A restorative practice for you, mama
Feeling stressed, wired, or distracted? We know the feeling.
Join our yogi mama friend Julia in a restorative practice. We'll break it all down here for you, and when you're ready, you can join us anytime for the practice:
I’m Julia, a yoga teacher who loves sharing restorative practices. When I first learned about restorative yoga I thought it seemed odd to “practice” relaxation/rest - but as I learned the nuances and benefits of doing so, I became a convert to this gentle and healing practice.
I’m a mama so I understand how precious every minute is -- and isn’t it a challenge that when we’re at our busiest, our most stressed, and arguably feel we have the least time to rest (when we have young kids), that’s when we likely need it most?
I have learned that being go-go-go physically and mentally, with no moments of rest, will take a toll. I believe if we don’t support our systems proactively with time to rest and restore, eventually our bodies and minds will make us stop and pay attention by talking to us through pain or illness. Restorative techniques can strengthen the connection with the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/digest), which can initiate healing, and help balance the more activated “fight or flight” state we often find ourselves in in this fast-paced, demanding, noisy, distracting world.
While I do not think we need every thing we do to be in service of our children, and I think taking care of ourselves for the sake of ourselves is beautiful and important, we know that caring for ourselves ripples outwards into being able to better support those around us. So while I hope you’ll try this/other acts of self-restoration just for you, know that your little ones will benefit from it (and from seeing it modeled!).
What is this class/How should I setup?
This is a short practice of gentle movement, breathing + a restorative yoga pose which we’ll hold in stillness for a while (it takes time for your system to let go of tension and drop in to a state of “active” relaxation…active meaning we’re awake, although if you fall asleep, nbd 😉 ).
It is pregnant-, postpartum-, any stage mama – friendly but as always, modify anything you need to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
In restorative yoga we look to be super supported so that our bodies can fully relax and props help with this. For this class, I will use:
- a bolster
- 2 blocks
- these can easily be subbed for with pillows, hardcover books, couch cushions, blankets and towels
Note that we are NOT stretching in this practice – we are not looking for any deep sensation in the muscles/joints and props can help with this. I want you held, mama – like a baby.
I recommend you setup in a distraction-free space with the lights low or off.
Dress comfortably and warmly – pajamas, sweats, sweaters, cozy socks, blankets. Add an eye pillow if you like, whatever helps you experience relaxation.
Some people like to practice in silence or if you like gentle music, feel free to play the Spotify playlist linked here or your own background music (I recommend you pick music that doesn’t have words, gentle ambient sound is best for low distraction)
This can be done any time of day/night! Can be a nice morning moment to yourself, a naptime break, a pre-bed wind down, a post workout cool down, really any time is great.
The benefits are cumulative which means the more you practice, the more your system remembers how to drop into deep relaxation and the more you experience the benefits. My suggestion for a regular practice is to pick one restorative pose or breathing technique aimed at bringing your parasympathetic nervous system online and doing that for anywhere from 1 – 20 minutes a few times a week.
Happy Rest & Restoring!
More Background: What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a grounding practice where we take gentle, supported poses, and settle into comfort, stillness, and quiet for anywhere from 5 – 20 minutes/pose. This practice has many benefits, but its main goals are to heal and restore. It is an invitation to let go of effort and tension and initiate healing across your entire system.
- Deeply relaxes the body
- Combats the effects of stress
- Boosts the immune response
- Eases common issues, e.g., headaches, backaches, anxiety, and insomnia
- Assists with injury prevention and promotes mobility
- Strengthens the connection with the parasympathetic system – the rest and digest part of the central nervous system – which has many healing benefits (e.g., aiding in digestion, heart health)
- Stills the mind, allowing the practitioner to settle into meditative states*
* It can be a meditative experience but worth noting that sometimes people find it challenging or even stressful because stillness & silence with no distraction is a not a state most of us find ourselves in these days (esp. busy mamas) – even more so why a practice like this is beneficial to people who are constantly doing/going.
Other breathing techniques for relaxation
We don’t go deep into breathing techniques in this class but deep breathing is an excellent way to calm the system. And it’s something you can do anytime, anywhere, even if only for a few rounds of breath. If you’re interested in practicing different styles, look up:
- Belly breathing
- Ratio breathing (breathing to a count, especially those where the exhale is longer than the inhale)
- 4-7-8 breath (helpful to combat anxiousness and insomnia)
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