Why you need restorative yoga now

With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, we have reason to be hopeful. But the rollout will take time, and we continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and exercise caution.

This pandemic hasn’t done anyone’s mental health any favors. We’re isolated, our routines are interrupted, we’re worried about our children and our parents and our livelihoods and how to take care of each other. Our nervous systems have been on high alert way longer that they’re designed to be, and that can result in interrupted sleep, feelings of isolation and loneliness, anxiety about the uncertainty of the future. All of this has very real implications for our mental and physical health.

Restorative yoga can help. Restorative yoga is a very gentle, slow, still practice that involves holding a short series of poses for longer periods of time, maybe 3-5 minutes or longer. Poses may be prop-assisted, using bolsters, blocks or blankets.

While a more active yoga class involves stretching and building strength, the work in restorative yoga is in the release. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic or relaxation response in the body, which helps to balance the nervous system. This allows our bodies and minds to experience deep healing and rest – something that is needed now more than ever.

Best of all, restorative yoga is accessible to everyone! Anyone can do it regardless of fitness level. Practicing at home and don’t have props? A firm pillow makes a great stand-in for a bolster, and a thick book or two can give the support of a block. And several local studios have stocked up on props for sale at very reasonable prices, to help people take up this very healing practice during the pandemic.

Finally, restorative yoga is a way to send some compassion to yourself during an unprecedented and extremely stressful time. It’s important (and very healing) for us to look at each other, to look at ourselves, and say, “I see you. I see your struggle.” And I don’t know about you, but I think we can all benefit from a little more compassion right now. When we heal, it ripples out to those around us.

If you want to give this deeply healing practice a try, I teach a restorative class at Arkansas Yoga Collective on  Wednesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. But if you’re not ready to venture back to the studio just yet, you’re not local to Little Rock, or you just prefer to practice at home, here’s a restorative practice video for you to enjoy.

Wishing you and those you love health and healing. Be well!