Yoga and The Business of Real Life
Strong enough to hold the space for letting go
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST BARBARA DENOWH
I find restorative yoga to be the most challenging. Not that other asanas aren’t challenging. They are challenging in a completely different way.
When I first came to yoga it was to find and create strength. Each asana I practiced was with the intention to become stronger. I loved how quickly yoga physically manifested that strength.
Savasana was excruciating. And, then enter restorative yoga…kill me.
It was so torturous. What strength am I gaining by laying here and doing nothing?
Teach toward the strength to tolerate stillness
It was during my yoga teacher training that I first experienced the beauty of restorative yoga. After a month of constant asana and alignment, a month of never letting go of the mind, after a month of extreme physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, I finally collapsed into the stillness of restorative yoga.
It has taken me three years of teaching to finally teach restorative yoga. I had witnessed students have my same struggles with savasana. Fidgeting. Looking at the clock. Looking at other students. Not to mention what it was bringing up within them.
I felt like I was torturing them. That the longer I had them in savasana, the more they would hate me and yoga.
So, I taught a strong flow class. Lots of chatturangas. Lots of strengthening poses. (We teach what we know, right?) All with the idea that my students would collapse exhausted into savasana.
Sync up with yourself
I don’t think I was totally off track. I was leading them toward stillness the only way I knew how. The way that worked for me.
Now I teach at least one restorative pose in addition to savasana. I still struggle when I see students fidgeting. Have they been there too long? Do they hate me? Does it not feel good? Does something hurt here?
Yet, I have found that the restorative classes are some of the most rewarding. Because there comes a time when a student experiences a moment of stillness. Maybe a minute. Maybe just a breath.
And you can see the beauty of it on their face.
The restorative posture, moment by moment
As I enter the third month of having my little yoga studio, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned in restorative yoga.
Be still. Let go. Feel it out. Pay attention. Be aware. Soak it up.
Don’t worry about what is next.
Barbara Denowh is a yoga teacher in Helena, Montana. You can find her in cyberspace on Facebook or at her website denowhyoga.com. She also rambles about yoga, teaching, her wonderful husband, and her hound at babsbabble.com
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.