Yoga itself is a great workout. It stretches, strengthens, tones and builds endurance. It can even have cardio. But yoga is also a great way to rebuild and repair your body from a workout that is either more cardiovascular or weight based.
There are tons of studies that show working out at an intensive level seven days a week becomes detrimental to progress. Sustained activity at that level begins to break the body down more than build it up. So for those that absolutely must do something, restorative yoga is an alternative.
I agree that the majority of restorative classes are led with some male challenging language. The level of open heart, inner goddess, restore your feminine power can be over the top for most guys. However, if you can get past that, restorative yoga is a great way to revitalize your body.
Restorative yoga offers a less strenuous workout so those of us that absolutely can’t take a day off have a way to keep the body moving. Since yoga is a body/mind/energy balancing form of exercise, it works with the body to bolster the immune system and promote healing as well as tone and strengthen. The restorative variants focus on the energy, health and healing aspects of yoga. What that means is it super charges your body’s healing power and gets sore aching muscles ready to go sooner with less chance of injury (I said less, not none).
Why Restorative Yoga Works
The base principle of a restorative set is to fully support the body so that it can fully and completely relax. I’ll say it again, fully and completely relax. This is why it works so well and why it gets a bad reputation as not being a workout.
Think about the last time you really truly relaxed. I’m talking about the complete surrender to the point you actually felt that knot in your neck/shoulder/back/jaw release. For most people it’s been quite some time. I like the feeling of being able to let go and not worry about supporting my body in any way.
A restorative set is designed to move the body in ways which encourage it to relax. At the same time, the mind is gently encouraged to a quiet state. This combination of a still, supported body and a quiet mind is a genuine rarity in today’s constantly connected age.
In any class I teach, Tae Kwon Do, yoga or meditation, I encourage my students to take our time together as an opportunity to set all distractions aside. For the time they are practicing with me I ask that they forget there is a world outside of the room we are in and simply be present. If they can let go of the outside world then they can relax more deeply.
Entering a deeper state of relaxation frees the flow of blood and energy within the body and removes blockages. This in turn promotes healing and health, both mental and physical.
While a restorative style yoga class may not be a muscle shredding sweat infused work out, it does provide a great deal of value in rejuvenating tired muscles and ligaments and it quiets the brain. Even if you don’t think it’s for you, I encourage you to try a class.