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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A time-out is good. Sometimes it results in feeling energized. Other times you feel peaceful and restored.
- 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?