First an orientation to What is Restorative Yoga, from Kirsty Innes~
Restorative Yoga is a very slow-paced style of yoga involving the use of props (sometimes lots of props) to allow the body to feel totally supported so that the physical, mental and visceral bodies can begin to relax and release. Restorative yoga is often prescribed to students who are injured, stressed or ill and who need a very gentle practice to regain their strength.
Yoga teacher, Annette Knopp, gives a great example of how the same pose can be approached differently in the different styles of yoga. “Let’s take the example of a Seated Forward Bend, or Pachimottanasana. In more Yang Yoga styles, you activate your leg muscles, you engage bhandas and the muscles along the spine to lengthen your torso, and then tilt forward from your hip. In the same pose in Restorative Yoga we would place big bolsters and pillows under the torso, so we would lean forward, but resting and supported by the bolsters. In Yin Yoga we also lean over our extended legs, but with the spine round and the muscles of spine, neck and head relaxed. We don’t stretch and engage muscles or energetic locks to get deeper into the pose, nor would we support our torso up like in Restorative Yoga.”
While initially appearing easy, like lying around Restorative Yoga may actually be seen as an advanced form of yoga, more akin to meditation, where we have the time to observe sensations, our breath, our emotions and mind, and where we may welcome all of these experiences. This is not necessarily easy at all. Through this practice, we may come face to face with aspects of ourselves which are not comfortable to be with. In more active Yoga we may be so busy with our we don’t give ourselves the time and space to notice these deeper levels. (ref: Neal Ghoshal)
It is sometimes questioned whether we need as many props as we do in a Restorative Yoga practice. The answer is yes. Whatever posture we practice, whether it’s a forward bend or backward bend, inversion or supine, we set ourselves up so that every joint in our body is supported and we can allow gravity itself to work its magic and release held tension. Every posture should feel sustainable and incredibly comfortable.
New Zealand-based Yoga teacher, Neal Ghoshal, suggests that without the distraction of an uncomfortable body, we have the freedom to soften and release deeply, to ease through layers of tension, into profound relaxation, quietness and stillness. “Why stillness? The simple answer is to quote a much-loved teacher who now resides in the USA – Baba Hari Das:
The more we can anchor into this ground of silence (and Restorative Yoga gives us the tools for this), the more we may respond to whatever happens in our life from our True Nature, which is love, compassion, peace and kindness.”
I offer regular Restorative Yoga Afternoon Retreats and customised Private Sessions. I am also partnering with Tammy Williams from YogaNRG in 2018 to offer Mindfulness-Based Restorative Yoga Teacher Training.
Below Tammy shares the inspiration behind making this training available in this unique format
“This will be a great opportunity to give Teachers the tools and confidence to teach Restorative Yoga, learning how to utilise props for each pose in an effective manner. Teachers will also learn to teach Mindful dialogue, the connection, links and potential insights that can naturally arise when given space, support and surrender.
Mindfulness can sometimes be taught as just being present , or the focus maybe on the Pillars of Mindfulness which although has great value, there is so much more to understanding Mindfulness than just being present and the Pillars of Mindfulness themselves are not mindfulness.
To teach Teachers dialogue that comes from understanding the roots of tension, to learn how to actually see surrender, to see letting go, or the flip sides of seeing clinging even just subtle striving or hanging on in your students and then being able to meet this with certain tools birthed from processing experiences is what helps students have healing experiences.
Understanding why yoga works through mindfulness not only gives us tools as Teachers to help our students , it inspires us to keep practising on and off the Mat.
Learning how to receive support, to be supported can be very foreign or edgy for students because they come up against societal conditioning that doing nothing will not help you be successful, where as this very aspect when understood in terms of subtle and gross anatomy can reveal true integration. Which when understood and practised , when “lived” was I guess you could say the Yogis idea of success. Self realisation can’t happen if we are rejecting aspects of ourselves or others for that matter, this is why this form of yoga although physically one of the most accessible, perhaps the most mentally challenging.
To be able to understand & talk to what comes up, to be able to use yogic teachings as a way to help students navigate through the emotional & physical anatomy of resistance can be a valuable ally not just on the Mat but in life.
What arises in a group setting in teacher training , the insights that come from each person having their own experiences in the practice will be discussed and looked at in conjunction with the Sutras & Subtle Body Anatomy.
With guidance drawn from my clinical role of MBRP together with facilitating what’s arising , helps the student/teacher understand themselves, their experiences and others. Understanding the anatomy of resistance to resting can be quite a profound form of inquiry.
Facilitating this in a way that experiences can be processed , integrated and then shared in a purposeful way is what makes every single Teacher Training a very special and unique experience for everyone.
To unite Restorative Yoga with Mindfulness Based Facilitation will give Teachers not only techniques, methods and practice teaching , it will give them depth and ways to hold space for their students and what comes up in life”
Kirsty has dedicated a lot of time to her own practice and teaching of Restorative Yoga, teaching and training internationally. She has a love for this practice and offering space for healing and letting go . I look forward to joining with Kirsty to deliver something that will be a very unique experience and of great value to Teachers.
Click here for more information on MINDFULNESS BASES RESTORATIVE TEACHER TRAINING
Click here to read the blog: Mindfulness Based Restorative Yoga taught me more about alignment of a different kind -By Tammy Williams
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