My love of restorative yoga has developed over time. At first, I struggled with slowing down and learning to sit quietly in poses. I grew up as an athlete and dancer, so I was accustomed to moving quickly, experiencing pain, and sweating buckets. I saw these as indicators that I was being challenged. In a way, I was addicted to the suffering. It reminded me that I had accomplished something that day and a few days after… I didn’t get that with restorative yoga. Instead, I felt refreshed… lighter. I was sleeping better and learning to breathe through stressful moments of my day. I began incorporating poses that assisted with health needs and saw improvement. I even found myself noticing and correcting my posture throughout the day, without much mental effort. It’s now become a sort of self-care dance each morning in my home, one I regret to miss.
My practice varies, but most mornings it consists of simple movements guided by the areas of my body I feel need opening and lengthening. I’m no pro, so I tend to stick to basic poses and keep my mind light and clear of too many thoughts. I learned from attending a local studio that taught a set series. Once I became familiar with the set routine of postures, I began practicing at home and rearranging and adding to them as my body needed.
To walk you through it briefly, my practice will typically consist of a light warm up prior to my flow, especially in the colder mornings. I vary between setting a weighted volleyball against a wall for a minute, bouncing on a light trampoline for 3-5 minutes or rolling on a hard foam roller. Once my blood is flowing and my body feels warm, I'll begin with 3 sun salutations and then develop from there. This is where it can get interesting :). I listen to my body and if I am tired I keep it easy and spend most of my time in sitting poses and/or on my bolster doing forward bends and opening poses. If I feel energetic, I might spend more time flowing through standing movements and then incorporate a basic shoulder stand or other type of beginner inversion. I always end my time with a few poses on my bolster, to open up the hips and shoulders. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch for a post on my yoga props–coming soon :).
Each body is unique in its needs, so I won't pretend that this route is the best for every human. I've simply found it to be life-giving and would feel remit for not sharing it with you. If you'd like to give it a go, but need a place to start I'd recommend finding a local studio that offers restorative and Iyengar-style yoga. If you're local to North County San Diego, I'd highly recommend a Yoga80 class with one of the studio owners. Also, for all the ladies out there, here's a beautiful book to start you out. It walks you through specific poses to improve the balance of your cycle and can assist with many health issues. It's fascinating and breaks down the poses with helpful illustrations.
Again, there is not one approach that fits all, but I’ve learned that my body thrives on gentle, intentional and restorative movements. I would encourage you to give this route a try. It may seem daunting and tough at first, but your body will be grateful in the long run. It’s turned into a beautiful journey for me, one I hope you'll join me on.
À votre santé!