The Pauses In Between – Restorative Yoga
For a long time I’ve been interested in the pauses in life where you drop into the subtle and soft spaces in between. Those precious moments when everything is simply still, the space between, the PAUSE. I have been interested because I too frequently miss them, ignore their whisper and yet I know at a cellular level they are calling me, that they offer up a richness that is immensely potent, revealing and deeply healing. The PAUSE calls me home.
While trying to nurture an organic garden to feed myself and my partner, make my modest yoga studio flourish, and create transformational retreat experiences, there comes a time in every week where my bolster, I swear this is true, calls out softly time to PAUSE, rest and renew; time to lie, be soft and surrender to the spaces in between. As one of those creative people who loves trying new things, think making your own soap, cooking from scratch, and so on, I have found that I constantly I push myself out of sheer excitement to just keep going even though inside my darling cells are saying slow down, be fallow and PAUSE.
When I can’t take time out to go on week long retreat somewhere in the mountains or perhaps on a secluded tropical beach away from everything, I go to my bolster and take time, make space for myself to just PAUSE in my day, in my week. It has to be said going on a yoga and meditation retreat is where I discovered how freaking tired, exhausted and broken I was, and after a week of simply resting, fresh air, a daily discipline of gentle stretching, meditation, massage and someone else organising everything I was truly reborn a new woman, a phoenix goddess rising from the ashes of her own making, her own fire. That retreat marked shift in consciousness about how to live my life – it dawned on me that just like in my garden fallow time makes and creates space for new opportunities simply from doing nothing.
WHAT IS RESTORATIVE YOGA?
Restorative yoga is the perfect antidote to a hurried and weary world because taking time out everyday to PAUSE, rest, relax, reset and renew is essential to living well, to harmonious living. And everyone can do it! It is not active, sweaty, strenuous, no, it is the complete opposite, restorative yoga is quiet, soft, gentle, internal, deeply nourishing, deeply relaxing and in my opinion an absolute necessity.
Restorative yoga looks and feels we are doing nothing which in itself is a like being a fallow bed in garden, yet what is actually happening in the poses is a deep unwinding of physical, emotional and mental stress as our wired nervous systems untangle quieten down and reset. When you deeply support the body with as many props as you have available and hold each pose for at least 15 minutes, the whole body sighs in delight sinking into the props and letting go. Try it and see!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
There are measurable benefits, for example, relaxing deeply lowers blood pressure, assists with insomnia, supports recovery from adrenal and general fatigue; improves immune function, digestion and fertility. These alone, surely, are enough reasons to add a restorative PAUSE session to your weekly yoga routine, and all I am talking about here is 30minutes once or twice a week (even one 10 minute pose every few days) not a whole 90 minute class. A restorative session will make an enormous difference to how you feel. Skipping along to a longer restorative class or intensive would be a beautiful way to top up your relaxation practice.
HOW DO I PRACTICE?
Restorative Yoga is the practice of holding specific yoga asana (postures) for an extended period of time with the use of props like bolsters, blankets (lots), the wall, blocks and straps to support, cushion, and cradle the body in a nest of comfort and ease. Turn the lights down low, wrap up and stay warm perhaps deepen the relaxation experience by playing soft soothing soundscapes and watch and feel the energy and the mood drop down. PAUSE.
HOW DOES IT FEEL?
Well that is a good question and it all depends on the individual, the sequence, the day,the week and even the regularity of your practice. Often at the beginning the body may fidget or find it difficult to get comfortable – use as many props as you have too – but perhaps the real challenge will be your mind. It will wander, get agitated or even panic at the extended periods of stillness without stimulation. When we PAUSE all sorts of things may come up, you may feel really emotional, goodness you may fall asleep. Over time and with practice, the ability to rest in the space between wakefulness and sleep develops. Before you know it you have learnt to effortlessly switch on your inbuilt relaxation response – the pathway to healing.
Feel held, supported, cradled, loved, floating, nourished and nurtured. PAUSE.
Feel the weight of anxiety, stress and muscular tension slip away. PAUSE
Naturally, each experience of the practice will vary. The beauty of Restorative Yoga is the way it teaches you to simply get out of your own way, to simply give yourself permission to allow any response to unfold and most importantly to let the natural innate intelligence of the body to take over and bring about healing at a very deep level.
Photo Credit: Restorative Yoga at Yoga East Margot Porter