As a newer yoga teacher, I often am critical of the classes I teach.
Did people like it? Was it challenging enough? Will they come back for another class with me? More often than not I find myself battling with the question of whether or not what I did or was enough.
A few weeks ago I taught a class when I wasn’t feeling my best. I had recently found out my grandmother was going on hospice, and I wasn’t feeling very present or “zen”. So, instead of a vigorous and flowing vinyasa class, I taught a slow, restorative class for a group of people who are usually there looking for a good workout. It was a very different class from what this particular group was used to. At the end of the class I was expecting people to look disappointed, but almost all of them came up and thanked me after the practice. One person told me “I feel like I just got a massage, that was incredible!” another told me, “I haven’t been able to relax like that EVER!” What this made me realize is that in our busy, stressful lives, practices like yin, restorative yoga, yoga nidra, etc. are a true gift.
In this day in age, a lot of people feel like they need permission to relax, to rest, and to slow down. Everything is about doing more, being more, better, faster, stronger, on to the next. Restorative yoga practices help give our minds a vacation from this kind of lifestyle. An important benefit of restorative yoga is that it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system, which slows the body down and allows us to rest and be nourished. A lot of us are walking around with the other part of our nervous system activated: the sympathetic system (fight or flight) of often on high alert all day, and some simply do not know how to turn it off themselves.
So, I encourage all the hard core, hot yoga, acro and power yogis to maybe switch up your classes a bit. There’s a time and place for everything, but some restorative yoga time would certainly be a treat for your mind and body, on occasion.
by Lauren Villegas, RYT500, Yogacara Teacher Training Alumni