Restorative yoga seems to be a theme in my reality lately and perhaps it is because Summer brings a flurry of activity beyond the usual gym workouts and yoga sessions. Maybe it's because we in the heat of Summer temperatures and the body needs something cooling. Or because there is an increase in running as people train and run in marathons, ultra marathons, and triathlons; cycling miles to be had as people participate in 20, 40, 60 and 100 mile organized rides on top of the daily and weekly riding; there is swimming, canoeing and kayaking; and not to forget walking, hiking, and backpacking.
And we wonder where our summer goes…
So it was on Monday night I found myself leading (by request and subsequently promised) a restorative Vinyasa session. Seems contradictory, yes? The principles behind this are based on a Chandra sequence as designed by Matthew Sweeney, a Yin session by Paul Grilley, and a Long-Slow-Deep session by Bryan Kest. The idea is simply: slow. down. mindfully.
I used Matthew Sweeneys principles as a base and to provide the flow. Students are instructed to work at no more than 80%. If one is working at 100%, how can that be restorative? I started the postures with left foot first to balance the tendency to always lead with the right. Think about this: Ashtanga – opens to the right, right foot is always first. Twist to the right then the left. Right right right… Matthew says to bring back balance by changing things up and moving from the left first. I think this helps to slow down the practice because it takes mindfulness to do something opposite from what you are used to (just try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand one night…).
I then incorporated Paul Grilley’s principles and Bryan Kest's ideas of holding the poses for longer. Not a hurried huff! huff! huff! Of five breaths then bam! Onto the other side, but a long, luxurious, deep breath. As one of my respected instructors, Joe, likes to say, “Find savasana in every pose.”
I was concerned that people would become fidgety, or that I would not have enough material to last an hour and a half, but much to my surprise, I had plenty of material and people seemed to just ooze into deep relaxation.
Would I do this again? Definitely. I think the exposure to a restorative vinyasa class is good on so many levels. I don't think it's something I would do monthly, but perhaps quarterly. I look forward to exploring this further, with perhaps the addition of some pranyama and meditation. Stay tuned!
Top photo: TourdeFrance.com
Bottom photo: YogaJournal.com