All about Restorative Exercise
When I talk about Restorative Exercise, people often think of restorative yoga, or of something involving incense and chanting. Those practices are great, but they’re not Restorative Exercise.
First, a brief history.
Restorative Exercise (RE) is a practice created by the biomechanist Katy Bowman, who has since written lots of books and founded the Nutritious Movement Center, where she continues to evolve her philosophy and practice. (The RE training program is closed, but you can find a local teacher here.) Through her study of biomechanics, Katy discovered that people can often heal their body problems and perform better (read: move more), using corrective exercises that improve alignment.
OK, but what does that mean?
Restorative Exercise works to restore your body to the state that’s normal for a human, as opposed to the state that most of us are currently in: Chair-shaped, with weak posterior muscles and over worked front-of-the-body muscles, heads that jut out in front of our chests, and generally poor awareness or understanding of healthy body alignment or what kind of movements are necessary for human bodies.
Some of our common body ailments have their roots in dysfunction caused by a sedentary lifestyle. For that reason, Restorative Exercise is a two-pronged approach. First, we use corrective exercises to get you moving better. Second, we help you learn to move more. Sometimes this requires re-education about what movement is (all exercise is movement, but not all movement is exercise) and isn’t. Sometimes we have to shed cultural beliefs about what kind of movement is most valuable.
The end goal is a healthier body and better quality of life for the long haul.
Read here about why I felt so drawn to Restorative Movement. I came to RE after a few decades of beating up my body with high-intensity exercise. I still like exercise (especially running), but now I have better biomechanics for high-intensity work, and I know how to support my body using a variety of movements instead of doing the same workout 5x a week.
Me & the brilliant Katy Bowman
You know, just hanging out like pals.
What’s a typical RE session or class like?
In RE, we care a lot about knowing the purpose of each corrective exercise and on doing the exercises mindfully, as in, do you know which parts of your body are working? Do you know which parts are supposed to be working? We typically talk about the goal of our activity and do a lot of low-intensity movement. You would be surprised how much work a Restorative Exercise class can be!
Try it out!