“I took my first series of yoga classes while working as an executive secretary in a midtown Manhattan office. This was the early 90s. When we still had old-fashioned tape counters, whose numbers could be set back to a string of zeros by pressing a button. By the end of each yoga class, I felt…
“I took my first series of yoga classes while working as an executive secretary in a midtown Manhattan office. This was the early 90s. When we still had old-fashioned tape counters, whose numbers could be set back to a string of zeros by pressing a button. By the end of each yoga class, I felt my internal tape counter was set back to 0000. My reset included a release of the mental residue left over from the events of my day; a healthy distance from whatever current dramas were unfolding; and the clarity, lightness, and ease that comes from working accumulated tension out of the body. Through focused attention to movement and consciously freeing the breath, I was ready to begin again. With renewed clarity and presence of mind.
Now more than ever, we need the ability to reset our internal tape counters. We live in an ever-accelerating world. It moves infinitely faster and more efficiently than even midtown Manhattan did twenty years ago. The sheer speed and volume of communication, with the infinite array of never- ending and instantaneous content, is mind-boggling. And it isn’t going to slow down or diminish.
As we move through our days interacting with the world through devices, we take our minds and sense perceptions out of the physical world. I believe that the imbalance created by inhabiting an abstracted reality for hours on end takes its toll. It affects how our mind functions, our nervous system, and indeed, all the systems of the body, in ways we might not yet even fully grasp.
Therefore, the importance of resetting ourselves, of taking time to slow down, to come back to our physicality, to release stress on a regular basis, has become even more crucial to maintain a sense of balance and harmony. It is vitally necessary for our well-being. Not only must we prioritize time dedicated to removing ourselves from the world of our screens, we need reliable and effective ways for restoring a sense of physical and energetic integration to our beings.
Yoga practice is, of course, an optimal way to renew ourselves. Yoga class remains (hopefully) one of the last places where we disconnect from our devices for an hour or so. But even more powerfully, in practice we bring the energy of the mind back down into the body, the breath, and the organic, physical reality of our material existence. We reawaken to our primitive, sensual, and instinctual nature.
Restorative yoga refers to poses where the body is supported and made comfortable by the use of props to promote relaxation, calm, and quietness of mind. The goal of restorative practice is not to actively stretch or strengthen, but rather to decrease the effort required. Thus increasing feelings of safety and release in order to elicit the relaxation response in the parasympathetic nervous system. For this reason, the body is completely supported and comfortable and these poses are held for longer durations.
Through unplugging from our outer lives for a little while, Restorative Yoga practice gives us the chance to actually plug into the most empowering and nourishing sources of renewal we have. Our own breath, our own awareness, our own inner being. We emerge recharged, nourished, and bolstered to meet our lives anew.”
Barrie Risman is a Sutton-based yoga teacher and author of the best-selling Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice. Download her free Guide to Home Yoga Practice and learn more about her online classes at barrierisman.com