Last fall I started working with a local yoga practitioner who has introduced me to a new form of yoga. I have had back problems on and off for the last four years and have given up most of my DVD-led home yoga practice because it was painful and I was afraid of re-injuring myself. I needed someone to lead me back into my body in a safe and healthy way.
I found Christie, a young woman here in Vancouver, who is a yoga instructor and has been learning to take clients into something called ‘Restorative Yoga’ poses. I’ve been looking around on the Web for a definition that will explain the concept to you and found this one at the Yoga Journal.
Relaxing into balance
Further to what the article says, Christie explained to me that the idea behind the restorative poses is to support the body into feeling safe enough, and supported enough, that it will completely relax. Complete relaxation allows the body to heal and store itself. I am discovering that even when I think I’m relaxed, there is still a long way to go before my body truly feels safe enough to let go as far as I need to, to restore my equilibrium. The body takes longer to trust that it really is safe, and then to begin to relax, than we usually allow.
I had always thought of having my own yoga instructor/coach as a luxury that I couldn’t afford but I can’t say enough about how much this practice is helping me to reconnect with my body. I have always considered myself a fairly self-aware person, in all aspects of myself except the physical. Being in a physical body on this planet has always been a challenging and uneasy affair for me.
I treat my body with respect. I feed it well. I give it plenty of sleep. I listen to it when it objects to how I’m treating it. But when it comes to movement, I am and always have been pretty uncomfortable. What I have discovered with the yoga is that I don’t really feel safe in my body.
Where is ground-zero?
Having a coach to lead me through the process of gently coaxing my body to let go, is helping me to find ground-zero. From this place of relaxed safety, I can finally hear what my body has to say. From here, I can start my practice.
I am coming to understand that what I had thought was ground-zero was really just a truce. It was where I thought I could meet my body but I instinctively knew that I still wasn’t at ease with my yoga practice as it has been. I just thought that I was going to have to live with that. I hadn’t known anything else in this lifetime.
With Christie’s help, I have let go enough to appreciate that ground-zero is actually in a much deeper place, much deeper than I ever knew. It’s like discovering that what I had thought was the beginning wasn’t really the beginning; it was closer to the middle. What an eye-opener!
It’s early days yet and I am on a journey into my body that may take me the rest of my life. As a person who enjoys the journey, I am happy with this state. At least I’m not feeling stuck any longer. Slowly moving is better than not moving at all. I feel like the clouds have parted and I have glimpsed the sun.
Christie is finishing off some courses at the moment but sometime this year she will probably be running some courses and some classes. I’ll let you know when I hear more. Some of you may be interested in participating.