Restorative Yoga: A Practice To Restore Your Inner Light

restorative yoga
Restorative Yoga Pose

At 28, I came to learn the blessing of stillness. In my case, I had to hit an emotional, spiritual and physical bottom in order to slow down. I got there because I was out of alignment with my purpose. But what really matters, is that burning out guided me to the spacious, otherworldly practice of restorative yoga, where I finally found peace. With every deeper breath and my commitment to my inner awareness, I realised that rest restored my light and allowed me to shine even brighter. This is when my life changed.


What Is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is a practice that nurtures stillness and introspection. I think this is why I love it so much as an introvert because it aligns with my natural energy. Deep sigh. While it may not look like you’re doing much, there’s so much magic happening below the surface. Using yoga props like bolsters, blocks and blankets, our intention is to fully support the body in different poses so that we can relax, self-soothe and nourish our nervous system, imprinting a gentler, softer way of being in the world.

At its simplest, restorative yoga is about relearning the habit of relaxation and restoring the natural processes of the body. Through rest, we start to shift our attention from doing to being. Most of us prioritise movement over stillness, but as beautiful as it is to create, we need daily downtime and to flow between creation and rest. This can be in the way that we manage and protect our energy, but also through relaxation which is pivotal for helping us handle stress with grace.

Rest is when our body naturally heals itself - from the inside out. Whether it's through sleep or retreating from the world (pratyahara), we're able to reconnect with our innate capacity for healing. It's our birthright to heal and repair, and our body is always trying to return us to homeostasis, back to balance, home to ourselves.

But without rest, we not only feel sick, we also feel blocked. Our aura is weakened, which diminishes our presence and power.

Through my personal practice, I've found that restorative yoga offers a sacred space for us to restore our light within.


Benefits of Restorative Yoga

The benefits of restorative yoga are mainly physiological, helping to restore the natural functions of the body, but this influences how we feel emotionally, spiritually and physically, too.

Restorative yoga:

  • Balances the sympathetic (fight/flight/freeze/fawn) and parasympathetic (rest/digest) response.
  • Boosts nervous system resilience.
  • Improves immune function due to rewiring the stress response.
  • Regulates the amygdala firing, reduces cortisol and adrenaline production by the adrenals.
  • Triggers the release of endorphins creating a feeling of wellbeing.
  • Reduces muscle tension and increases circulation.
  • Eases high blood pressure, indigestion, insomnia, anxiety, and more.
  • Enhances the healing capacity of the body and mind.
  • Balances emotions and helps us self-soothe.

But besides wellbeing, some of my favourite benefits of restorative yoga are spiritual. As a yoga teacher, I've seen so many students come to the mat (myself included) because they're seeking connection to their inner knowing and clarity on their purpose in life.

I like to describe the practice as "otherworldly" because that's the feeling I experience when I tune out the noise of the world and sink deeply into my inner sanctuary. It's the feeling of pure bliss or joy (samadhi).

And when we calm our mind and body in this way, we can truly connect with our spirit. Restorative yoga creates the space in our busy lives to get quiet and listen. I believe that the more we cultivate the relaxation response, the more we can hear. And once we establish a spiritual connection, our job is to follow the guidance we receive. That's when life begins to flow and we find ourselves fulfilling our true purpose.


When To Do Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga offers a beautiful support system any time you need extra nourishment. If you feel rushed, exhausted, burnt out, high stress, chronic pain or low energy, let your practice be a soothing balm for your mind, body and soul.

When done regularly, the effects are cumulative so if you can, make a commitment to yourself each day, even if it's just one pose for three minutes. Your practice will expand into every area of your life.

Throughout the day, you might find me in this position! Legs Up The Wall is one of my go-to daily poses and leaves me feeling so nice and relaxed from the tips of my toes to the crown of my head.


How To Use Restorative Yoga

As the yoga of the nervous system, restorative yoga is a receptive practice, rather than an active one. With nowhere to go, no one to be and nothing to do, our attention is guided away from the sensory stimulus of the world, and into ourselves.

Restorative yoga poses are held for longer periods, from anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes, to allow us time and space to soften into them. If you're just starting out, you might need to begin with 1 minute holds and slowly increase from there. It can be difficult to relearn the habit of relaxation, since we're always busy in the doing. Give yourself grace if you get frustrated or bored, and adjust as you need to, remembering that frequency is more important than time spent in a pose. Like anything, this will become second nature the more you practise (and then you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!) 

Restorative poses are often similar to traditional yoga poses, consisting of forward folds, heart openers, twists, and prone shapes, which gently stimulate the organs and different parts of the body. Though some poses involve opening or expanding, our intention is not to stretch or actively lengthen the tissues, it's to relax and reprogram the nervous system.

Props support us by filling the space between our bodies and the earth so that we can let go completely. Be resourceful with the props you have. You can use yoga blocks, blankets, bolsters, or belts, or grab whatever you have around the house that is similar in shape. For years, I didn't invest in any props and used a spare yoga mat wrapped in a blanket as a bolster, couch cushions, stacks of books, and a belt from my dressing gown!

All that really matters is that you're cultivating the four key conditions for relaxation:

  1. Quiet
  2. Dark
  3. Safe
  4. Warm

So, I invite you to find a quiet space to settle where you won't be interrupted, play some gentle music if you prefer it to silence, close the curtains, turn down the lights, light your favourite scented soy candle, have your props ready with plenty of blankets, and wear cosy socks and a sweater, as your body temperature will drop as you relax.

The simplicity of the practice is a big part of what inspires the relaxation response. The simpler you can make it, the more restorative it will be. This is why we only practise a few poses at a time. The props also help to create a safe container which tells the nervous system that it's safe to calm down.

We start to breathe a little deeper and surrender to being held. It's so luxurious!

Even though the intention is to keep the mind conscious, don't worry if you often fall asleep in the poses or Savasana. This means you're likely sleep-deprived or exhausted, and you're getting what you need in the moment.

Let your breath be natural.

Then, all you have to do is be still and stay.

At the end, come out of the pose slowly so as not to awaken your sympathetic nervous system.


A Guided Practice To Feel Calm and Connected

If you'd like to take 10 minutes to practise together, this sweet restorative yoga practice will help you shift from the outer chaos of the world to an inner state of calm. When you rest here, it's so much easier to reconnect with the light within you.


Restore Your Light

I used to think that wellbeing was all about good digestion, clear skin or less stress, but then I realised that having radiant health is actually what gives us the energy to fulfil our highest purpose in the world.

Restorative yoga is a portal to peace, crystal clarity, and our inner light.

But in a world that values productivity, it's not always easy to slow down and rest, so whenever you need a reminder, repeat this mantra to yourself:

Resting restores my light so that I can shine even brighter. 

Go Deeper

If you're feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and exhausted because you've been forcing yourself into ways of being that aren't aligned for you, instead of honouring your higher vision, energy and heart, you may want to work with me 1:1 as your soul purpose and spiritual life coach this year (with private calls and deep dives together). Click here for all the details. 

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