Restorative Yoga: A Love Story 

Restorative Yoga: A Love Story 

By Sally Shuey

If this were a rom com the meet cute moment would be when Savonn convinced me to try her Candlelight Restorative Yoga class. ‘”I’ll be bored” I said. “I don’t need to go to the studio to lay down, I can do that at home” I said. “I like a lot of movement, the faster the better” I said. (Paraphrasing here because who remembers what they really said years ago? Hats off to memoir writers everywhere.)   

My experience in taking that first class is still with me, or shall I say still with my body. Savonn had us finish with a legs up the wall Savasana that I never wanted to leave. There was no boredom, so that was an unfounded fear. Rather, it was the opposite time seemed to fold in on itself in a way in which it no longer mattered. I was in another state of being.  

It wasn’t until much later that I learned the word for that state liminal and had the opportunity to study the art and science of Restorative Yoga and learn what makes it so effective.  

“Taking time out each day to relax and renew is essential to living well.” 

Judith Hanson Lasater, Teacher and Writer 

When we place our bodies in the postures specific to Restorative Yoga, there’s a host of physiological and psychological changes that begin taking place. It’s the combination of these physical and emotional responses that bring us into the present. This practice is deceptively simple. For example … 

 What restorative Savasana looks like:  

Person is laying down on cushy props. 

What’s actually happening:  

Person is laying down with head supported so the back of the neck is long and chin is slightly dipped, their knees are bent over a bolster exactly at the joint, the backs of their ankles are supported, their arms are held at an 45 degree angle from their body to roll the shoulder joint out and down, their hands are pinky side down with arms in a slight rotation, eyes are covered, body is covered. They are still, quiet, dark and warm. There is no effort. They are being held by the props in a position that induces real rest. 

Why this is important: 

Judith Hanson Lasater, Restorative Yoga pioneer, describes the effects of Savasana in this way. “When the nervous system downshifts you enter into measurable physiologic relaxation. Like when you’re done fidgeting and drop in. Next is Pratyahara, the conscious withdrawal of the senses. You still hear the fire engine going by and it doesn’t bother you. Input from the senses does not disturb us. You have no curiosity. You have no urge to move. You are withdrawn into yourself. Silent. Underneath thought. Internalized. Not asleep.”  

 As a student you don’t have to think about how these poses are engineered, just try and listen to your body, hear what it’s telling you. As teachers, our mission is to carefully observe and guide you into these positions of ease and make space for the resulting magic of rest. 

“Rest is a healing portal into our deeper selves. Rest is care.”  

Tricia Hersey, Founder of The Nap Ministry 

This is why I now find myself teaching Restorative Yoga and loving it. Loving connecting people with that deeply nourishing sense of wellbeing. Loving the vibe in the studio when students fall into a collective liminal state. Living in gratitude for the yoga community that brought me here.  

Join us in this shared experience of real rest. Check out all the Restorative Yoga offerings on the Sellwood Yoga schedule!  

Sally teaches Restorative Yoga on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 pm. True fact: She also began reading Tricia Hersey’s Rest is Resistance while heading out for a timed training walk. ;-D #workinprogress