RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA involves supported body/mind relaxation. This is gentle, gentle yoga that promotes deep relaxation for stress reduction while also stretching and rehabilitating connective tissue.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Quick Sketch Of Restorative-Yin Yoga

Copyright Lance Kinseth, A Prayer Of Flowers, 24x30, acrylic/canvas, 2004

RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA involves supported body/mind relaxation.  This is gentle, gentle yoga that promotes deep relaxation for stress reduction while also stretching and rehabilitating connective tissue.

Restorative yoga is often practiced as an occasional retreat or respite from regular yoga practice.  Restorative-Yin yoga is designed to be a regular, often weekly/twice weekly, ongoing practice.

This is a good place to begin a program of exercise, or for stress reduction, as well as for high performance relaxation training.  Regular practice can contribute to a variety of healthful physiological changes.  Participants can leave this class feeling calm and tranquil, and extend this into everyday life.

RESTORATIVE YOGA allows the body to be totally supported by using props to relax muscles and body tissue to heal or restore or liberate an innate health rather than to “wear out” through positive physical stress for fitness, flexibility or stamina.  In restorative practice, props also go beyond support to cradle and swaddle and essentially contain the outline of the body.  Poses that are common to all yoga, such as forward and backward bends and inverted poses and twists, are typically held longer in restorative yoga, because support allows poses to be less stressful.  Balance and stretching muscles that people often find difficult in yoga are largely absent.  Yoga poses [asanas] are “amped-down” to be “restorative” and to create a place of rest and meditation. 
Not just relaxation after exercise, restorative yoga offers important, active training to access and stimulate physiological relaxation responses. These relaxation responses that are stimulated by selected poses concentrate on actively opening vascular, lymphatic, nervous systems and energy systems. Regular restorative yoga practice can contribute to a variety of healthful physiological changes that may extend into everyday life, such as reduced blood pressure and reduced brain arousal.
Giving over some time to relaxation in exercise is perhaps the most difficult aspect of restorative practice.  Often, yoga training tends to emphasize “core fitness” that may mimic the busy-ness and intensity that are now central to modern life.  Unlike most other yoga classes, gentleness and stillness and contentment [santosha] are emphasized in restorative practice.  Time is given over to listening to the body and deepening experience to encourage optimal health, thriving vs. surviving, and an authentic transformation of experience from being body-mind work to body-mind-and care-of-the-spirit.
The addition of YIN YOGA adds an ability to concentrate attention to connective tissue that may be only secondarily addressed in exercise, but that is a primary source of chronic health problems especially with age.  Particular attention is directed toward bringing the lower lumbar fascia and hips to a gentle physical edge to open, strengthen and increase their flexibility.  When combined with restorative yoga, this is yin yoga done with props or support to retain a strong relaxation element. Yin yoga adds focus on postures that exercise connective tissues [i.e., ligaments and fascia], with special emphasis on the connective tissues of the lower back and hips.  Especially with age, even athletes may be limited and even debilitated by connective tissue and joint problems in the hips and lower back.  A sequence of Restorative-Yin poses tends to involve a pose that stretches the lumbar/hip region that is followed by a counter-pose that stretches the affected region in an opposite direction.  Gentle inversion poses and spine twists are also added.  Across time, yin yoga can gently stretch and rehabilitate connective tissue and joint flexibility.
In RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA, The increased time spent in gentle poses also creates an opportunity to expand body-mind experiences to include spiritual/”being-ness” dimensions.  The calmness and quietness of the practice opens is a rich opportunity to listen to the body and sensations around the body rather than focus on doing something to the body in a effort to create “health.”  Across time, the meditative quality of this practice may touch an intuitive, inherent health within that generates joy and wonder and eloquence and contentment and compassion.  This is a penultimate, high-end outcome of restorative-yin practice. 

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