Restorative Yoga: Healing the Body and Mind and Spirit
by Elizabeth Morris


Tense? Stressed? Super-stressed? Burning out? Burnt out? Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? There are very few people who can honestly say that none of these descriptions apply to them. Restorative Yoga is finding its way into many Yoga classes in response to the needs of our stressful time. We live stressed lives and our body systems were not designed to live in that state permanently.


However what is also true is that our minds were not designed to live like this either. The over-work that has become the norm, the multiple deadlines we juggle and the challenge to try to ‘have it all’ as fast as possible means that not only our bodies suffer from the overload of stress biochemicals – but also our brains and our minds. Think about it! Isn’t it incredibly hard to think clearly and well when we are stressed? Not only that but it is also incredibly hard to retain a strong sense of Self under these conditions too. We lose the plot, we forget what our focus is, we drift off from ourselves and attend to other people’s priorities because we have no time to reconnect with our own. In the end we find ourselves a bit lost, disconnected from our Spirit and wondering what it is all about. We struggle to find answers because our brains are too foggy with excess cortisol (long term stress hormone). Even our capacity to feel love, joy and pleasure is diminished by the overload of toxic stress induced biochemicals; and love, joy and pleasure are a big part of how we want to experience our Selves.


Restorative Yoga can play a very significant role in helping our bodies and our mind find balance; and with that comes the opportunity to reconnect with our Spirit again and remember who we are, why we are here and which of all these other people around us we really, really want to be with. We become able to tackle the big questions in life again as our bodies heal and strengthen and our minds clear. We can reconnect with what is important to us and start to live our life actively rather than reactively. Out of the passivity of Restorative Yoga comes this active engagement with life and ourselves again – it is a great gift.


Supported Bridge: Pose of the Week


One of the best poses in Restorative Yoga to support the recovery of our minds as well as our bodies is Supported Bridge. It is an inverted pose which means it works to refresh the body as fluids drain away from the legs and also more oxygen is brought to the brain to revive it and give it more fuel to work with. However, as with all the Restorative Poses, it is so gentle and easy that anyone can do this without strain as long as they arrange the props to suit their body length and the relative positions of the neck and spine. For example, if you have a ‘dowagers hump’ extra padding from a folded towel may be needed to support C7 at the base of your neck or to lift your head.


The body and legs are lying face up along pillows/cushions/bolsters/folded blankets which cushion them from the hardness of the floor and allow the body to fully relax into the experience of soft support. The support can be up to 12” high though most people prefer it lower at about 3-4”. It depends on the length of your neck and the comfort you feel as the head and shoulders lie on the ground.


The head and shoulders are resting on the floor, with or without padding depending on the inter-relationship of the head/neck and shoulders.


Hands and arms spread out to the side at shoulder height which opens the chest and heart centre. Your knees can be bent and feet on the pillow if that feels better for your lower back.


You can close your eyes and gently place an eye pillow or scarf over them to rest even more deeply and turn your gaze downwards as your attention focuses inwards.


Rest in this posture for as long as you like but it is better to be more than 5 minutes. It is lovely to do at the end of a busy day at work for 15 minutes. No need to do anything else – just this posture – and let go.


The excess adrenaline can start to be balanced out in the body, the pulse can steady and blood pressure lower as the peace of this posture soaks into you. As you lie and your mind slows from its chattering and chasing you can begin to come back to your Self again and drift gently in the physical and emotional support from the pillows.


As the time in the posture draws to an end you come out of it by bending your knees, if you have them straight, and slowly rolling over to the right side into a foetal positon (or what I call Blissful Baby!) and giving yourself another minute of calm breathing before lifting yourself upright and allowing your body to readjust to having your head higher than your heart again. You will be refreshed, in tune with yourself and more at ease as you end. Namaste.


About the Author


Author Elizabeth Morris RYT Advanced Yoga Trainer and founder of The Phoenix Health and Wellness Studios.


Elizabeth is a trained Classical Hatha Yoga teacher and experienced Integrative Psychotherapist with specialities in Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga. She is passionate about the use of Restorative Yoga for recovering full health again after anything major and traumatic in a person’s life. An experienced trainer, working internationally, Elizabeth combines her knowledge of the mind and its psychology with the power of Yoga philosophy and practice to develop a deeply healing form of Yoga. Restorative Yoga provides the perfect balance for our over-stressed lives as well as being a tool to make the mind-body-spirit connections that are so essential to our health and happiness. Currently she is writing a book on Recovering from Burnout through Restorative Yoga and running workshops internationally on the topic.


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