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Relax and Renew-Restorative Yoga

Relax and Renew By Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

Judith Lasater: The antidote to stress is relaxation. To relax is to rest deeply. This rest is different from sleep. Deep states of sleep include periods of dreaming which increase muscular tension, as well as other physiological signs of tension. Relaxation is a state in which there is no movement, no effort, and the brain is quiet.

Common to all stress reduction techniques is putting the body in a comfortable position, with gentle attention directed toward the breath to cultivate the relaxation response – “a physiological state characterized by a slower heart rate, metabolism, rate of breathing, lower blood pressure, and slower brain wave patterns.”

Relatively new in medicine is the specialty called psychoneuroimmunology, another way of saying that body and mind-or psyche, nervous system, and immune system-are connected. This specialty understands that the health of the psyche is reflected in, and partly created by, the health of the body, and vice versa.

By supporting the body with props, we alternately stimulate and relax the body to move toward balance. Some poses have an overall benefit. Others target an individual part, such as the lungs or heart. All create specific physiological responses which are beneficial to health and can reduce the effects of stress-related disease.

In general, restorative poses are for those times when you feel weak, fatigued, or stressed from your daily activities. They are especially beneficial for the times before, during, and after major life events: death of a loved one, change of job or residence, marriage, divorce, major holidays, and vacations. In addition, you can practice the poses when ill, or recovering from illness or injury.

How Restorative Yoga Works

Restorative poses help relieve the effects of chronic stress in several ways:

  • The use of props provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation.
  • Each restorative sequence is designed to move the spine in all directions. These movements illustrate the age-old wisdom of yoga that teaches well-being is enhanced by a healthy spine. Some of the restorative poses are backbends, while others are forward bends. Additional poses gently twist the column both left and right.
  • A well-sequenced restorative practice also includes an inverted pose, which reverses the effects of gravity. This can be as simple as putting the legs on a bolster or pillow, but the effects are quite dramatic. Because we stand or sit most of the day, blood and lymph fluid accumulate in the lower extremities. By changing the relationship of the legs to gravity, fluids are returned to the upper body and heart function is enhanced.
  • Restorative yoga alternately stimulates and soothes the organs. For example, by closing the abdomen with a forward bend and then opening it with a backbend, the abdominal organs are squeezed, forcing the blood out, and then opened, so that fresh blood returns to soak the organs. With this movement of blood comes the enhanced exchange of oxygen and waste products across the cell membrane.

To experience Restorative yoga come to one of Octopus Garden’s Weekly Restorative Classes.

Tuesday 730pm to 9pm with Elizabeth

Thursday 730pm to 9pm with Scott

Saturday 430pm to 545pm with Morgan (Relax and Restore- The rejuvenating class offers a gentler, active practice followed by deeply nourishing restorative postures.)

Sunday 430- 6pm with Marshal

Thank you Josh Cohen for sharing excerpts from:  Relax and Renew By Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.

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