Yoga has been recognized for centuries throughout much of the world as a path to living a full life of spiritual, mental and physical well-being. While the original concept of yoga encompasses every aspect of life, the Western world has adopted the title primarily for hatha yoga or raja yoga, meaning the physical and meditative aspects of the practice.
Basics of restorative yoga. Restorative yoga generally refers to the types of yoga that are focused on alleviating or reducing the risk of specific physical ailments through gentle exercise and relaxation. In general, the exercises used in restorative yoga are meant to gently stretch and align the body, enabling total relaxation without pain. Props are commonplace, allowing individuals to hold postures (asanas) without tension in the muscles.
Restorative yoga benefits. Restorative yoga is believed to aid in stress reduction, improve circulation and relieve many types of chronic and acute pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, “While you shouldn't expect yoga to cure you or offer 100 percent relief, it can help some health conditions when combined with standard treatment.” Conditions traditionally targeted in restorative yoga include hypertension, diabetes, fatigue, sciatica, pain from slipped or herniated discs, and more. That said, it’s certainly not limited to these types of conditions; more traditional holistic practitioners may suggest yoga as an adjunct therapy for nearly any ailment.
What to expect with restorative yoga. A restorative yoga regimen is best entered into with the consultation of a qualified health practitioner who supports yoga for its preventive and remedial benefits. Depending on your condition, restorative yoga may involve some form of physical therapy for a specific pain or weakness, or it may focus primarily on overall strengthening and relaxation. Your doctor will be able to pinpoint the areas you need to work on and, in conjunction with a qualified yoga instructor, design a restorative yoga routine specific to your needs.