One of my favorite yoga teachers, Vickie, is teaching a Fall Restorative Series. It was for three Sundays. One in September, one in October and the third one was today.
After today’s workshop I felt calm and relaxed. I’m ready for this week and the holiday season.
October’s Sunday workshop was called Not for Women Only: A sequence for balancing hormones. Appropriate for all life stages (PMS, peri-menopause, menopause and even if you’re a guy). Only one brave guy attended the workshop with about 30 women.
My friend Monica has been attending the Restorative series with me. I am happy to share this with her as she is a new yogini.
Before the actual (hormone) asana Restorative practice began Vickie gave us a little background on hormones.
If we have unbalanced hormones that means our nervous system is also unbalanced.
Our adrenals feed the fight or flight. The adrenals activate the nervous system, which is programmed to keep us safe. (Think back to the days when cavewomen and men were running from lions.) When we are under acute stress our body protects us (aka adrenaline).
The sympathetic nervous system secretes cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
When we are under emotional, mental and physical stress we rarely can recover and this in turn becomes chronic stress.
Cortisol in the system can be the reason we can’t lose weight or the cause for the spare tire around the tummy.
If your adrenals (adrenal fatigue) are exhausted your hormones, such as cortisol and adrenals, are all out of whack.
A good way to help keep your cortisol levels level is to keep your blood sugar even and level as well.
An NIH-funded study was designed to determine whether obese women would see a loss of fat from less intense exercise than aerobic activity, which is known to increase the heart rate and burn calories and fat.
The doctor who designed the study wanted to know who would benefit more: women who took part in a 48-week program of Restorative Yoga, or those who engaged in a program of stretching exercises.
Their findings showed that the Restorative Yoga practitioners lost significantly more subcutaneous fat over the initial six months of the study period, and kept losing it during a maintenance period with less direct supervision. There was no significant loss of visceral fat in either group.
In our culture we don’t have a way to completely relax. That’s why we have a Restorative Yoga practice.
A Restorative practice is about going into yourself internally. A Restorative practice helps keep you feel nurtured, cared for and calm.
I will share one of the poses we practiced, Instant Maui. Even if you don’t have proper yoga props other things around the house will work, such as, chair, blankets, etc. Instant Maui is a great relaxation pose.
Another favorite teacher of mine, Sarah Jenness, explains the pose in depth: It’s best to set a timer so you can really relax. Hold the pose for 5 minutes or (ideally) longer. Simply lie on the floor with your hips on a folded blanket (about 2-3 inches high) and rest your lower legs on a chair. Cover yourself with a blanket and cover your eyes. This pose is excellent for relieving lower back tension, reducing blood pressure, and has even proven in studies to lower bad cholesterol!
At the end of class Vickie read a great poem called Waiting, by Leza Lowitz. Read that beautiful poem here.
A regular Restorative practice is an important part of living a complete life and maintaining a complete yoga practice. Thanks, Vickie, for being my first Restorative teacher and for bringing me back to this practice with workshops. (And thanks to Megan for being my current [regular] Restorative teacher in public class.)