Restorative yoga is the practice of supported postures, using bolsters, blankets, and pillows to bring the ground closer to us. These postures are held from anywhere between five and 20 minutes to allow the body to deeply relax. Because restorative yoga isn't seen as much of a "workout" compared to other styles of yoga, I often hear that it's more difficult to make time for. As a restorative yoga teacher, I'm passionate about providing a space for my students to slow down, press pause, and practice stillness. Supported postures can give us the opportunity to undo the habitual tension we carry throughout our days and give us time to truly rest. There are many concrete benefits to practicing restorative yoga, so consider trying a class near you or searching a free practice on Youtube!

1. Be in the present moment

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Holding restorative postures allows you to be in the here and now. You don't need to answer any texts or emails, finish any reading or homework, or take care of any errands. There's nothing you need to do except experience the present moment.

2. Reduce your stress level

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Restorative yoga is an evidence-based practice that reduces cortisol levels that build up in times of high stress. Additionally, restorative yoga helps to turn on the body's relaxation response. This means your body is able to slow down, relax, and breathe more slowly, deeply, and freely.

3. Quiet your mind

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Worried you won't be able to relax because your mind is always racing? The truth about relaxing is that many of us need to learn to do it and then practice until it becomes more familiar. It may take some practice to slow your racing thoughts, but focusing on your breath and feeling the support of the props underneath you will assist in quieting your mind's chatter.

4. Ease chronic pain and tension

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Restorative yoga benefits chronic pain and tension by gently stretching and improving mobility in the body. Additionally, conscious breathing and relaxation allow the body to heal, boost immunity, improve digestion, and bring a general sense of overall well-being that all contribute to a reduction in chronic pain.

5. Sleep more soundly

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Restorative yoga postures are powerful in their ability to prepare the body for a deep and restful sleep. Consciously relaxing can serve as a way to "train" your body into relaxation and allows us to practice turning our mind "off".

6. Practice self-compassion

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If you have trouble with showing yourself compassion and love because you don't want to lose your sense of ambition or drive, then restorative yoga can help show you how to give yourself the care that we all need. Just the act of taking time to do something beneficial for your well-being is an act of compassion and kindness.

7. Calm your nervous system

We spend so much of our days in our "fight or flight" state rather than "rest and digest". The slow pace of restorative yoga allows the body's parasympathetic nervous system to initiate its "rest and digest" functions that bring us back into a state of balance and stillness.

8. Be more patient and less reactive in relationships

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The saying "you can't pour from an empty cup" may be cliche, but it's also true. It's difficult to show up fully in relationships when you aren't taking care of yourself. Pressing the "pause" button to practice restorative yoga When you give yourself time to slow down, you cultivate a sense of calm and patience that carries into the rest of your life and benefits the people around you.

9. Expand your self-awareness

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Slowing down with purpose and intention may reveal more than you might expect. Where does your mind immediately go? Perhaps you have a hard time letting go of your to-do list, or notice old memories popping up out of nowhere. Restorative yoga can bring us relaxation and rest, but it can also help us learn to sit with the "stories" we tell ourselves. We can only know ourselves better when we truly take the time to listen with curiosity and receptivity.

10. Receive support and experience comfort

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Feel the sensations of the blankets and props that hold you up, and allow yourself to get cozy with whatever soft clothing, eye pillows, and extra layers you desire. Give yourself the care and nurturing you deserve.