Today I went to Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre and had a lovely time, browsing the street market with a friend. The town was packed with crowds of people meandering round the shops and market stalls, stopping now and again to look and admire, taste and buy and, in the words of the song, it was ‘beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.’
Now we are at the end of November it’s noticeable that the weather has changed-strong winds are blowing, the temperatures are dropping and the days are getting shorter- but in the run up to Christmas the pace of life seems to be picking up and it’s easy to get swept along with it.
So maybe this is a good time to slow down, nurture ourselves and try a more restorative type of yoga.
Taking time to rest and recover from the stresses of a busy life is important for our health and well being. All types of yoga can help us relax, but restorative yoga is particularly effective for releasing tense muscles, calming the nervous system, allowing us to feel safe and nurtured and comforting body and mind.
In this style of yoga, postures are usually held for atleast a few minutes, supported by blocks, blankets, chairs and other props, designed to create ease and to allow us to really let go.
The right support in a pose should make it feel effortless and, according to some people restorative yoga is better than sleep for all sorts of reasons such as releasing tension, relieving aching joints and reducing stress and anxiety.
It’s all about ‘being’ not ‘doing’.
Postures could include lying on the mat supported by blankets and blocks, souls of the feet together, releasing knees to the side, breathing calmly-or simply resting the lower legs on a chair, covered in a blanket for warmth, with an eye pillow to block out any light.
Recovery is an important part of yoga generally; for example at the end of most yoga classes-whatever the style of yoga- people spend a little time lying on their mats in savasana (corpe pose) relaxing body and mind. However restorative yoga can certainly lead to an even more healing and recuperative experience.
So at this time of year when tempers get frayed and things start to get a little frantic it could be worth slowing your yoga practice down and trying it out. And -better still -you might also consider adding to your Christmas list an eye pillow and a yoga bolster!
(I am running another session of Restorative Yoga at Rushmere St Andrew Village Hall on the afternoon of Saturday December 5th. Please contact me for further details or to book.)