Yes, it might be hard to believe, but one of the keys to reducing our modern-day stress levels could be through the practice of one of the world’s oldest forms of exercise and spirituality: Restorative Yoga and its sister, Yin Yoga.
What’s in it for you?
Restorative yoga has a therapy focus, which means it’s a great form of exercise for anyone carrying injuries or medical conditions which make other forms of exercise impossible and even inadvisable. Most postures within restorative yoga routines include the support of props, to aid balance and reduce impact or stress on injuries, whilst the focus on holding positions for longer in Yin Yoga means that, over time, a real difference to body shape and tone can be seen.
Undoing the desk damage
Tension as well as poor posture from desk-bound day jobs or repetitive work-based tasks means that our muscles become over-stressed from the daily grind surprisingly easy and can even restrict our mobility. Yin yoga can offer the same beneficial and targeted effects as acupuncture, but has the added benefits that the deep breathing and relaxation also de-stress the mind, plus you can practice it yourself at home once you are familiar with the postures and how they work.
Sorting that stress
Where other forms of yoga, such as “Power Yoga” or Vinyasa focus on strength and stamina, restorative and Yin yoga have an emphasis on therapy, which can offer maximum benefits to de-stressing our over-stimulated minds: stress which can affect the body through medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and heart disease. Slowing down to take a moment to stop and just breathe is not only cleansing to the mind but can also greatly reduce that illness-inducing stress.
Bring on some balance
Lack of balance in our lives is a common source of both stress and illness in the 21st century. We’re caught up in a highly automotive world where gadgets for our ‘convenience’ abound, so why are we still working so much? Partly because we’re expected to, but those expectations upon us to work harder, faster and longer in order to produce more lead to burn-out and that sense of imbalance between life and work.
Add to that the fact that many of our gadgets for greater ease of communication, such as laptops and cellphones, mean that we are required to be contactable, no matter what, so as a result we can claim very little down-time: even when we think we are at home relaxing, we’ve got into the habit of being ‘on-call’.
To help create the time to break bad habits and restore balance, yoga retreats and yoga vacations are becoming more popular in the 21st century, to help de-stress many who need to be out of circulation in order to reset the balance of both mind and body.
Prefer to sleep on it?
The body’s biggest weapon to promote self-healing is sleep, yet many of us remain with our brains switched on overnight due to stress, meaning poor quality sleep and lack of restoration. Learning the art of meditation through yin yoga is ideal for bringing on the restorative benefits of first stage sleep, whilst remaining awake. To learn this properly, time spent at a meditation retreat with hands-on guidance in meditative techniques may be of maximum benefit in breaking bad sleep habits and supporting the body’s efforts to restore us though sleep, by using meditation to promote self-healing.
Of course activity is also necessary to maintain our well-being but finding balance in work, rest and play is essential to this. Whilst the principles behind therapeutic yoga might be quite ancient, the fact is that they still apply to today’s busy world and are even more important than ever for reducing stress, depression and our vulnerability to major medical issues, so if your balance is skewed, consider restorative yoga as a holistic health practice to take us through this 21st century mayhem!