What’s True Yoga?
True yoga is designed to connect our mind, body, and soul. Chanting, meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) are yogic methods of centering. However, asanas, the physical branch of yoga, commonly referred to simply as “yoga,” has gotten the lion’s share of followers.
While asanas ideally serve the purpose of uniting our physical, emotional and spiritual, the end result is often forgotten by yoga followers who are looking for a workout. Restorative Yoga is not yet a buzzword, but it’s an excellent way to nourish the mind, body, and soul. Restorative Yoga eliminates discomfort, no matter your age, weight, injuries, or physical limitations.
“The soft medicine of Restorative is an essential antidote to modern living,” says Wisdom Methodtm School of Yoga’s Director, Kellie Adkins. “Restorative Yoga is the perfect antidote for the do-more mentality so prevalent in our culture. Restorative Yoga allows us to reset our internal clock, to restore our body’s natural circadian rhythms, and to temper the hyper-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system with the relaxation response.” Adkins, whose school is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, adds, “Applying gentle therapeutic stretches and compression restores balance to the nervous system and harmonizes the physiological and energetic systems.”
Using comfortable props like pillows and bolsters, a qualified yoga therapist guides practitioners with a wide range of conditions to relax in a comforting position for a number of minutes.
Molly Pullig Schatz, M.D., saw remarkable benefits from this yoga practice when she was experiencing severe pain from endometriosis. Now, she gives Restorative Yoga as an Rx for backaches, neck discomfort, high blood pressure, asthma, migraines, chronic fatigue, COPD, and even cancer.
Research has confirmed its therapeutic benefits. The University of California – San Francisco conducted a study among menopausal women suffering from severe hot flashes. The women practicing Restorative Yoga experienced a 30 percent decrease in hot flashes. Another UC – San Francisco study focused on under-active, overweight adults with metabolic syndrome. All participants responded with the highest possible satisfaction rating, and the researchers concluded that Restorative Yoga was an appropriate intervention for this population.
Research on Restorative Yoga
The University of Alabama – Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center offered Restorative Yoga for cancer patients. One of the participants, Jennifer, talked about her experience undergoing treatment. “When I lie down on this mat, in this room, following my cancer diagnosis, I find I that I may start to well up and cry… that’s the spiritual and emotional cleansing that’s helping me during this time. Now, I’m pampered and I love it. It strengthens me. I can’t wait to get here. I always feel better afterwards.”
Another study among cancer survivors was conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The participants experienced reduced fatigue better sleeping patterns and a higher quality of life. Karen Mustian, assistant professor in the Rochester department of radiation oncology and preventive medicine, confirmed, “The data from this study is one of the first steps in the direction toward insurance coverage. Clinicians should now feel pretty comfortable prescribing gentle hatha yoga or Restorative Yoga for their patients.”