With all the articles touting the benefits of yoga, seldom do we see the words, “yoga is wonderful for the mind and body but it can hurt sometimes.” Until now. Singer/songwriter, and author Amy Sky found that yoga classes were not working for her until she found “restorative” yoga, sometimes called “gentle” yoga. She reminds us the reason many of us have sought out yoga is to feel calmer, not more anxious and stressed. The following is her story…..
Ok I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people who goes to yoga class and keeps sneaking peeks at the clock to see how many minutes left until shavasana; until I can lie in corpse pose, and just breathe and relax. I saw an ad for a yoga studio recently that said “Man up! Mat Down.” Me, I’m from the “Mat down! Pass out” tribe. It’s not that I don’t enjoy other kinds of yoga but let’s be honest, it hurts! And I know, my fellow yogis and yoginis, that where the pain begins is where yoga starts, but sometimes I just want to release stress and not be in pain while I do it.
I need yoga, though – no question. Though my twin jobs as writer and songwriter might not seem to have occupational hazards, when you spend hours sitting in front of a computer or a piano, you get repetitive stress injuries. My forearms twinge with keyboard-induced carpal tunnel, the foreshortened hamstrings from sitting all day make my lower back ache. All day long, our litany of stressors can keep our sympathetic nervous system on high alert. That is the part of the body that controls our heart, lungs, muscles and digestion. With the elevated levels of stress caused by our over-booked lives, it’s like having our own personal 911 team on call all day long. All our flight-or-fight responses remain at the ready, causing increased heart beat, digestion problems, tensed muscles… it’s exhausting!
Enter restorative yoga. My masseuse has been trying to get me to go for years, but when she told me you hold poses for up to five minutes, I thought she was either nuts or had confused me for yoga diva Jennifer Aniston. Five minutes! I’m happy if I can get through five breaths in downward dog. Anyway, luckily, I decided to finally try a class and I discovered a world of centering, calming and deep but gentle stretching. Allowing the tension to drain away, without pain, cushioned by supportive and ergonomic props allows your mind to calm and focus, like a butterfly resting on a blade of grass.
All we have in life is this moment. But if we can’t turn down the volume we can’t always feel it as it whooshes past us. We need to remember where zero is; calm mind, calm body, calm spirit. If we can fully the feel the beauty of the power of now, then our reward is to carry it with us through the rest of the day, and know how to easily access it whenever it slips away….. Huffington Post 8/11/11