What is it about “restorative yoga” that gets me so agitated?
I wrote here about my experience with restorative yoga at my Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock. I definitely was not the only person who had a strong reaction (aversion) to the practice and I believe it was because of what we were doing — sitting for many hours every day — that made a restorative yoga practice inappropriate for our situation.
I know that there are many people who love this style of yoga and I also understand how it is very beneficial for some and in certain situations, recovering from an illness for example. Some people think yin yoga is a “restorative” practice but I believe that is a huge misunderstanding. I can easily stay in supta virasana for 15 minutes in a yin class with no agitation whatsoever — my mind is as still as a placid pond. Yin yoga is not restorative yoga, different concepts are involved.
But once you add three blankets, two bolsters, a strap, two blocks, and shoulderstand on a chair, I start grinding my teeth. There is something about fiddling around with all those props that puts me over the edge.
I went to a class this morning that is taught in the style of Rod Stryker. The teacher announced “because of the time change and the full moon” (huh? I don’t even pay attention to the moon phases) “this will be a restorative class.” I almost walked out, but out of respect for the teacher, I did not. I’m not dissing the teacher — she’s an excellent teacher and I’ve known her a long time…it was the yoga. And my reaction to it.
I was on edge throughout the entire class. Nothing restorative about it. Fold the blanket, buckle the strap, adjust the bolster, hang over a chair. Faggedaboutit. Shoulderstand in a chair made me very nauseous and I normally stay in shoulderstand for a minimum of 5 minutes. The only part I liked was savasana because I was done messing around with all those damn props.
I’m a vipassana person who is very accustomed to watching whatever comes up, all physical and emotional sensations. I don’t run from them. So I keenly observed what came up during class: “agitation is like this. examine it. where is it? it’s temporary, let it go, things will always change.” I have to admit that the class was good mind training.
My yoga behind closed doors is like this:
I play some cool music and start moving, flowing, feeling. Maybe I drop into yin asanas, maybe not. For me, there is stillness in motion and I treat the asanas as mere shapes and forms that are constantly changing and evolving.
So I think maybe that because I’m a meditator, because I treat my movement as a meditation, that I’m already there. That I don’t need to force myself to slow down for 90 minutes in a restorative class as some people do because…I’m already there.
My other thought is maybe just like there are certain pranayama techniques that affect each dosha differently (I was told at KYM that I should not do much kapalabhati), maybe restorative yoga affects some people adversely. Why not? Even good medicine can kill you if not taken in the correct way.
Or maybe it’s just because I’m a rebel yoga grrl who doesn’t like being told to fold that, tie the strap here, put that bolster there, now rest — even if it is not appropriate for your physical, mental, and energetic bodies to rest at that particular time. It offends my free spirit and it stifles me.