My friends Jill and Drayton planned to take me out tonight to celebrate my birthday. We didn’t make it. They had a family emergency, and we have postponed the dinner party. Instead, I went to “restorative yoga.” I am so glad I did.
In case you don’t know, restorative yoga is a yoga class where you do just a few poses or “asanas” during the course of an hour or more. You never break a sweat, but sometimes the sound of snoring breaks the long silences. Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t. And then it is. After a while, adjusting to the quietness of these long poses becomes the most relaxing, healing activity imaginable. Better than massage or martini, every ligament, muscle, organ, and tendon are gently de-stressed. As a result, your stress levels decrease overall. There’s no better place to be on at 5:30 on a Friday evening after a busy week .
I go to the BKS Iyengar studio in Dallas where Marj, a remarkable teacher with flowing gray hair, who, by day, works at Neiman Marcus corporate and, by night, teaches the Iyengar method.
Marj is alternatively compassionate and precise about what we may or may not do in class when twitches, discomfort, or other distractions nudge us to give up before Marj says so. Marj’s class is always full, but I’m amazed that half of Dallas isn’t there. Whenever I take this class, I find I have twice as much energy throughout the entire weekend.
Tonight, I was especially restless, for some unknown reason. I hadn’t been to restorative in a month or more and couldn’t get comfortable doing any posture for the first 1/3 of class. I have learned to breathe through discomfort, ask Marge to look and see if I’m in the right spot for everything, and be patient. I eventually quieted down and let the process work its magic.
As my mind became quiet and my body gently settled down, things began to really happen in unexpected ways as I faded in and out of conscious awareness. Besides the positive changes in my body, solutions to three major problems I have been trying to solve emerged. For weeks, I had been hounded by these issues and unable to find any suitable answers. Then voila, I unexpectedly went to yoga. Instead of a Mai Tai at Trader Vic’s, Marj’s restorative yoga provided the elixir for my answers. Frankly, the solutions were so close to me the whole time, I could have kissed them. But the fact remains, until yoga tonight, I just didn’t put it all together. It was odd, too, They didn’t come at me as abrupt ah-ha’s. These solutions wafted over my calm mind in the same ho-hum way the gentle breeze from the overhead fan caressed my body. It was easy, effortless, and absolutely delightful to know the answers.
When our minds are filled with so much activity, we often cannot see through the clutter. That’s exactly what was going on with me. There is just so much packed into a day, so much information, so many balls to balance in the air, 90 minutes of quiet was just what I needed to allow the mental dust to settle into a pattern of information I could understand. Not only did my body restore, so did my overloaded brain. When I gave myself half a chance, it was right there.
It just makes me wonder how many other “difficult” problems are really a breeze to resolve, if we can just be quiet enough to let it in. Let it in. One of the greatest revelations for me in the last decade is that my early-life perceptions that all good things in life were “hard,” just isn’t true. Let it in. Let it in is my favorite current mantra.
For anyone who leads or anyone who wants to lead a better life, yoga is an ideal practice for physical, mental, spiritual fitness. Check it out, and tell me what you notice about how yoga impacts you.