About a month ago I spent a glorious 4 days learning to teach restorative yoga from the master herself, Judith Hanson Lasater. Judith teaches restorative yoga on the basis that we need rest and compassion for ourselves first in order to then go into the world and give to others. We have to have compassion for ourselves by taking time out of our days to slow down, to be still, to be quiet and to be with ourselves. Since probably the age of 16 (when I drank my first sips of coffee while working at the local cafe), I have been a person who thinks I can go, go, go forever with no stopping. If I stop, it's all over and can't get going again, so stopping always seemed like a dangerous proposal to me. Plus, our culture values being busy. We tell each other, "Oh I'm so busy these days" and we say it almost with a sense of pride. As if being busy means we are more valuable and important than if we are resting and still.
Some years down the road, I started to realize that my go, go way of life wasn't sustainable for me and my well-being. Plus, I was irritable and angry a lot of the time which didn't feel very good. Cue YOGA. But not just any yoga, not yoga with 10-15 chaturunga push ups and a 2 minute lie down that barely can be labeled savasana (which, by the way, was my preferred style for a long time and honestly style that works wonders for lots of people). This though, is the yoga of rest, of restoration. A yoga I had almost nearly forgotten about until a friend mentioned that Judith Lasater was coming to Australia and would I be interested in taking her restorative yoga teacher training. (Wake up call?)
Our bodies need rest to take care of all of their crucial biological functions, we need rest to bring us into our parasympathetic nervous system where we can start to heal. Where immune function is boosted, where our heart rate starts to slow, where our digestion and assimilation can happen efficiently, where our blood pressure decreases (and the list goes on). Where we just feel good, calm and happy, more satisfied with life. You know, that dopey smile you get on your face after you get up from savasana after a really good yoga class, yeah that feeling.
After taking this training, I have become re-invigorated to do nothing in a way I never thought possible. I bought myself 2 bolsters, 5 blankets and a case full of eye pillows all to better facilitate my ability to do nothing. But this just isn't any ordinary doing nothing, this is a very well supported, barely any parts of your body touching the earth, nestled into a dream land of comfort where you could stay for days, doing nothing.
My new daily practice consists of some asana (yoga postures), meditation and a minimum of 1 restorative pose for at least 20 minutes. It is beautiful. Yes, of course, I still feel tired and annoyed from time to time. As Judith so kindly reminds us "we're only human after all" and how human of us to have those emotions. I now feel, however, that I have tools to deal with those feelings. I can support myself, I can take care of myself in ways I had all but forgotten were available to me but are absolutely amazing and nourishing to my soul.
The other and possibly more beautiful thing about this practice is the by product of my calmer and peaceful self, is that I am a much better yoga teacher. By taking care of myself via rest, I can then, as Judith says, go out into the world and help others. When I'm well rested and calm, I'm nicer to everyone I come into contact with, from my dog, to the neighborhood barista, to the stranger sitting next to me on the bus. Then via those kind interactions, the barista, my dog and the stranger on the bus all feel a little bit better. Then, maybe, they'll go on to be kind to the next person they come into contact with and so on and so forth. It's like a chain reaction of niceness that started because I decided to rest. You too, can facilitate this kind of chain reaction, a pay it forward of sorts. It's my small way of trying to make the world a better place.
When I was 13 I stopped eating meat and told people it was because I wanted to save the rain forest. While, as you can imagine many people laughed at me. But, it's not like I could go strap myself to a tree in Brazil, so that was my way of doing my part for the bleeding, suffering world that I was just beginning to understand. While I still eat very little meat, but practicing restorative yoga is another way that I can do my part to save the world.
Because of how much I love and believe in this practice, I want to share it with you, and the rest of the world! I'm offering discounted private lessons that include restorative yoga (buy 2 sessions and get 1 free). I'm also running a 6 week workshop on meditation and restoration at Pranamoves starting in November. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in either of these things! I would be honored to share this practice with you.