My journey to Restorative Yoga

I’ve been doing Yoga for almost 15 years now, starting out with very basic Hatha Yoga, moving into the more challenging Bikram Yoga, which kept me passionate for a few years…For the past 5 years I have mostly done Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga…it seems like the more demanding styles of yoga has always attracted me. Particularly Ashtanga and Bikram yoga, as these styles gives me a frame for my practice, I know exactly the postures and the sequences, it is always the same and I know I have done something complete when the practice ends. It is also very rewarding as you clearly see your developments and progress from class to class. But after many years of on and off practice, I started to question my craving for the demanding yoga styles. I started to question my wish to constantly improve and compare my practice with my previous sessions, and especially the sense of failure if I did not have a good day at the mat…

After my second baby was born, I went through some very challenging time and I had a long way back, where I constantly tried to perform as I had always done. I tried to go back to my Ashtanga class, but it felt like I was constantly thrown off the mat, my body hurt, my mind was somewhere else and my focus was just on what is wrong?

I tried to go running instead, but after 10 minutes I hit the wall….and I tried hard, as I thought that physical activity will get me back on track, but then a wise person “lighted some lights” for me and explained the necessity of letting go…and to do things differently.  I finally realized that I could not force myself, I could not perform as I used to….I had to do something completely different – and I did!

I took another look at the yoga studio’s weekly schedule and started to look for the classes I never had cared about before; yin yoga, restorative yoga, meditation…and it surprised me; I actually saw more of these type of classes than the more demanding once – what had happened? I even checked the schedules for other yoga studios, and saw a remarkable increase for restorative yoga…

I went to some yoga workshops and listened to other participants and what I heard surprised me, many of them had after many years moved from the more demanding styles of yoga to calmer styles, and it had not been an easy journey, but a necessary one. Many of us had constantly tried to get back on the Bikram or Ashtanga mat, but were constantly “stopped” for various reasons…I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with more demanding yoga styles, I’m just reflecting over the trend that there seems to have been a shift in the yoga offers, moving towards a more gentle version, not necessary less demanding, but a more accepting style of yoga…

So what happened for me personally? Well, I stopped all types of demanding physical activities; I took daily long walks and just attended restorative yoga classes regularly – 2 hours of nothing but “active rest”. I actually had to take 2, maybe 3 or 4 steps back before I could actually move forward again…

Today I’m back on track, I’m running, I can do Ashtanga classes every now and then, but I have incorporated regular restorative yoga practice into my life, and I love the 2 hours classes…and I’m convinced that sometimes you have to accept the situation, listen to your body and take a few steps back, before you can go on again…

So what is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative Yoga is about deep and aware relaxation. It is a Yoga of ‘Being’, rather than a Yoga of ‘Doing’. It is a gentle form of yoga which focuses on relaxation of the muscles and the body tissue so that a state of deep relaxation and healing can occur The intention is to release rather than strengthen and there is never any sensations of strain in this type of yoga. The thought behind Restorative yoga is to create possibilities for the body to heal; it is a self healing process. During a Restorative class you will use a lot of props, like pillows, blankets, blocks,eye pillows etc and the idea is to support the body in the posture as much as possible so you can enter a meditative state so that the body can fully relax and thereby heal…

//Maria

(Picture borrowed from Yogayama.se)

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One thought on “My journey to Restorative Yoga

  1. Great story, Maria. It was great to read. I also experienced the burn-out in different stages of my young life and I very much find myself in your story and I believe there is so many people like us out there who still hesitate to give themselves a permission to stop striving being the best, pushing themselves to the unhealthy limits where they find sickness in the way that often lead even to depression and feelings of loneliness as you don’t think people understand you any longer. I now dare to say, that trying too hard often goes against us and on the other hand, being kind, gentle and loving to ourselves in general, in life, not only in our approach towards the yoga is the healthy, happy and much more successful way to go forward. Thank you for sharing this with us…. xx Lucia

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