In restorative yoga, the person does not demand anything, not even stretching the muscles in a certain way or performing a specific posture.
The practice of relaxation and mental calm it is essential in personal development. That is why traditionally in yoga there are postures whose primary objective is relaxation and rest. With them you are not looking – not even with asanas classic yoga– Stretch the body more or better than another student or reach a certain level of perfection, but rather surrender to rest in every way.
Today it seems that acceleration affects us all. Commitments and responsibility easily overwhelm us. Furthermore, staying without doing something materially productive even starts to look frowned upon.
¿It really is a waste of time to rest, meditate, spend some time daydreaming or even sleep? All our activities are intended to have a profitable purpose and immediate practical utility. This is why caffeine sells so much. But coffee does not give energy but agitates it. And agitation is confused with energy.
On the other hand, when doing a posture like Savasana To end an intense yoga session, sometimes the person does not feel exactly calm, but rather exhaustion. In fact relaxation can be confused with exhaustion.
Some people blame themselves for being tired, using pejorative terms like “lazy.” Only when the extreme is reached that health is no longer sustained due to stressor you suffer insomnia, nervousness or some illness, the person allows practice relaxation, as if it were a doctor’s prescription or a luxury.
For this reason, dear reader, I invite you to interrupt your reading for a moment and reflect. Is there something in your life that you would do better by being calm and relaxed? Wouldn’t you be a better father, brother, son, neighbor, friend, professional …? Would you rather have a fast and nervous partner or a calm and relaxed partner? What kind of mind do you offer to your partner and to your community? What kind of mental attitude would you like to live with?
Rest is not a luxury but an essential necessity
Being calm and relaxed raises both our own level and quality of life and that of others. So rest is not a luxury but an essential necessity. When an animal gets sick he tends to isolate himself and stay collected, letting his body recover and regain balance.
Those who are thirsty do not feel guilty for wanting to drink, nor do they wait to finish their tasks to do so: they simply drink a glass of water naturally. But since rest is a process that takes timeWith it, a whole cycle of shame and guilt can start that agitates the mind even more.
What can really scare in the practice of stopping and resting is that conflicting emotions arise or having realized that there is something (a relationship, a habit, an attitude…) that truly does not serve us and that we do not know how to manage alone; as if we opened a box of surprises.
So stopping and realizing takes courage. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a professional who can accompany you through the process of true relaxation. However, the goal of relaxation practice is to be relaxed and calm outside of the yoga mat under the circumstances of everyday life.
Four brain waves
Since the invention of the electroencephalogram, numerous investigations have studied the relationship between the electrical activity of the human brain and its moods. Hence comes the medical division of brain activity into four basic frequencies as a function of the brain waves that captures the electroencephalogram.
The calls delta waves, the lowest frequency of brain activity, correspond to deep sleep. It is important that the body returns to this level daily, because in this state the production of red blood cells increases, the immune system is strengthened and the absorption of amino acids in the tissues and protein synthesis improves. The body regenerates with deep sleep.
This state corresponds to sleep, hypnosis and trance. A mind set on delta waves has little awareness of itself. The opposite state is that of waking, when the so-called beta waves, the state of alertness and attention to a physical or intellectual activity. In the state of predominance of beta waves it is also where anxiety appears mainly.
Between the delta and beta waves are the states called alpha waves and theta waves. The one with alpha waves corresponds to a state of tranquility and creativity, since it is where the activity of the left cerebral hemisphere begins to predominate.
The theta waves They are associated with a deeper state of calm, related to daydreaming or doing an automatic activity that does not require attention or awareness in its execution. Stress leads to spending the day forcing yourself to be in a continuous state of alert, the one corresponding to beta waves, to fall asleep in bed at night and then go through alpha and theta states while sleeping.
The only end is to stop and realize
It is important to allow yourself to go through other states of mind during the day. Dreaming, gazing into the distance aimlessly and spend time doing nothing consciously, even opening up to boredom –What the philosopher Walter Benjamin called «the bird that incubates the egg of our experience»- it is as important as sleeping and being alert when necessary.
In the restorative yoga classes the space is opened to practice these transient moods between activity and sleep, in order to hone the ability to return to them during the day.
This offers a revolutionary rest and relaxation practice. It is a training whose only purpose is to stop and realize. Stopping physically means that no dynamic posture is usually done in yoga classes. It is used, yes, quite a lot of material: blankets, belts, chairs, cylindrical cushions (bolsters), yoga blocks …
The wall allows any part of the body to be supported in order to be in positions where it can rest for a long period of time. In addition, as the support is symmetrical, the uniformity that the body receives through the proprioceptive system allows for further relaxation in the postures, which encourages a deep sense of trust and letting go.
Joints are not stretched or muscles are stretched
Contrary to classic yoga classes, which offer vigorous stretching and toning asanas, these other poses barely stretch the muscles in order to reduce stress on the body as much as possible. Stretching the muscles in an intense, forced or sudden way can stress the body.
In fact, the muscles can contract to protect themselves from an overstretch or a sudden and careless movement. So too the habit of demanding too much is broken, because when doing a practice without the goal of pushing or controlling the body se opens the space to another way of doing.
Another reason the muscles are hardly stretched in these positions is so that there are no unnecessary stimuli for the body to handle.
Combining these premises with the observation that an embryo has all the joints flexed has led to the development of a type of posture in which the joints are not extended and the muscles are not stretched. On the call Yin Yoga It does seek to stretch the muscles to gain more muscle flexibility and joint mobility – two factors that promote health.
But in the Restorative Yoga calm and peace are only sought through, literally, stopping to move and realizing what arises. The practice of stopping is so refined that music or visualization exercises are not usually used, as is the case for example in the Yoga nidra, another excellent discipline to create a deep state of relaxation.
All styles and currents of yoga complement each other, since the reasons for which yoga is practiced and the needs and abilities of the body change throughout life.
In restorative yoga, the practitioner seeks above all become familiar with the wise silence. During the postures, the eyes are usually covered with a mask and the body with a blanket, in search of warmth and darkness; two other elements that promote stillness and internalization.
Connect with consciousness
When you start practicing it is possible to feel nervous in that space of stillness and silence; But it is not the posture that creates the discomfort or uneasiness but the mental noise that previously existed and of which we are now more aware. Staying in resting postures, in silence and without any entertainment for the mind – such as music, visualization, directions from a teacher, etc. – allows an experience of connection with the depth of consciousness.
The restorative yoga is also suitable for those who suffer from injuries or impairments to participate in a common yoga class. In addition, it is recommended for pregnant women, who can enjoy a break that allows them to release accumulated tensions and create an open mental environment, which also generates a healthy biochemical environment for the fetus.
Be kind to yourself and others
Yoga is based on practicing a serene observation of what arises and trusting in human kindness and capacity to choose the best response to any situation or person. That is why it is said that an authentic yoga practice provides a radical change in perspective on life. The person feels more relaxed, patient, and kind to himself and to others.
Source: Body Mind