Whoa partner! Remember my post Yoga: Extreme Sport? Here’s a follow up by Caitlin, our resident Yin/Restorative Yoga Master. Put the brakes on your yoga practice this year – your body and mind will thank you. Caitlin teaches both on all our retreats. (Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of flowy vinyasa too.)
Every January seems to be the same. It’s the month everyone starts (or renews) their yoga practice, makes new goals to practice more, and commits to doing yoga to “get in shape”. I’m sure you’ve seen the influx of people at the gym, and the mats an inch apart at hot power yoga. Everyone shows up to get in shape, detox from holiday indulgences and “start over” on January 1st. This year is no different, all the classes are packed…but for the first year ever (in my 10 years as a yoga teacher), MY classes are packed.
I’ve adopted Yin, Restorative and “cozy” yoga as my niche over the last several years. I’ve moved away from teaching vigorous vinyasa and hot yoga to hone my skills in teaching how the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called the “rest and digest system”) reacts to yoga. In the age of Instagram yogis and studios popping up on every corner, yoga started to feel competitive, not inclusive, and made me feel worse rather than better. My anxiety was high, my body was strong but not soft, and I was running myself into the ground.
When I started practicing Yin yoga, I hated it. It was too slow, I didn’t sweat enough and I felt like I didn’t “accomplish” anything. Then I kept going back. Then I got certified to teach. When I first started teaching Yin and Restorative yoga, most of my students were new to yoga, older, or recovering from an injury. I found it so rewarding to help these people rest, relax and make their bodies feel good. I started bringing Yin & Restorative to more places, teaching workshops and trainings, and now it’s what I teach almost exclusively.
I’ve been trying to teach that a balance of stillness and rest in our fast-paced and busy lives is essential to our well-being. Still, I’ve heard more times that I can count that people don’t want to do “rest” yoga because they feel that they’re not working hard enough. I used to say that too.
This January, my Yin & Restorative classes have been sold out every week. When I ask people what brought them to class, they say they just need to rest, they’re anxious and need to learn how to breathe, or they just want to be guided for an hour. I’m beginning to think that people are starting to take “self care” more seriously, are taking better care of themselves, and are realizing that a little stillness is necessary to balance a life of moving and working and “doing”.
I invite you to try a Yin or Restorative yoga class in 2020. Give yourself permission to rest, to let your body be still, and let it be ok to not “work” for a small period of time. Notice how your body softens, your mind calms down, and how you really do restore your body to a more peaceful state. I’d love to hear about your experience. xoxo