Restorative yoga is a practice devoted to relaxation, disengagement, replenishment, and contentment. In my many years of attending Iyengar yoga classes it has always been the last class in a month of weekly classes that was devoted to restoration, a tradition I carry in my own ongoing weekly classes. Restorative class, by far the most popular, is a class that focuses on being mindful of letting go. In restorative yoga, getting comfortable is imperative,
so that we can mindfully disengage our thoughts and their associated tension in our physical body. Restorative poses are positions that we can readily relax into; positions that naturally enable us to breathe deeply and with less demand on the heart. This will be different for every one depending on our current energy level, in the spectrum of fully charged to complete depletion. Restoration is to be considered, be it the end of a class, end of a day, a week, a month, a season, or year. Powerful is the knowledge to know and be in balance.
As a society and culture we as individuals are always scheming to do more with little regard of the consequences. Very often the best approach is to surrender after taking appropriate action and let your goals and ambitions come to us. I often hear comments for the need to keep fit and in shape. The goal is always how can I lift more, run further, do more to achieve, with little regard for the time between our exertions that if utilized efficiently may also help us on our path to achieve our goals. I believe if we strive to achieve a relaxed state of being as much or more than our striving to be better and stronger that we would achieve our goals in stride with fewer set backs. We can all agree that there is a time when one more rep. one more set, will net us a diminishing return, if not set us back incrementally as in enduring an injury. In this case rest and recovery are imposed on us; rather than a point of intelligent reflection where we can set a course that takes into account all aspects of ourselves, including our ambitions and goals.
In the Iyengar method a type of hatha yoga I have been drawn to since 1990 and a recent graduate of a 700hr, 2 year, Iyengar yoga course, directed by Patricia Walden, has served me in a checks and balance for all I set out to be and do. Be it some vigorous ambitious undertaking or the need to regroup and contemplate what is behind my desires. In a restorative class we often take reclined asana’s (positions) to begin the relaxation process. We position ourselves rather comfortably; in positions that open our chest/heart center allowing for uninhibited breathing and also position ourselves so that the heart action is eased. Simply taking these two measures for an hour the body is refreshed and the mind calmed. It is not only in this state that recovery can occur peacefully, but also in this state of being that we can thrive and excel.