"True Yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life" - Anon
Hello beautiful goddess
Over the next four weeks, I will be 'demystifying' practices that I believe to be incredibly beneficial for health and wellness, but are perhaps unfamiliar to most of us.
Yoga enjoys quite mainstream appeal in the West by now, through 'hot' studios, Power Yoga and other dynamic styles. However, when I mention that I teach Restorative Yoga, I am met with a quizzical look. When I show images like the one above of me in Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose), people scratch their heads at the use of so many props. This is such a nourishing style, yet perhaps one of the least well known - my educated guess would be because of how seemingly passive it appears.
So let us start with a simple definition from Yoga Journal: Restorative Yoga poses have a particular ability to leave us nurtured and well rested. These postures are usually deeply supported by blankets, blocks, or other props and are held for several minutes at a time.
It never ceases to amaze me how frightened we have become of taking true time out. Of silence. Of rest-ing, instead of do-ing. We beat ourselves up, that we are not doing enough, making enough, pleasing enough. And I get it, I really do. I once needed to always have the TV or music on in the background. Or to talk to fill in the gaps. Or tap my fingers and toes to feel that I was alive.
Sitting in stillness requires us to go inward, towards our truest feelings, hopes and fears. This is not always comfortable terrain to wander through. But unlike Meditation, you do move slowly from posture to posture in Restorative Yoga. Movement also gives your body a chance to shed its restlessness and busy-ness before settling into a place of stillness.
It may feel like you are doing nothing at all. But having been teaching for 8 years now, I can tell you that after every single class, the faces of my students warm my heart. They usually arrived stressed, after a long day at work, behind a desk. Their limbs stiff, their faces scrunched up in discomfort. And by the end of the practice, their expression has softened into one of bliss and their bodies have realigned.
Restorative Yoga is also incredibly healing for those who have any serious joint injuries and have been advised by their doctors to steer clear of any dynamic movement. As the poses are always supported by props, this greatly decreases the risk of any further damage.
Although they look peaceful, Restoratives can be challenging for beginners. Just because the body rests quietly doesn’t mean the mind will settle into stillness too. Be patient, and be prepared for days when every inch of you rebels.
In time and with practice, you will be rewarded with the ability to drop with ease into a place of deep contentment. This is what Yoga is all about, after all: stilling our fidgety bodies and calming our rambling minds so that we may rest quietly in the present moment and see clearly the peace that resides within.
I like to think of our puppy Sakura as one of my greatest teachers. As soon as I get my yoga mat out, she is right there on top of it and me. She loves nothing more than stretching out on her side whilst I go through my restorative practice. The proof is in this photo , where she just refused to get out of the way for it to be taken. She never has any problem with resting after a big run at the park, or beats herself up for taking too many naps. I often say we could learn a lot from the wisdom of animals.
If you are curious to try Restorative Yoga, reach out and connect, beautiful goddess. I am proud to offer private Restorative Yoga classes in the comfort of your own home, or as part of my Women's Circles. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Have you tried this style before? Or perhaps you have another favourite style? Which one and why?
Thank you, as always, for reading your copy of Monday Meditation. It is an honour to be of service.