Yoga: A work out? Or a chance to work in?
Not everyone wants to head to their local yoga studio, clad in leggings, and ready for a fiery and challenging yoga practice.
The truth is, that we tend to think of yoga (in the Western world) as just another way to work out. However, I believe that the truth of yoga has gotten lost in Western translation. Rather than offering us a ‘work out’ I believe that yoga invites us to ‘work in.’
The ancient practice of yoga is actually about unifying the mind, body, and soul as one; and cultivating a connection to our higher selves and Universal (or Source) energy. This truth has sadly been fiercely appropriated through corportized yoga in the West, along with mainstream brands, and other factors that link Yoga to Consumerism and materialism.
Because we have this view of yoga in the Western world, often, many of the slower, more healing styles of Yoga get lost or are viewed as less important. The truth is that there are benefits within each style of Yoga and that each style can bring us closer to ourselves and the Universal Love surrounding us.
Today I’d like to share two of my favorite styles of yoga that emphasize rest, slowness, and ease; therefore expanding your vocabulary and understanding of True Yoga and guiding you towards new ways this sacred practice can support you and your unique needs.
Let’s talk about Restorative Yoga first, or as I like to affectionately call it- Yoga Nap. This style is probably my absolute favorite to teach and to take as it is truly so healing and nourishing on every level.
Restorative yoga is unique in that it aims to guide the body (and mind) into easeful postures that allow for natural relaxation and release to occur. In a typical restorative yoga class you will use many props such as blankets, pillows, blocks, sand bags, and even eye covers.
These are all used to deepen the level of support in your physical body, as well as to bring more comfort into your overall experience.
In a restorative yoga class, the focus is on moving slowly, and resting deeply. Poses are typically held for 5-10 minutes (sometimes even longer), providing plenty of time to truly drop into the feeling of release, and relief.
By the end of your restorative yoga practice, you will hopefully feel well rested, and free of physical pain. This style of yoga will also dramatically help to calm your monkey mind and release stress and worries. It is great for anyone recovering from injuries, those who experience chronic pain, and those working on their mental health. It can also help to improve sleep patterns, nervous system regulation, and overall health.
Another one of my favorite styles of Yoga is Yin. Yin yoga is unique in that it is the meeting point between deep rest and energetic activation. In a Yin yoga class, each pose is held for at least 3 minutes and up to 10. While yin classes also use props for additional support and comfort, the emphasis lies in helping us to stretch more deeply, rather than simply relaxing and releasing- like in Restorative. Because of this, Yin yoga can actually be somewhat challenging. The challenge is in being able to rest in stillness while engaging in a deep, long held stretch. Many sensations may arise, and the work is all about breathing with what we experience, while still allowing ourselves to go deeper into the process of opening. Yin is powerfully beneficial because it focuses on stretching into the deep fascia, or connective tissue, of our muscles. When we focus on stretching into these places, we are increasing blood flow, releasing muscle tension, and retraining our bodies to move with less pain. Yin is incredibly beneficial for those with chronic pain or ailments and in my experience as a Yin instructor, I have witnessed many people find greater quality of life by reducing their pain and healing the pain-stress (cortisol) cycle through a regular yin yoga practice.
These are just two of the styles of yoga that can be practiced for greater mental health and physical support. I encourage you to broaden your view and understanding of yoga by engaging in some of these healing practices. If you are a Vibes Tribe member, head to our ‘meditation content’ page and check out the Courses listed there- in them you will find many practices of both Yin and Restorative to support you on your healing and self love journey.
There is a yoga style out here for everyone, so be courageously curious as you explore and deepen your relationship to this sacred art!