Benefits a Restorative Yoga Practice
It is believed that restorative yoga, with its slow poses and breathing exercises, activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body’s fight or flight responses. This places the regular nervous system at rest, and the muscles tend to become more relaxed.
Constant practice of restorative yoga will make your body less vulnerable to stress-related illnesses and other chronic conditions that are aggravated by stress, like migraines. After a class, it often seems that I can feel a new sense of calm on a cellular level. Even if I came in with a migraine in full attack mode, I leave with it calmed and manageable.
It Encourages You to Be Mindful
Restorative yoga encourages you to look within. Awareness of your physical sensations, your thoughts or emotions and the sounds all around you can take on a deeper significance in how you feel and view your day-to-day activities. This brings a greater feeling of peace, which I think is helpful in preventing migraines.
The comfortable pace of restorative yoga opens the doorway to a deeper understanding of your own body, mind and spirit. You can feel the poses and each muscle stretch or flex and you develop a level of consciousness about how to relax these muscles, even as you go about your day and are not doing yoga.
The more I practice yoga the more I can see the direct cause and effect between my poses, my breathing, and my overall feeling of well-being. I have found that over time I have begun to make more deliberate and attentive choices, both on and off the mat.
The idea of yoga is not to force yourself into painful poses, but instead, releasing and surrendering to them. This allows you to cultivate acceptance of your body and its limitations.
Yoga should not hurt. This is not a “no pain, no gain” activity. After practicing a while, as the poses come with increased ease and comfort, it is easier to gain acceptance and detachment naturally from things that challenge the body and your level of comfort.
To Get the Most of Restorative Yoga Poses You Should:
- Let go and soften and relax your belly. This is not the time to be holding anything in.
- Breathe naturally throughout the length of each pose
- Relax everything including your face, jaw, and tongue
- Take your time getting out of, and into, each of the poses
The benefits I have discovered are not isolated solely to restorative yoga, but this type of yoga is gentle enough that even a novice, like myself, can achieve the poses and reap the benefits.
If you’ve never explored this style of yoga and you suffer migraines, I encourage you to give it a try.