The Power of Stillness & Spaciousness …
The Power of Stillness
After carving out a delicious five days of stillness & space with Judith Lasater, what I found arising was a state of Samadhi (bliss). Creating spaciousness in our lives and not just within the body, has a profound effect on so many different levels and layers. Judith spoke about ‘not using yoga to hide from yoga’ … such a deep statement, reaffirming my Akhanda Yoga philosophy that ‘we use the pose to get into the body not using the body to get into the pose’ isn’t this something that we all want in our lives ~ Union, between the mind, body & soul, that inner connection with the Divine … What I thoroughly devoured was the softness that is required to let go, to surrender, as I discovered that needs courage, so how can something so soft be so powerful … It felt like a flowing river running over pebbles.
Rhythm is essential to life, moment by moment. The earth circles the sun in a stately rhythm. The tides rise and fall, the cells of all living beings resonate with the tempo set by nature. The lungs and the heart work rhythmically, the intestines produce peristaltic waves, the brain generates brain waves, all of which are intricately interrelated with one another and with the external environment.
Sthiram Sukham Asanam
“Abide and delight in the steady ease & everlasting Self that is seated within the heart of all beings.”
One of the gifts of yoga and its sister science, Ayurveda, is their ability to engender in us a growing sensitivity to our own prana so that we learn to move through our lives with steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha).
Restorative Yoga is a therapeutic style of yoga which utilises props to make it easier and more comfortable for the body to get into certain poses, restorative yoga is about opening the body as apposed to stretching the body, whereas Yin Yoga is quiet stretching. Surrender into the pose with ease to facilitate health and relaxation. Practicing poses using props provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation. The more your body is supported in the poses the deeper the sense of relaxation. Relaxation is a state in which there is no movement, no effort and the brain is quiet. Typically, Restorative poses are sustained for ten minutes or for as long as you are comfortable.
Why should I practice Restorative Yoga?
In a chronically stressed state, quality of life and perhaps life itself is at risk. The body’s capacity to heal itself can be compromised, inhibiting recovery from injury or illness, or it may create new illness or injury, including high blood pressure, ulcers, back pain, immune dysfunction and depression.
The antidote to stress is relaxation. Restorative yoga focuses on relaxation, renewal, effortlessness and ease. Blankets, bolsters, straps, and other props safely support the body in various postures which allows the body to move towards a state of balance. This practice soothes your nervous system, helps you quiet your mind and invites you to release deeply held tension, restoration is the missing link in our lives.
Restorative poses cultivate the habit of attention. The mind should always focus on the breath. When you notice your mind wandering bring it back to the breath. You can also focus on where and how you hold tension. Then use the breath as a tool to release the tension. Breathe to the area of tension and on the exhale release the gripping. During these periods of deep relaxation you will be healed and nurtured from within.
What is the History of Restorative Yoga?
Judith Lasater says ~
The development of these poses is credited to B.K.S. Iyengar, of Pune, India. Author of the contemporary classic Light on Yoga and numerous other books, Iyengar has been teaching yoga for more than sixty years. Widely recognised as a worldwide authority, he is one of the most creative teachers of yoga today.
Iyengar’s early teaching experience showed him how pain or injury can result from a student straining in a yoga pose. He experimented with “props,” modifying poses until the student could practice without strain. Iyengar also explored how these modified poses could help people recover from illness or injury. It is because of his creativity that the restorative poses in my book (Relax and Renew)-most of which have been developed or directly inspired by him-are such powerful tools to reduce stress and restore health.
When you can experience the deliciousness of a Restorative pose for yourself you will know why I am grateful to both B.K.S. Iyengar and to Judith Lasater for their work in this area. I think we could all benefit from Restorative yoga.