Particularly in the Western world, we have developed an emphasis on using yoga for weight loss and fitness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for me, yoga is all about relaxation.
Yes, it is possible to get super fit using only yoga, you only need to check out Kino MacGregor for proof of that, but you’ll notice that she’s using that power for spiritual enlightenment, not simply amazing abs.
Yoga specifically designed for relaxation has been coined restoritive yoga, and looks amazing!
“Restorative yoga is about letting go of your stresses,” said certified instructor Kim Swanson, who teaches the classes at Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club in Joliet. “The postures honor the body and allow you to release the stress you may have accumulated during the day.” Swanson said the various poses in restorative yoga are designed to allow the parts of the body to rejuvenate and stretch by counteracting, in a way, the day’s burdens on it.
Well – that sounds right up my street! I currently use and teach a combination of Vinyasa style flowing yoga to make you sweat to keep your mind focused and less likely to wander back to your troubles, and long and deep relaxation, once the mind is already still and receptive. I’m not 100% sure I could do a full class of just relaxation poses as my mind would probably get too distracted but I do like the one below.
An example is the “elevated legs up the wall” pose. While lying next to a wall, with a pillow underneath the hips or lower back, the legs are propped up against the wall. No muscles are used to maintain the position, Swanson said. It’s just total relaxation and an arching of the back in the opposite way that the back is held all day long.“It’s a gentle backbend,” she said, “that allows blood that pools in the legs to have a break and all go back to the heart.”That’s a great pose if you’re on your feet all day, she said.
Why not give it a try?!