Anxiety Hypno-Yoga Mental Health and Wellbeing Mindfulness Stress Therapeutic Yoga Yoga

What is Restorative Yoga?

Written by Nat Young – Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga/Pilates Teacher

There are so many different types of yoga so it’s easy to get confused. Today we’re going to look at restorative yoga which is a calm and tranquil form of yoga aimed at relaxation and supporting the body.

In a restorative yoga class, you’ll hold poses for several minutes at a time, using props such as bolsters, cushions and blankets to support your body. The props are used to bridge the gap between your body and the floor so that you can relax. The goal of restorative yoga isn’t to stretch, it’s to support.

The problem of stress and anxiety

Chronic stress and anxiety keeps us in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). This can contribute towards a myriad of physical and mental health problems. When in fight or flight, the body shuts down systems that are deemed not necessary, such as digestion, growth, repair and reproduction. It’s therefore important that we don’t stay in fight or flight for longer than we have to. While the fight or flight response serves a useful purpose to keep us out of danger, it becomes problematic when we experience stress and anxiety all the time.

The parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest’ system, is the polar opposite and calms us down. The primary nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system is called the vagus nerve (which is actually a set of two nerves, one on the left and one on the right). We can learn to stimulate this nerve through yoga breathing and some of our yoga poses. Of course, we don’t want to be in ‘rest and digest’ all the time either as then we wouldn’t have any motivation to do anything, but being able to tap into it when we want to is hugely beneficial. It’s all about balance and most of us don’t spend enough time in ‘rest and digest’.

The solution: Restorative Yoga

If this sounds like you, you’ll find restorative yoga very helpful. Restorative yoga helps you to learn to be ‘in the moment’, slowing your brain down and helping you to concentrate on the present. It helps you to move away from a state of doing and into a state of being. In class, we practice mindfulness. Letting thoughts come and go, without changing them and without analysis. Can you imagine what it would be like to feel calm and just let thoughts be?

Join me on the mat

To experience restorative yoga for yourself, check out my Restorative Yoga and Hypno Yoga classes in the On Demand Studio. Hypno Yoga also runs weekly on Zoom. Check it out here.


Mindful anger

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

Earlier this week I felt really angry at something at work. I don’t feel angry very often but it was an unmistakable feeling. Physically, my temperature rose, my heart rate increased, my breath became shallow and I felt a bit like a bubbling saucepan. Emotionally, I felt patronised, annoyed and taken for granted.

Just stop

When I noticed how I was feeling, I removed myself from the situation which allowed me to take a moment to employ some mindfulness. I noticed what I was feeling, what was going on around me and I stopped for a moment to decide how to deal with the situation. The act of stopping and being mindful was enough to calm me physically and emotionally, and I decided to listen to some loud music until I felt able to carry on (I chose a song by Rage Against The Machine, which seemed quite appropriate). As the song finished, I realised I felt okay and I carried on with my day.

Mindfulness is great!

Mindfulness is something I teach clients frequently in my hypnotherapy and therapeutic yoga sessions. I even touch upon it in my yoga classes. It’s such a powerful tool and can be utilised in so many different situations. Sometimes the act of stopping, being present in the moment and noticing what’s going on around you is just what you need to take stock and carry on with your day.

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Mindfulness Yoga

A word on personal yoga practice

Written by Nat Young – Yoga Teacher and Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist.

As a yoga teacher in Swindon, I’m always focussing on lesson plans for my Swindon yoga classes. I ask for feedback at the end of my classes and during class I tune in on the body language of my students to see which poses they enjoy and which ones they’re less keen on. This gives me ideas for upcoming lesson plans and also helps me to adapt my teaching style to my students. While I’m lesson planning I also practice my plans to make sure they feel right. I know if a practice feels right because my mind and body will feel balanced and satisfied afterwards.

Lesson planning aside, I’m struggling with my back at the moment. My thoracic spine is less bendy than it should be and I’ve always had a larger lordotic curve in my lower back than most people. This means the muscles from my lower back downwards get really tight. (Yes, even yoga teachers have inflexible bits!) I’m currently seeing a physiotherapist to sort out my spine and I’ve also got some exercises to help at home.

swindon yoga classes

While going through the motions of questioning why my spine has ‘failed me’, I’ve realised that I’ve tended to forego my own personal yoga practice as teaching has become more important to me. This has probably contributed to my current issue because I’ve neglected my own needs. This has to change if I’m to keep my body in tip-top condition for teaching. To help with this I’ve put my physio exercises into a personal yoga practice tailored specifically to the needs of my body. This is good for me physically as it means I’ll be working on my own physical imbalance. It’s also good for me mentally as I’m doing something good for myself.

A personal yoga practice outside of class can be beneficial

Whether you’re a teacher yourself or an experienced student, a home practice can be incredibly beneficial. Bodies become tight, inflexible or weak in different places and no body is exactly the same as another. By ‘tuning in’ on your body during classes you begin to learn which poses your body loves and which stretches feel gorgeous. Some poses might also feel difficult but they feel good afterwards. You know the poses I mean, I’m sure!

A home yoga practice should be tailored to your body’s needs

That gorgeous post-yoga feeling you get when your body has lapped up a yoga practice occurs because the poses you’ve practiced are what your mind and body needs. A personal yoga practice enables you to experience specific poses and explore areas of physical and emotional tension in your own time and at your own pace, something that’s difficult to do in a class environment. Practicing at home can also help your progress in class too.

So while I work through the current issues I have with my back, I’ll be complementing my class teaching with my own daily practice which I’ll change as the needs of my body change. If you haven’t already tried practicing yoga at home, why not give it a try?

Note:If you’re not sure where to begin with a home yoga practice, please consult an experienced yoga teacher.