by Debbie Woods
When was the last time you experienced complete stillness of body and mind? For me it was yesterday after work. Still in my work clothes I rolled out my mat, threw my legs up the wall, rested my head on a blanket, gave myself the "savasana tuck" and voilà, stillness for 15 minutes. This little miracle cure is something I do often. Sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes 30.
I know many people take time after work to transition to home life. Most say they "veg out" in front of the TV, read the paper, or use the time to scroll social media while sprawled on the couch. Others go for a workout or run errands to decompress. When we participate in these activities, our body seems relaxed, but our mind is still going a mile a minute. If our mind is going a mile a minute, is the body truly relaxed?
When I suggest complete relaxation to people, void of external stimulation, they ask me what the difference is because they're "relaxed" while vegging out on the couch and they watch something that's "mindless". The difference is this: in a restorative posture we support the body with props so the muscles are relaxed (think of how you sprawl on the couch, what shape your body takes and the use of muscles to hold you up). When we find the body completely supported and relaxed, the body opens and the mind goes to that quiet space. You are familiar with this place, it's that space where your mind goes right before you fall to sleep. This act of relaxation and stillness of mind helps us be more present.
Remember Etch-A-Sketch? (One of my all time favorite toys as a kid!) You would draw your art and when your masterpiece was complete, you would shake it to get a completely clean slate which allowed you to start again. This is what my little legs up the wall, still mind routine did for me. Giving myself that time of complete stillness does it's etch-a-sketch job and wipes the mind slate clean. Afterwards, do I still have thoughts and emotions? Heck yeah! But thoughts and emotions seem to be put into perspective and my very busy brain seems to have switched to a much more tolerable pace, which in turn creates more space between the thoughts. When we do this, we allow ourselves to be more present. My end result? I was much more present in the dinner conversation with my friend last night. I felt lighter, happier and I think I laughed more (all good things). Not to mention my legs were quite thankful after my usual 8 hours of alternating between sitting and standing in front of a computer.
While practicing a restorative posture at home on a regular basis is great for our bodies and mind, going to a full-blown, traditional restorative practice cannot be beat. You don't have to worry about where the left leg or right arm should be. You don't have to give yourself the savasana tuck. You learn the benefits of the posture: is it helping with digestion and opening the 3rd chakra? You let the teacher do all the work so you can experience complete relaxation and bliss. On top of that, there's always aromatherapy to enhance your experience.
Join me, on Sunday, October 21 from 4:00 - 5:30 for a traditional Restorative Yoga practice, savasana tuck included.
Reserve your space online so I can set up your props before your arrival.