One of the preconditions of wellbeing is being able to feel at home in your body.
Bodily exercise helps us learn to relax and restore ourselves and, consequently, reach a more balanced life. Restorative movement exercises supported by breathing, presence and perception routines are excellent methods for this process. In this article, I discuss restorative exercise in further detail and explain how it supports recovery and stress management.
Restorative movement is the opposite of dynamic movement
Restorative movement can be used to condition the body for improved recovery. It has healing and stress-preventing effects. The movement deepens relaxation and provides the body with an opportunity for rest and recovery.
In the exercises, the body’s parasympathetic nervous system is activated gently. At the same time, the participants practice the skills to let go, be present in the moment and let the brain recover. They revive the possibly stressed self to feel better.
The techniques remove muscle tension, affect blood pressure, heart rate, the respiratory system, digestion and various hormonal and neural action sequences. In addition, restorative exercise relaxes tension in the back, shoulders and neck, strengthens the knees, improves posture, increases chest mobility and restores balance.
Restorative movements are often supported by equipment, such as exercise bands, bolsters, blankets and blocks. The equipment help the body relax and assume positions. The exercises are suitable to everyone regardless of physical condition or skill level. There are multiple variations of the exercises, and the most suitable one can be chosen for each situation. The supportive equipment can also be replaced with everyday objects found at every home. For example, scarves, rugs and thick books are perfectly suitable.
Aid for recovery and stress management
Stress is not an abstract concept, but a sequence of hormonal and neural reactions subject to certain biological phenomena. The sequence can be altered when one knows what they are doing.
Even though stress is not necessarily a bad thing, it is a fact that no one’s body can handle a constant negative stress cycle. Restorative exercise can help break this cycle and give us the opportunity to actively prevent stress.
On the other hand, restorative exercise helps us maintain our wellbeing regardless of external setbacks, and it is an excellent counterbalance to more dynamic exercise.
Wise, wise body
The human body is exceptionally wise, and recovery and stress can be affected in a bottom-up approach, from body to mind. Therefore, bodily exercise, such as meditation, breathing and movements, are highly efficient stress relievers. When teaching and training the body’s parasympathetic side, the learning chain leads to easier and smoother recovery. In other words, we reach a state where recovery requires less effort and becomes partly automated. When the body is relaxed and recovered, the brain is given the signal “I am relaxed.”
“I notice the benefits of regular restorative exercise through a rather swiftly calming mind. In addition, the exercises have increased my flexibility and mobility. The exercise helps the organ system recover from long periods of sitting and sessions at the computer desk. I am more aware of my breathing; I pay more attention to it and deepen it on purpose. I have also learned to slow the racing mind and calm down to focus on my breathing.” Already after the first exercise, clients often tell me that they feel more serene, tranquil and relieved.