The practice of Restorative Yoga and its power to restore you

I found my way to Restorative Yoga several months into my battle with chronic fatigue. Up till then, I loved power yoga and had a type-A grip on my daily practice.  As my illness progressed, I began to recognize that my practice was depleting me rather than supporting me. At the time I held the notion that Yoga had to be taxing to truly constitute a practice.  Rest at the end, work-it the rest of the time.

In order to shift to a truly Restorative Practice the first thing I had to do was broaden my definition of Yoga.  Not the easiest of shifts for me. But one that as I transitioned through it began to inform my current beliefs around Yoga, its practice, and its teaching.

Interweaving a Restorative Pose into your daily life is a powerful form of self-care. Although the object is always a supported rest the poses can require as little as a blanket to as many as twenty props per student. Like other forms of Yoga there is a vast array of postures that may be practiced.  The trick is having enough props and enough help to ensure each student’s comfort.  The more elaborate the pose the more time required by the teacher to assist the student. This is a labor intensive style of teaching and one where the devil rests squarely in the details.

Recently I was honored to teach a segment on Restorative Yoga for the University of Maryland Medical Center’s 500-hr Teacher Training (TTY). I focused my portion of the TTY on postures that required a minimum of six props to build. During the training I emphasized the importance of adjusting the student for comfort. After all it is nearly impossible to relax if there is discomfort.

My intention when teaching this segment was to inspire teacher trainees to practice Restorative Yoga and share it with their students. So many of us are chronically over stressed, overtired, overwhelmed, anxiety ridden, struggling with grief, battling depression, or undergoing transformation that the power of resting cannot be casually tossed aside.  I think Restorative Yoga is particularly beneficial to teachers and healers (medical, intuitive, or otherwise), after all you cannot share from an empty cup.

Like other forms of Yoga, Restorative Yoga is being studied, several citations are linked below: