Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga for Injury Recovery


Perhaps you have never tried yoga and don’t know there are many different types. Restorative yoga, also called yin or gentle yoga, is specifically good for people recovering from injuries. Restorative yoga is all done on the ground, as opposed to other types of yoga which involved standing poses, balancing, and inversions. Restorative yoga is good for any age person and has a strong emphasis on breathing. Restorative yoga works on the connective tissue allowing for a deep release in your fascia. You hold positions for 3-10 minutes and let gravity do the work without flexing your muscles. This is also a great way to reduce stress and tension in the body. This type of yoga uses blankets, pillows, blocks and straps to assist you and make sure you’re as comfortable as possible while you allow gravity to lengthen your muscles. After a few minutes in the pose you will usually feel a second release as your muscles let go and tension melts away. Restorative yoga is becoming very popular and demand for this type of yoga is even reaching college sports teams and young high school students.

So why the deep breathing? Bringing extra oxygen into the body allows oxygen to flow with your red blood cells throughout the body. This improves circulation and promotes healing. Bones are constantly rebuilding themselves in the center. Many people believe their bones are dead inanimate objects, however, the blood carries oxygen to the center of your bones where they are being formed and helps strengthen them. Pretty cool right? Moreover, restorative yoga works on your flexibility to help prevent future injuries as well.

So why restorative yoga and not another style? Well depending on your injury you may be ok practicing Vinyasa but for anyone who has a hip, ankle, leg, or back injury this is a great place to start. It’s gentle, safe, and gets your circulation going which in turn promotes a healthy immune system and endocrine system. What else does it do for you? Well you are doing a lot more than just sitting on the ground. Often times when we are injured, we are unable to be active so energy, or ‘chi’, becomes stuck in the body making us feel lethargic and stiff. Restorative yoga helps to release the energy meridian points located in the body by targeting certain muscle groups, joints, and organs that interact with your nervous system. It gets your spine moving in different directions and lubricates the vertebrae that become painful with prolonged immobility.

Of course, please consult with your physician before trying restorative yoga, as each injury is unique and you want to make sure it is safe for you to begin this practice. I have met many young and old people who have relayed to me how they got into yoga because of an injury and their mobility increased dramatically as well as their overall health and positive wellbeing. Personally, having experience chronic back pain onset by an injury, I know firsthand that back injuries can be prolonged by stress and repressed emotions. What I found out is that my injury had healed a long time before my pain went away but the pain was merely the brain finding an outlet in a ‘weak point’ in the body for repressed emotions. Also it is important to note that now I maintain my recovery with a regular yoga practice. Instead of just doing yoga to heal an injury, you can keep neck and back pain from sitting and standing at bay just by doing these regular stretching and breathing exercises. Preventative health is miraculous. People are taking control of their healing and preventing further injury by creating simple, fun, and social habits like restorative yoga.

Shannon Yrizarry

Shannon Yrizarry is a health and wellness professional who was healed from chronic back pain in 2003 after studying the mind-body connection. She went on to study the physical and mental benefits of yoga and now teaches classes and workshops in Southern California. She has also worked as an organic health consultant and writes about how to eat a clean whole foods diet incorporating gluten-free, raw, and dairy free options.