Every Wednesday morning I used to attend a level 2-3 Iyengar class with my longtime teacher, Jo, until she retired from instructing Asana some years ago. I was religious about going, thrilled to learn and practice the precision of Iyengar with more challenging postures and alignment. I always left that class feeling like I had moved every bone and muscle in my body. Since it was the only class she taught, Jo saved the last Wednesday of every month for restoratives practice. At first, I would curse myself for forgetting it was restoratives and secretly roll my eyes at the thought of lying around over props for long periods of time and relaxing. Maybe that was because I was 28 and had just given birth to my first child. It was a time in my life where exercise and movement were so important to me that all I could think about were the other things I’d rather be doing with my precious free time. But the truth was that every time I left restoratives class, I felt more alive and grounded in my body than I did after any other type of practice. It was amazing.

As the years passed, when I’d walk into Wednesday morning class and Jo would announce it was restoratives, I’d find myself thinking, “Thank God, this is just what I need.” I grew delighted to be in a space where the intention was to drop deeply into specific places in my body, breathe rhythmically, and release myself from habits and tension. Restoratives became a necessary compliment to my more vigorous Asana practice. I experienced a whole new level of nourishment and focus by learning to stay present with myself for longer stretches of time. Ultimately it created space for me to learn how to meditate, and to remain still long enough to let my body say what it needed to say.

Having just given birth to my second child, I spend more time in restoratives than any other type of practice. As a mother, a partner, and a teacher, the quality of ease I experience there is invaluable for my health and well being. I can re-align my entire body with just a few postures, and re-align my mind and energy with the meditative and breathing aspects of the practice. There are restorative poses for every kind of need. Some are more meditative, and some more invigorating–such as held inversions and back bends. Ultimately, the practice is designed to leave us feeling balanced, relaxed, and at ease.

Over the years, I’ve seen amazing effects come from restorative practices. Students and clients often experience relief from issues such as stress, insomnia, migraines, anxiety, and more. Many people report that the gentleness of this approach has led them to a more subtle understanding of their bodies, and a newfound kindness and compassion for themselves. I have also seen emotional and spiritual healings occur as a result of people taking the time to be with themselves in this way. Restoratives are a great gift to the science of Yoga, and an important tool among the vast offerings of this system. I’m so grateful to practice and teach them to others. Thank you, Jo!

Posted by: Jenny Hayo
Jenny is coming out of Maternity leave to teach a Restorative Immersion June 9 & 10 at 8 Limbs Capitol Hill. Your body and mind will thank you. Jenny will return to teaching drop-in classes in the fall.

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