Radical rest


Every Thursday from 11:45-1:15pm you will find me at the Rama Lotus Yoga Centre leading my Yin/Restorative yoga class. I love teaching this class and I love the people who come each week. The class is pretty simple: we start off sitting up and we end up lying down. Yoga mats aren’t required and you can leave your socks on if you like. In a yoga culture that seems more and more intent on “finding your edge” ours is a radical practice. I like to tell my students that they are some of the most radical yogis in the building. In fact, I think they are some of the most radical people in the northern hemisphere. In a world of Power Lunches and Power Yoga and even Power Naps, these are people who take 90 minutes in the middle of a weekday to come together and give themselves the gift of rest. Sure, we move through poses, and for students dealing with injuries or health conditions, some of the poses can even be challenging, but overall, what I try to cultivate in my class is a space for rest and healing.

Students who are new to a Yin/Restorative practice are often unsure of what to expect, so here’s what I tell them: I see the yin and restorative styles of yoga as existing on a continuum. Along with the many poses they have in common, there are other similarities: both styles encourage longer-held poses; both involve extensive use of props, such as pillows and blankets; both aim to support the body through the release of stress and tension; and both encourage healing in the body. The difference is in the approach: while a yin practice invites a deep stretch of the connective tissues, a restorative practice invites a sense of being held or cradled in a pose so that the body can relax in total comfort. In my Yin/Restorative class there are opportunities for feeling both stretched and cradled, depending on your preference, and all the poses are gentle and accessible, designed to nourish and heal the body.

I’m shaking my head even as I write this (because, really, the implications are crazy), but here goes: I believe one of the boldest, most counter-cultural, and maverick moves you can make is to lie down in the middle of the day and breathe consciously for 90 minutes. Are you tempted? Come radicalize with me.

Image © 2014 Erin Bidlake

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  1. Riadus

    I took yoga for three years with a woman who lived relatively right down the road and it was fine. It was what it was and it was good for me. Then my grndason was born and my schedule got all wonky and I couldn’t commit to regular classes and I vowed to continue on my own but I have not.Maybe this will be a little shove in that direction. A gentle nudge.Ah-lah.I need it. Thank-you, Yo.

    • Erin

      Hi Riadus,
      I totally understand how wonky schedules can interfere with practice. When my son was born I had to rethink what a practice might look like. Instead of 90-minutes of uninterrupted practice, I started finding just a few minutes here and there throughout my day: down-dog while I waited for the kettle to boil, bridge pose while I played with him on the floor, deep breathing while I pushed the stroller. You have to be creative and determined! Good luck!