Although I tend to prefer a more dynamic practice, I have found that restorative yoga is extremely beneficial and important in a balanced practice. In traditional yoga, postures are often approached with a sense of future. For example: my approach when learning or teaching a posture is to eventually get to a deeper expression, gain more balance in the physical body or be capable of a more advanced version. Even in the most basic of postures, such as tadasana or mountain pose, there is always something that can be worked on to achieve more balance, symmetry, strength or understanding. My feet could be more aligned, my shins could hug more symmetrically inward, my low abs strengthened to support my spine, my shoulders could be more open, the list could go on infinitely! All humans are born with natural biological imbalances and have bodies that experience the world in a myriad of different ways, so perfection in asana is always just beyond reach. If yoga was something that could be perfected, then it would not be called a practice!
In restorative yoga, the approach is different. Rather, I am fully and deeply in the present. Once set up in a posture, there is no where to go. There is no sense of “do.” There is nothing left to achieve in the shape other than to be in it. To exist in that moment. To watch my breathe. To allow my body to open to the possibilities of the present tense. To listen. To let go. The idea of working into a more advanced version of a restorative pose is not applicable. The most advanced restorative yogi is the one who can be fully present, relaxed and open to the power of restoration of mind, body and spirit.
I admit, I struggle to incorporate a full restorative practice into my home practice on a regular basis. However, by just practicing a few postures several times a week I have reaped huge benefits. I feel more balanced as I step out of my mat and into the world. My mind is more clear and my body more relaxed. I also admit, taking a full 60-90 minute restorative class can seem overwhelming to even me! I highly recommend trying one, but even one pose can be fantastically liberating. Try a simple legs up the wall or supported supta baddah konasana or even just savanasa for 5-10 minutes several times a week. Notice what changes. Notice what doesn’t. Listen to your body. Don’t judge the results.
Peace, love and Namaste,