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March 14, 2012 / fionarwbl

Double Yoga! My First Restorative Class

This weekend amid all my crazy running around I made time for some forced relaxation. Read: double yoga. Yes, it’s almost as good as double rainbow.

Sidebar: does anyone else get stressed about fitting yoga class in, and is this counter-productive to yoga itself? Yogis answer please!

I went to Pure Yoga and took Slow Flow, and then Restoratives, both with Jessica. Slow Flow is a good, not too tough, ease out the mind and body class. Jessica is a great teacher, with just enough personal interaction and connection in the class, without veering into hippy dippy. She usually sets a theme for the class, whether it is gratitude, or ease, or connection. The class is only an hour long, and here is my yoga confession: I gravitate to shorter classes. I do like yoga, I really do, but I get nervous thinking about doing anything for longer than an hour. Like, what if I accidentally end up in inversion hour, and I have to spend over an hour trying to stand on my head, which is pretty much my greatest yoga fear. Slow Flow is an hour, so it’s a win for me. So is Hot Power. Vinyasa (2) is an hour and fifteen minutes. I hardly ever go. I know. Denying myself amazing yogic experiences.

Sunday’s Slow Flow was less demanding than usual, perhaps due to the smaller class size. The focus was on backbends, which I in general like. Although I cannot do Wheel. There are a long list of yoga poses that are physically beyond me. I also think that everyone has a yoga body cheat thing. Like, a way that your body lets you cheat in certain poses to make them easier. Yes, yes, I know that the pose or asana is not the point, it is your expression of the asana that is the point, but really, have you never thought to yourself, “wow, my warrior looks AWESOME today”? I thought so. Anyway, my yoga cheat is my super long monkey arms. So while my hamstrings are tight as anything and it takes me 20 minutes to warm up to a straight leg downward dog, and my spine is practically fused it is so inflexible, my arms are really long, so I can reach further, like to my toes, or in camel my heels, or binds, and make the pose happen. Even if it’s wrong. Yoga cheat.

After Slow  Flow I made my Restorative Yoga debut. I had only had 6 hours of sleep that night, and 6 the night before, so I was on the verge of falling asleep already. I was kind of hoping to fall asleep in Restorative Yoga, and Jessica did say that that was okay if we did. I didn’t actually. Nearly, but not quite. The room was set up for us with a gazillion props – 2 bolsters, 2 blankets and 2 blocks. All of these would be used to get us to the point of utter relaxation. I picked a spot that I will not pick again – under the air conditioner. I kind of felt a little cold for some of class, which wasn’t as restful as I hoped. You live and learn. In her introductory speech, Jessica said that Restorative Yoga was about providing a deeper sense of relaxation, with the associated stretch being secondary. Some poses would provide more stretch, and some more relaxation.

We started with a support Child’s Pose. Weirdly, the first thing I noticed in this was my random irregular heartbeat. We were supposed to be relaxing, and I could hear my heart beating all kinds of strange, inconsistent ways. Not relaxing! I tried to yoga myself into it, by observing and letting go. Tried. Eventually I calmed down, but I noticed this every time we went into a pose. I guess I have these little adrenaline spikes every time I do something new, Restorative Yoga included.

Each yoga pose was held for between 6 and 10 minutes, and by the end of the first child’s pose I was in a beatific place. I had definitely not noticed that 10 minutes had passed. The dark lighting and the music definitely set the tone as well. The next pose, I think (I wasn’t making notes and it did blur together) was a reclining saddle stretch, which was a supported back bend and hip opener. I love hip openers. The reclining part was a little more challenging. Here’s where restoratives was a little tough. What could start out as mild discomfort could become a nagging hindrance to reaching that state of chilled out blissdom. I noticed a little in my lower back during this pose, but found the hip opening fabulous. Here’s the thing – I should have spoken up and said something. The whole point of the props is to enable you to get to a supported position, rather than enduring. My bad. Typical British reticence.

The next pose was one of my favorites. Legs Up the Wall. Mmmmmm. Yum. This is great for runners for both stretching out the hamstrings and increasing circulation. We used blankets to support our backs. I’m not sure I got my blanket in the right place. Whatever. It was good.

The next pose was something to do with virasana with a back bend. I don’t remember too much about this apart from it felt good on my quads, but towards the end my knees were a little cranky.

Finally, we did a supported forward fold. I never really got my props set up right here to be truly relaxing, but I could feel the benefits in my tight hamstrings. After that, it was a long shavasana, and we were done. I did come out feeling very chill and happy and relaxed, and I think that if I was to take class regularly, I would feel that more so. I’m pretty relaxed by Sundays though, so maybe if I were able to take it on a Thursday or Friday, I would feel even more benefit from it. It’s not going to burn any calories or give you yoga abs or butt, but I would recommend adding it to your yoga class line up every couple of weeks as a recharge.

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