I just taught a Restorative Yoga Therapy Workshop. It was the first time for most of the participants and I got great feedback. The theme was on easing lower back tension. Who doesn’t have a little of that? Studies show that about 80% of all Americans suffer from it!
We had a fantastic and large group although many of the students (age range 25 -55) who expressed; “ I need that! I am so stressed out! It would probably benefit me” did not end up participating. Cause for reflection.
Why are people going for more of what they have (like overload) instead of inviting balance? Why are we valuing the sweaty and/or strength building practices more than the relaxation based and restorative ones? I have seen some 90 minute flow classes have a 5-minute savasana.
Here are a few things to consider before you think it’s just about lying down on a cushion with the lights off.
You may be under the misconception that restorative Yoga has fewer benefits. In fact, recent science has found that restorative yoga is a positive intervention for overweight adults with metabolic syndrome. Remember that once you decrease stress, your metabolism is enhanced. Add the quieter sides of yoga (breath, meditation, relaxation, inspiration) and the benefits increase!
Is this a practice that is new for you? Sometimes it is a question of what your yoga exposure is. A Restorative Yoga Class is prop intensive and not all studios are equipped. A child’s pose for the student who cannot reach their forehead to the floor or their buttocks to their heels is not going to lead to an experience of release and rest from the pose without right support.
Are you at ease with rest and relaxation? Some students are afraid or uncomfortable with quiet time. The body may really call out for what we in Yapana® Yoga refer to as “being” but the brain is on “busy”. It can be challenging to settle and I think because people feel they “can’t “ slow it down, they avoid situations where they may have to. As with any other practice, this restorative yoga therapy takes cultivation, acceptance, and patience. Enjoying deep relaxation does not mean you are lazy; it just means you are letting your body switch into “rest and digest”.
Are you under the impression restoratives are just for older people? Students do not realize how a restorative practice can be used for active recovery, whether you are an athlete, a weekend warrior, or spend a lot of time on your computer, the body responds to the forces and circumstances you put on it. Restorative yoga therapy practice does not demand the same muscular effort but certainly recruits skill, promotes flexibility in the body and presence in both breath and mind. The long and supported holds in postures allow a settling into gravity, into a progressive encounter with the calm that is buried within.
Restorative Yoga has taught me a vital lesson. This past year has been extremely challenging. The funny thing is that I would attribute better coping skills to the times where I practiced restoratives and allowed my body to receive my practice. I honored myself when I was fidgety, uncomfortable and all of the things that come up in stillness, I made space for. I feel it has given me not only a balanced yoga practice, but also, a world of insight. Sometimes life is frustrating, disappointing, down-right challenging and there is nothing to ‘do’ but sit with it, surrender to the wisdom of the universe, and be able to see that although life isn’t wrapped up in a bright box with a bow on it, it is still a gift.
I invite you to deepen your practice.