We need rest.
All bodies can benefit from learning how to create space for embodied recovery.
Positive aspects of stress serve us when we are in danger or in need of motivation, as the stress response activates in the body and the fight/flight/freeze part of our brain in the amygdala lights up. Stress can be a signal, asking for the body to make a change, whether it’s to self-preserve and protect, focus energy and show up to complete important tasks, or to rest and restore.
Stress in the body contributes to chronic tension, constriction, and disease. As excess cortisol is released in the body, our joyful, feel-good neurotransmitters are halted and the pre-frontal cortex shuts down, inhibiting our ability to emotionally regulate, make logical choices, and effectively digest experience.
It is when we are in survival mode all the time that we begin to lose our compassion, our drive, and our wellness. Chronic stress is a dissociative, immunocomprisising process that can contribute to chronic pain and inflammation, depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Sometimes we must make decisions related to our self-care that aren’t always in sync with the rest of the world or those around us. Using this preventative practice to slow down and calm the body is one of the most valuable decisions that can be made to minimize stress and ultimately, disease.
Our bodies know how to heal, as long as we give the space and conditions for it to do so. When we integrate props (blankets, bolsters, eye pillows, and more), we reach out for support and connection which is invaluable to stress reduction.
Using props is a metaphor for resourcing and reaching out for support from others in order to tap into our healing potential and essential nature of wholeness.
Through this practice of restoration, we may bring ourselves into parasympathetic response: resting, digesting, feeling & healing. A Parasympathetic Nervous System response includes a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, and blood flow directing itself toward mainteneance of the body.
Here are some valuable links to learn more
about restorative yoga practices:
Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation and guided meditation that you practice comfortably lying down on your back with your arms by your sides, your palms facing up and your head on a pillow. Yoga Nidra means conscious and aware sleep and provides myriad benefits for the body, heart, and mind.
Discover the Peaceful Practice of Yoga Nidra: A proven antidote to anxiety, yoga nidra has been adopted by veterans, recovering addicts, and average stressed-out people.
Free Yoga Nidras
Free Yoga Nidra Podcasts
Restorative Yoga Sequences:
Restorative Yoga relieves the effects of stress through supportive relaxation, wherein deeply supportive postures allow the body to “let go” and release what is being held on a somatic level. Restorative Yoga stimulates and relaxes the body to move toward balance. It creates space for stress reduction and muscular release rather than a sensation of stretch.
Restorative Yoga with Bo Forbes
The Eight Essentials of Restorative Yoga
Youtube 50 minute practice
Youtube 60 minute practice
Youtube Restorative Yoga practice using Props
Toning the Vagus Nerve:
The parasympathetic nervous system is innervated by the 10th and largest cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, which helps to regulate breath, heart rate, and digestion but also plays a role in our ability to take in, process and make sense of information. Exciting research focused on toning the vagal nerve reveals to us valuable insights into how to reduce stress and tap into our healing potential as humans. Dancing, singing, yoga, meditation, cold shower/face washing (hydrotherapy), and more all tone the Vagus nerve.
32 Ways to Tone Your Vagus Nerve
Tone Your Vagus Nerve To Hack Your Nervous System
Healing the Connective Tissue Fascial Matrix:
“The work that’s now integrating into the yoga systems and bodywork is really looking at how do we teach people to work with their own connective tissue matrix in a way that’s not just sort of diving in to loosen things up, but in a way that really listens to a very, very visceral and subtle dialogue between the connective tissue and the nervous system and works in a way that the work can be integrated.”
— Bo Forbes
Does Fascia Hold Memories?
Bo Forbes Youtube
Happiness Toolkit: Two-Minute Restorative Poses
Ease Lower Back + Shoulder Tension with Fascial Work
5 Mindfulness Practices to Rewire Your Brain and Improve Health
References & Recommended Readings:
Relax & Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Lasater
Yoga for Emotional Balance by Bo Forbes
Yoga Nidra, Richard Miller www.iRest.us
Article Benefits of Restorative Yoga
More Benefits of Restorative Yoga
Haley Hewitt, RYT, LMFT is in private practice in Lafayette, CA seeing individuals, couples, and families. Her interests lie in merging Yoga therapeutics into the Western Psychological Model.
Learn more at www.lamorindacounseling.com
Yoga Psychology has evolved over the last 5000 years and is now finding its place within the Western Health Model.
How can we use Yoga skills as therapists for our own self-care, as well as with clients in session, while remaining within our scope of practice?
In Patanjali’s 8-limbs of Yoga, we learn different paths toward healing and self-regulation. These include Yamas and Niyamas (moral and ethical guidelines) to help us live authentically, A’sana and Pranayama (physical posture and breathwork practices) to embrace embodied presence, Pratyahara (turning inward with a withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (holding steady concentration), Dyana (deep meditation), and finally Samadhi (the bliss we may tap into upon transcending the “personal” and connecting to something larger than ourselves).
Using these different limbs to conceptualize ways to help ourselves and clients connect more deeply to self and others is one effective lens to view our healing potential. More simply stated, we can diversify our services by continuing to incorporate movement, meditation (mindfulness, yoga nidra), and breath-work into sessions with clients and into our own self-care routines as healers.
After all, the meaning of Yoga translates as a verb: “to connect” or “to unite”, which often is a goal of therapeutic counseling and more broadly, a goal in LIFE.
Haley Hewitt, LMFT, E-RYT 200 is in private practice in Lafayette, CA. Her interests lie in merging Yoga therapeutics into the Western Psychological Model.
Learn more at www.lamorindacounseling.com