Advice

6 Lessons I Learned from Restorative Yoga

I’ve dabbled in yoga, here and there, for several years—mostly at home with online videos. After caring for and then losing both of my parents in 2015, I joined a yoga studio in my quest to focus on my own health and well-being. There, I encountered Restorative Yoga. Unlike your typical “flow” classes where you move from pose to pose, Restorative classes are slow. You hold the poses for a long time and use lots of props to support yourself. It’s as much about the mind as the body.

Here are 6 things I learned while practicing Restorative Yoga:

  1. It is hard to be still and to find that comfortable position (like one where your boobs aren’t squished). But once you do, you can really relax.
  1. It’s not about accomplishing the ultimate stretch or performance. It’s about supporting yourself with props so that nothing is strained. At first, I found myself wanting to do the most extreme version of each pose. I had to fight the “If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not getting the benefit” mentality. But everything in life is not about striving for or being the best. It is okay to just be. It is okay to support yourself or ask for support from others.
  1. Every day is different, so your expressions of the same pose are going to be different. Allow yourself to move at a different pace or with more support on days that you need it.
  1. Stillness brings up different feelings. I’ve had the most creative ideas when I’ve been still. I’ve also been bored, distracted, worried and sad. But for a person like me, who would rather be super busy and avoid feeling any kind of pain or unpleasantness, that’s probably a good thing. In the stillness, I could feel ALL the feelings, even the unpleasant ones. I could acknowledge those feelings, let them go then get focused back on my breath.
  1. A time-out is good. Sometimes it results in feeling energized. Other times you feel peaceful and restored.
  1. It’s your practice—not anybody else’s. In Restorative Yoga, you are encouraged to do the expression of each pose in the way that is right for you and your body. As I meditated (in the stillness) on this, I saw the life application of this thought. My life is mine—nobody else’s. And I have to live it in the way that is right for me on any given day. No judging, no comparisons, just what is right for me.

Take the time to be still, quit striving and allowing yourself to feel. Take that time out. You’ll be glad you did.

Have you or would you give Restorative Yoga a try?

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10 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    March 16, 2016 at 11:23 am

    The first time I tried restorative yoga, I thought it would be a waste of time. Not at all! It was one of the most relaxing things ever, and I still enjoy both doing it and teaching it.

    1. Cathy Lawdanski

      Cathy Lawdanski

      March 16, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      I know what you mean. I thought “Is this it?”, but it ended up being exactly what I needed. Thanks for reading and commenting, Amanda!

  2. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    March 16, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I love that you point out that every day your poses make look and feel different. I struggled with this thought for a while. I could easily get into a certain variation of headstand one day, then the next I could even get into ANY variation of headstand. Some days my mermaid is more graceful than others. Restorative yoga is a great way to find what our bodies NEED instead of us pushing our bodies to do what we WANT them to do.

    1. Cathy Lawdanski

      Cathy Lawdanski

      March 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      Megan – I think we are so used to wanting to see “progress” in everything we do that we forget in yoga, that is not really the point. The point, in my view, is to do and adapt to what your body needs that day. Which is a good discipline for Type A people like me who are always wanting to do more, more, more! Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      1. Megan Reddix

        Megan Reddix

        March 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

        Absolutely, Cathy! It’s so difficult to step back in this day of social media and stop comparing ourselves to what everyone else is doing. I’ve stopped pushing for progress and have just let my body tell me “okay, today you can go deeper into this pose” and “woah! take it back a notch today,” and I’ve become totally okay with it! Instead of pushing for progress, I’ve seen a natural growth in my health and by chance on the days where I feel my body needs to be pushed further, I am surprised by the depths it will take me!

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    Ilka

    March 17, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Cathy – I love this post so much! It really is about trying your best every day, no matter how it turns out and it’s okay to just ‘be’. What a simple and healthy thought. It holds so much truth. Sharing!

    1. Cathy Lawdanski

      Cathy Lawdanski

      March 17, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Ilka! There is so much to learn at every yoga practice!

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    Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    March 17, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I have not tried this, but I think I’m going to, and soon. I love the explanation of this type of yoga, there are days when the time flies by and I don’t seem to get much done, this may help me to slow down a bit, and do things with more purpose!

    1. Cathy Lawdanski

      Cathy Lawdanski

      March 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Nikki – if you have never done yoga, this is a good place to start. So good for the mind, spirit and body! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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    Sound Healing

    January 31, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Restorative yoga was the most relaxing thing I’ve ever had in my life!

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