As humans, we have become adept at the art of avoiding our feelings. At any given moment, we have a myriad of tools for numbing and distraction at our immediate disposal. And yet, this avoidance and numbing come at a cost. Emotions are physical experiences within the body that work as a spectrum of feelings. When we do not allow ourselves to FEEL the less desirable emotions of anger, sadness, grief, and worry, not only are we putting off an accumulation of these feelings, but we are dampening our ability to FEEl the other emotions of joy, connection, and contentment.
Restorative Yoga is a profound tool for moving into the experience of honouring and allowing your emotions to move and express themselves. At the first, it may feel like it is doing the opposite of what its title suggests. The concept of rest may feel foreign to you and in this silence, you may experience an overwhelming amount of feelings, thoughts, and sensations bombarding your senses. But this is the gift of Restorative Yoga and one of its express purposes. Restorative Yoga invites us to attend to those pieces of ourselves that we have been neglecting. It asks us to slow down and allow ourselves to notice and feel. The trick is that the very thing that is helping us, is often the thing that causes immense resistance to the practice in the beginning.
The good news is that there are some very tangible, concrete practices that you can try in order to support yourself in getting over this initial ‘Restorative Yoga hurdle’. Here are my top 3 suggestions.
Sign up for a Restorative Yoga series with a qualified teacher. Practicing with others on a consistent basis will help you get the momentum you need to get through the resistance you are feeling and having others to connect with is encouraging because you can see that you are not alone in your experience.
Make a commitment to practice with a Yoga Therapist for a month of one-to-one sessions. A Yoga Therapist can support you by creating a practice that is tailored to your specific experience and will help you to establish a routine practice at home. In the one-to-one setting, you can discuss your feelings and benefit from the wisdom of a senior teacher who has been where you are.
Sign up for a Restorative Yoga workshop or retreat. There are options usually from 3 hours to a whole day, 3 days, or even a week. If you are feeling really invested, you may even wish to consider a Restorative Yoga Teacher Training. (We offer a 50-hour in-person training immersion this July 4th to the 8th in Calgary, AB.) Restorative Yoga Training gives you the opportunity to experience the poses, but also teaches you how to use props, incorporate trauma-informed meditation and breathwork, and how to share this practice with others in yoga and more clinical settings.
What is encouraging, is that once we have moved past the resistance hurdle and have allowed those challenging sensations to express and move, there is an incredible spaciousness available to us. Our nervous systems feel more regulated and you may find that your ability to cope, your resilience, is stronger. You may find too, that you more able to access beautiful emotions of joy and contentment and that your appreciation for life will improve.