You cannot separate the body, mind and soul, it’s a dance. The way we do asana, is the way we do life. It can be ½ way, resenting it, loving it, using it as an escape, and so on. Your practice is neutral, but it’s a mirror of who you are.
Restorative Yoga uses props, your body is a prop for the soul. Whatever container you bring to the mat can be filled, everything is there depending on your own experience. Who are you bringing to the mat today, what do you need, and what will you give? Where are you allowing your attention to go right now? Being present is essential, otherwise it’s just an exercise. One single breath in gratitude can change that.
What Restorative Yoga is Not:
Not stretching – it’s about opening, do less of a pose, more opening
Not the same as Yin Yoga – active asana, as opposed to hold and still, stretching
Not striving – I know you can do more, not sure you can do less
No ambition – opposite of relaxing, don’t need to do more go further and expand
No need to go anywhere else, do anything else, or be different than you are .
What we seek is already here, the pose is right here
Restorative Yoga can be therapeutic, but therapeutic yoga is not restorative
To be relaxed we need to be still, quiet, dark and warm. Restorative Yoga takes you toward sleep. To be still where you are, your body sleeps and your mind watches. You relax enough, without falling asleep. Our bodies are used to moving around, therefore stillness is a radical thing. Hence the time spent in finding that comfortable shape. Quietness, no music. Darkness, even if you close your eyes , light filters in . Darkness is good for the organs below the diaphragm, irregular periods, liver and digestion. Finally warmth, swaddling with blankets around hands, feet, belly back, anyware!
Most of our nervous systems are hyper stimulated, lack of sleep, improper diet, and stress have created our new “contagious diseases”.
“Intention” is what makes Restorative Yoga different. Your body sleeps while your mind watches as you sense your way through your practice, without thought. Like walking through a dark room filled with furniture. The use of props is to support your body in positions of comfort and ease, to facilitate the relaxation response, which is where healing begins.
Doing Restorative Yoga 20 min/day releases tension which represents the past, and lets you gently sink into the present, without judgement, ambition or needing to do anything. In your practice, you are really with yourself, for yourself, just simply being.
Restorative poses work with the rhythm of the body. They are powerful for removing blockages, to allow your body to heal, post cancer, lymph drainage for example with poses like legs up the wall. Back bending is healthy in opening the front body for digestion, posture and breathing. Semi inversions like legs up the wall are effective for relief of jet lag, restless leg syndrome, and jobs where you stand a lot. Gentle forward folds are great to initiate the relaxation response. Drop your chin in prayer. It facilitates relaxation. The state of yoga is Heart up Brain down. You will begin to notice changes in your breathing and a more relaxed state, as you drift toward the present moment.
When there are fewer choices, we have more time. We confuse busyness for meaning. We need to not only relax our body, we need to relax our life. In Restorative Yoga combined with Yoga Nidra deep relaxation practices, we gently manipulate the nervous system by putting it into a place of comfort and begin the healing process.
May we live like a lotus at home in the muddy water.
Brenna Jacobson (C- IAYT)