Yoga is something very special, an amazing personal development art with a complex science built into it. It has a rich history of over 5000 years, formulated founded in India by “Siddhis”, or in simple terms, individuals who studied the body and the way it holistically functions. These alchemists and surgeons systematized asanas, pranayama and meditation, to keep the body healthy and increase the longevity of the disciplined practitioner who also observes a healthy lifestyle.
To understand ‘restorative yoga’ (which has become a trend), let’s look at the chakras system: the chakras are energy centers, located along the spine, from the sacrum to the crown. The 7 chakras (root, belly, solar plexus, heart, throat, forehead and crown – Muladhara, Swadhishtana, Manipurna, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara) are portals through which the life force enters the human being, in conjunction with food, water and breath. When there is a lack of efficient flow of energy in the body due, for example, excessive emotions, overthinking, stress and a sedentary lifestyle, imbalances in the body and mind may be the root cause of, for example, anxiety, insomnia, and digestion problems.
Restorative yoga re-instates the harmonious balance necessary for vitality. The practice is usually slower than power yoga or other faster styles of exercise oriented yoga. There is emphasis on deep, whole trunk breathing, deep stretches and deep relaxation, and has an element of meditation or mindfulness.
Let’s look at the what the chakras are about briefly before diving into the kind of yoga poses one could do for body restoration and rejuvenation.
This is the “root chakra” located at the bottommost position of the spine and it is responsible for driving us to crave certain kinds of foods and have the urge to perform other actions such as, sleep. It also controls emotions such as anxiety and fear.
This is so-called the ‘sacred’ center and its position is right above the genitals, in the pubic area, a few inches below the belly button. It regulates an individual’s sexual energy, and stimulate feelings of intimacy when required. This controls the organs in the pelvic region, the urinary system, and the regions below the hip including the hip itself.
This chakra is sensitive to vibrations from the surroundings (be it people or places) and it controls many internal organs such as the pancreas, liver, gall bladder, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and as well as the circulatory system.
This is the ‘heart’ chakra which controls the heart, the thymus gland, and has an influence on the immune system. This chakra is also responsible for controlling strong and complex emotions of an individual.
This chakra represents the intellect body and it draws a line of differentiation between the mental body and physical body. This influences the hearing and thinking of an individual and has a huge influence on a person’s metabolism.
This is known as the ‘third eye’ chakra. This controls various essential bodily glands such as the pituitary gland and controls the brain, as well as the nervous system.
This is the ‘crown’ chakra which governs self-realization and cosmic consciousness.
Now that we know a little about the chakras, let’s look at the kind of restorative yoga that we can do to keep them balanced and for us to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Many people shy away from trying out yoga as they feel obliged to contort their body into various pretzel-like forms when in actual fact, that is not necessary. Restorative yoga is all about stretching every muscle of your body and feeling the stretch. It requires you to be patient since restorative yoga sequences tend to be slow and painful as it opens up our joints, the tight knot in your muscles and gives you the kind of clarity that you’ve never thought you’ll experience.
One of the unique features of restorative yoga is that teachers recommend the use of props. Usually there are a few varying degrees of intensity to each asana and in order to slowly proceed from the beginner to intermediate to advanced stage as carefully as possible, props such as blocks and blankets are used for assistance.
Some restorative yoga poses
This is one of the ultimate poses of relaxation and it is often done as the first asana before starting restorative yoga sequence and as the last asana before to end off the sequence. This is also known as the corpse posture and the aim of this pose is to keep your body neutral with your spine completely flat on the ground. It is not as easy as it looks because it requires your entire body to be in contact with the flat surface, your palms to face upwards and you need to inhale deeply and slowly, as well as exhale extremely slowly.
The benefits of this asana: Entire body relaxation, tackles problems like anxiety, insomnia and depression, and lowers blood pressure.
This yoga pose is usually done as the second-last asana before savasana to end the restorative yoga sequence. This is known as the ‘child’s pose’ and it stretches your spine, your arms and quadriceps. It is important to not be too conscious about your breathing, and just relax yourself into this comfortable position and hold it as long as you desire.
The benefits of this asana: This is an excellent asana to relieve the tension in your neck and eliminate feelings of fatigue.
3: SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA
This is a slightly challenging asana but it can be performed with props like blocks and towels at the beginner level. Do not perform this if you have had a recent groin injury or if you have weak knees as it may exacerbate such health issues. You can perform other poses like gomukasanaas a follow up of this as well.
The benefits of this asana: This asana stretches the arms, the thorax, the groins, calve muscles and quadriceps and hence has various benefits to it. This restorative yoga pose stimulates lower abdominal internal organs such as the kidneys and adrenal glands, it tackles depression and menstrual problems for girls and women.
These are three simple restorative yoga poses among the very many that has amazing benefits to them. Restorative yoga sequences aremeant for relaxation and this is much needed in out busy lifestyle in this day and age. If you know how to take care of your body, your body will take care of you!