that comes from a balanced Root Chakra allows you to feel supported and let go of tension in your body. And that’s what makes restorative yoga an effective tool for reducing your stress.
Are you ready to try it?
Restorative Yoga Poses
Here are three of my favorite yoga asanas (postures) that you can do to help you combat the chronic stress you feel in your life.
These restorative yoga poses will help you slow down, relieve tension, and allow your body to fully relax.
Before you start, grab a few pillows, some blocks, and at least two blankets that you can use to support your body and allow your muscles to soften into.
The following postures can be done any time you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or just need some time to let your body and mind unwind from a long day. Try to do each one for at least three minutes to really see the benefits.
The goal is to find relaxation. Try to focus your mind on your breath. Don’t let yourself be distracted by a conversation you had earlier in the day, or your to-do list for tomorrow.
Once you’ve got your props, find a quiet place… somewhere that you won’t be distracted… a comfortable area that is perfect for allowing yourself to find peace within.
1. Supported Child’s Pose
Start by kneeling on the ground and make sure your props are close by. You’ll need them in just a moment.
Bring your big toes together and sit back on your heels.
If this creates pressure in your knees, tuck a folded blanket between your thighs and calves.
Let your knees be wide and begin to build a pile of pillows and blankets between your legs. You’re creating a comfortable structure that you can rest your upper body on top of without using any muscular effort.
Lower your chest toward the props. Once you make contact with the pillows and blankets, all you have to do is relax...
...let yourself melt into the comfort of the earth and the softness of the props beneath you...
...take a deep breath into the back body and let your eyes gently close...
...allow the pose to calm your mind and relieve any lingering stress or anxiety from your day.
Once you give it a try, you’ll see that this posture is ideal for turning on the “rest and digest” response in your nervous system.
It can also help anyone experiencing back or neck pain find relief.
Just make sure you’re completely comfortable in your posture, or your mind may become agitated, taking your attention away from relaxation.
Once you’ve allowed your mind and body to start to slow down, move onto the next pose (this one’s my absolute favorite!).
2. Spinal Twist
Begin by laying flat on your back with your blanket and pillows nearby.
Hug both of your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms around them. Then let your arms come out to the side in a “T” position.
On your exhale, lower your knees to the right side of your body, letting them land on a prop. You can use a blanket or pillows, or whatever feels comfortable under your knees.
As your knees fall to the side, make sure you keep your shoulders flat on the ground to maximize the effects of the pose.
Once you’re settled, all that’s left to do is simply relax…
...allow your knees to become heavy and sink into the support of the props beside you...
...let your eyelids flutter closed as you feel your breath filling up your left side body…
...release any tension in your shoulders… hips… neck… allowing your whole body to be soft...
Hold this position for around three minutes, then switch your knees, and props, to the left side.
Twists are especially good for…
- Improving digestion
- Reducing back pain
- Relieving stress and anxiety
- Detoxing the body
Make sure you don’t feel any discomfort. Use as many pillows and blankets as you need to find a relaxed position that allows your body to feel at ease.
After you’ve done both sides of your twist, it’s time for final relaxation...
3. Supported Final Resting Pose (Savasana)
This is the pose you get to do at the end of every yoga class. It’s the one that everyone looks forward to the most.
It’s so simple, yet so comforting and easeful. This pose has helped me find peace even after the most hectic days.
Are you ready to experience this ultimate relaxation for yourself?
Lay flat on your back. Have at least two blankets, a pillow or bolster, and two blocks (or props that can act as blocks) nearby.
Place your pillow right under the bend in your knees, letting them rest on top.
Slide a block, or any other solid prop, under each foot so they have something to rest on.
Fold up one of your blankets, and place it under your ribcage to gently open the heart. Use the other blanket for padding under your head.
Let your arms rest comfortably by your sides, palms facing up.
Take a deep breath in through the nose, and let a big sigh out your mouth…
...close your eyes…
…begin to relax your body, allowing your hands, feet, arms, and legs to all feel heavy…
...melt everything into the support of your props and the earth…
Practicing this pose can help...
- Calm your busy mind
- Reduce any stress, depression, and anxiety
- Offer relief from fatigue, headaches, and even insomnia
- Decrease your blood pressure
If you’re ready to find a deeper calm, a sense of ease, and a blissful state of relaxation, take some time to allow your body to experience the comfort of restorative yoga.
And for a more thorough self-healing experience, discover how you can channel energy into your Chakras to heal stress, pain, relationships, obesity, and more with my complete 3-level Reiki Home Course and certification. Just click the image below.