In an interview, Judith Hanson Lasater, the pioneer of Restorative Yoga (RY), was asked to list three benefits of RY and I really liked her honest answer, she said: “It will keep you from going crazy. You get along better with your family and people will like you better.”
There are so many benefits of RY. In this highly introspective and quiet practice it is not about movement; it is more about openness. We are activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that influences rest, nourishment and repair. This allows us to recharge and recover from physical and emotional stresses.
In RY, we create a safe environment to teach a deep abiding presence in connecting again and again to our sensations, our own bodily feelings. The moment we switch to sensations we are aware and our thinking shifts.
When we are caught up in our thinking we lose contact with sensations. This is why we use the physical sensations in RY to point us again and again towards awareness. So, with practice it becomes easier to be in the present moment. Being in the present moment is essential for a healthy relationship towards ourselves and others.
Moreover, when we are present with what is and we feel safe, our body relaxes automatically and we enhance our self-awareness, our so called Interoception improves. Interoception, a sense of wellbeing, is involved in many physiological systems, such as the cardiorespiratory or gastrointestinal system, but also endocrine and immune system. There are no side effects in RY, only benefits.
Overall, in RY we learn to rest intelligently and with regular practice we also improve our sense of wellbeing. This might indeed have the effect that we feel happier as a whole in body, mind and spirit. We begin a journey to a healthy relationship towards ourselves and the people around us. Judith Hanson Lasater might indeed have found a good way to describe the benefits of RY.
I hope to see you soon on the mat and so you can experience it for yourself!
Barbara Dagach, E5 Yoga Team
Judith Hanson Lasater
Stephen W. Porges