Restorative Yoga Changed My Life
There was a time when I struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, and symptoms of PTSD. I was experiencing a lot of physical pain related to stress. While my regular meditation and yoga practice supported me throughout this ordeal, it was restorative yoga and then yoga nidra that helped me begin to heal extensively from my deep-rooted trauma.
What Is Restorative Yoga?
This style of yoga is becoming more popular these days, and it involves the practice of asanas or postures that are held for a longer time than what we're used to in conventional yoga practices. We do this to induce a state of relaxation, release accumulated stress, and prepare the body and mind for pranayama — the yogic practice of focusing on the breath.
I spent two and a half years practicing restorative yoga diligently, and in that time, I learned how to use the sensations in my body as a guide. With practice, this transcended to my daily life as I began to understand how it felt to trigger a relaxation response in my nervous system.
Slowly, I experienced freedom from the habitual stress responses that had accompanied me for so long. The flashbacks, the panic attacks, the nerve pain, and the chronic stress were gone.
But while my body felt balanced and my mind quiet, yoga nidra is what took me to the next level, introducing me to a whole new way of being. Any time I feel I'm getting overly stressed again, this is my medicine.
A Shift in Consciousness: from Restorative Yoga to Yoga Nidra
We tend to think of yoga as movement, but yoga nidra is a guided meditation that brings us into a state similar to hypnosis. It does this by increasing our alpha brain waves, which put us in the state of consciousness achieved when feeling relaxed or meditating.
This practice was especially significant in helping to alleviate the PTSD symptoms I experienced following a personal loss. After two years of practicing restorative yoga, I still get scared easily from any loud sounds — even from expected sounds like when I dropped an object or watched a movie. My nervous system was very sensitive and reacted to the smallest thing.
But yoga nidra shifted these reactions. My body also became more flexible, and I noticed my brain began processing information better — two completely unexpected but very welcome effects of this practice.
Generation Hustle: Why Pursue a Yogic Lifestyle?
There have been times when I felt that studying acting, running a business, and working in the finance industry contradicted my spiritual lifestyle. But then I realized that achieving inner peace in my personal life enlivened my understanding and enjoyment of the other areas of my life.
Furthermore, pursuing my own healing through yoga nidra allowed me to teach this practice in the financial industry and helped me cope with running a business and meeting the myriad of other responsibilities in my life.
Being deeply committed to my spiritual practice and yogic lifestyle while existing in the "real world" has helped me see with complete clarity how stress is the biggest problem in our society and how so many people use alcohol, love, relationships, or other substances and experiences to ease the feelings of anxiety and fear.
Unfortunately, unlike yoga and meditation, these pursuits have only temporary effects and always leave us with a thirst for more.
On the other hand, yoga nidra and restorative yoga invite us to look inward and tap into the wholeness that already exists. We learn that we can always connect to ourselves, our spirituality, and our inner balance.
These practices offer a sustainable alternative for accessing the deep, pleasurable, and profound life experiences we seek while helping us cope with everyday stress and heal from pain and trauma.