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Why Restore?

This Sunday (October 2, 2011), Lisa Clark is going to be offering a Restorative Yoga workshop at Yoga Matrika, a most cozy and intimate community-based yoga studio in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh.  The workshop is just two-hours long, but the effects will last a lifetime.

You might wonder what the benefits of restorative yoga are, especially if you are healthy, injury free, athletic and tend to prefer active yoga practices with an emphasis on physical challenges.  Or, you might know that you desperately need a restorative practice, but can’t seem to justify the investment of time or money.  Maybe you aren’t even sure what restorative yoga is, but anything that might give you some peace and quiet for two hours just can’t be a bad thing………..

So, for the curious, here are some of the unique benefits of restorative yoga practices:

  • Activate your parasympathetic nervous system to fight illness and support optimum fertility, hormone balance, immune system and clarity of mind.
  • Lowers blood pressure.  Yes, even the Food and Drug Administration suggests that restorative yoga is highly effective non-drug therapy for hypertension.
  • Helps relieve chronic tension that can cause pain such as headaches and digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowl Syndrome.
  • Active relaxation improves mood and supports creativity and action sourced from intuition and grace.
  • Lower cholesterol and improve circulation
  • Better resistance to injury
  • Improve range of motion
  • Remove toxins from the body and support optimum health for liver, kidneys and endocrine system
  • Relieve sciatica and low back pain
  • Supports high quality sleep and can help relieve insomnia

The reality is that, for an amount of financial investment equal to a doctor visit co-pay, you can receive these significant benefits.  Of course, a regular yoga practice over time is your best investment for optimum health, but you will be amazed at how fabulous you feel after just one restorative yoga session.  If you would like to support your health with regular restorative yoga practices, April Lechwar teaches a one hour and fifteen minute restorative yoga class every Sunday evening from 5:45 to 7:00pm.

Here are some excerpts from Judith Lasater’s seminal book, Relax and Renew: Relaxing Yoga for Stressful Times:

 Stress Can Make you Sick

Stress begins with a physiological response to what your body-mind perceives as life-threatening.…For modern-day humans, this may be living with the fear of losing a job in a sagging economy, or the health crisis of a family member.

 

Whatever the stressor, the mind alerts the body that danger is present. In response, the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, secrete catecholamine hormones. These adrenaline and noradrenalin hormones act upon the autonomic nervous system, as the body prepares for fight or flight. Heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness, and muscle tension are increased. The adrenal hormones cause metabolic changes that make energy stores available to each cell and the body begins to sweat. The body also shuts down systems that are not a priority in the immediacy of the moment, including digestion, elimination, growth, repair, and reproduction.

 

To his detriment, modern man is often unable to resolve his stress so directly, and lives chronically stressed as a result. Still responding to the fight or flight response, the adrenals continue to pump stress hormones. The body does not benefit from nutrition because the digestion and elimination systems are slowed down. Even sleep is disturbed by this agitated state.

 

In a chronically stressed state, quality of life, and perhaps life itself, is at risk. The body’s capacity to heal itself is compromised, either inhibiting recovery from an existing illness or injury, or creating a new one, including high blood pressure, ulcers, back pain, immune dysfunction, reproductive problems, and depression. These conditions add stress of their own and the cycle continues.

Restorative Yoga for Health & Well Being

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.

 

This post was written by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, the owner and director of programs for Yoga Matrika and Matrika Prenatal.  She hopes to see you soon and often at The Mat in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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