Restorative Yoga for Self-Regulation

Our lifestyles and subsequent stress levels differ in so many ways. Whether it is work responsibilities, caring roles, financial pressure, genetics or the daily responsibilities life throws our way, what makes one person feel stressed might not affect another. But how do we know when it’s time to self-regulate our own nervous system?

Positive Psychology states that “Nervous system regulation is a cascade of physiological responses our nervous system makes to reduce heightened states of arousal and increase states of calmness during times of distress”.

They go on to explain that “In a dysregulated state, our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are imbalanced. We feel we are at our limit, and it affects our ability to problem-solve, make rational decisions, and engage positively with others”.

Symptoms can be physical or emotional and include chronic pain, migraines, difficulty concentrating, agitation, moodiness, insomnia, sweating, nausea, indigestion, anxiety, and a racing heart (Elbers & Batista, 2018).

We met with Adelene Cheong to chat about the power of Restorative yoga and the impact this practice can have on self-regulation of the nervous system.

Adelene believes that “Anyone that has a nervous system would benefit from Restorative yoga. It is a practice that restores balance in the nervous system, it is learning how to recognise when the nervous system is out of sync or stuck on sympathetic dominance. It helps us learn to self-regulate”.

Adelene thinks this should be a subject in school so every person can self-regulate during chronic stress and daily low-grade stress. How brilliant would this be if it was added to the curriculum?

Adelene’s journey with Restorative Yoga spans twenty years and she describes Restorative Yoga for her as a practice that protects, supports and heals her sanity. For many years when her body was under stress and she didn’t realise and Restorative Yoga allowed her to become aware of stress in the nervous system and gave her body time and space to self-regulate.

What happens physiologically when your nervous system is dysregulated?

The autonomic nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic (also known as the "rest and digest" state), and when you're nervous system is dysregulated, it becomes out of balance. “The sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for managing stressful incidents and emergencies, becomes overly dominant,” Dr. Ho explains. So your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you calm down, relax, and rest, is "unable to exert any significant control over how you are feeling, thinking, or behaving,” Dr. Ho says. In other words, the "fight or flight" response becomes overly active, putting your body in a very stressful, high-alert state. (Well & Good 2022)

Take a Restorative Yoga Class

When the treadmill of life starts to move too fast our self-care routine can fade away. So whether you practise Restorative Yoga or not why not schedule time in your calendar just for you. Gather blanket, pillows, bolsters and cushions and create a haven for some self-regulation.

If you are interested in exploring teaching Restorative yoga or enhancing your personal Restorative practice we join Adelene Cheong for Relax and Restore: An Online Restorative Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training which starts on 1st February.

Adelene Cheong discusses what Restorative Yoga is