by Sally Brooks
How is a Restorative Yin class different from other classes that you teach?
The entire Restorative Yin practice is supported by candle light, a musical "sound bath" of nourishing yoga vibrations, aromatherapy oils, and long, juicy assists from the teacher--it is a truly magical sensory experience of warmth and healing.
Restorative Yin is entirely made up of poses done close to the ground, like seated forward folds, hip openers, supine twists, and supported backbends. There is no flow, vinyasa, or standing postures. All poses are held for 3-5 minutes per side and are taught with a variety of props to support the weight of the body. Release, recovery, relaxation, surrender, and greater flexibility are the goals.
In what way would this class be beneficial for athletes or "hard core" fitness enthusiasts like daily Crossfitters or triathletes?
Restorative Yin Yoga is a great choice for recovery days. It offers an ideal technique for improving flexibility in tight muscles, which translates into greater overall mobility and range of motion. Long holds allow the student time to really focus on deep breathing, which is essential for any athlete who wants to maximize performance and efficiency.
What role does Restorative Yoga play in a rigorous fitness regimen?
Restorative Yin Yoga is a unique balance of "doing" and "un-doing". The practice gets its name because it provides the balancing counterpart to our typically "yang" way of life. We can become so focused on strengthening, gaining, achieving, and striving (Yang) that we tend to undervalue rest, recovery, flexibility, and acceptance of where we are in the moment. (Yin) Too much "doing" and constantly pushing the body to extremes can cause stress and puts the athlete at risk of injury. Additionally, students who love vigorous exercise regimens sometimes have trouble slowing down, quieting their minds, sitting still, or committing themselves to a stretching routine.
For highly active, success-driven people the quietness and stillness of Yin yoga can be challenging, and therefore serves as an incredible opportunity to boost their mental game.
What can a student expect to experience at a Restorative Yin class?
Students gather a variety of props as they enter the studio--blocks, straps, bolsters, and blankets. The teacher offers a series of deep stretch, long hold postures (think Pigeon or Frog pose) and gives instruction on creative ways to use the props to support the body. Each pose is held for 3-5 minutes per side, and the teacher provides deep breathing and mindfulness strategies to help the student settle into the intensity of the pose. Minute by minute the weight of the body releases onto the props or the ground, and deep stillness settles over the room. Busy minds begin to grow quiet, gripping in the muscle bodies releases, and the nervous system shifts out of Fight or Flight mode and into Relaxation mode. This shift in the nervous system allows the Digestive and Immune systems to turn on, and our body's natural healing ability awakens.