Click this link to go to a page that clearly delineates the various styles of yoga.
Seriously. Click the link.
Click this link to go to a page that clearly delineates the various styles of yoga.
Seriously. Click the link.
I just had a brainstorm. What do these things have in common?
All of them are done either lying down or reclining, and all of them are restful, restorative, self-soothing activities.
Lying down/reclining probably activates our neurology and chemistry to induce relaxation and create a natural high.
I spent some time this past weekend out in nature, lying on my yoga mat with my head propped enough to see and hear my teacher teach, yet able to gaze up into the gorgeous fresh green canopy overhead.
I found it so much more relaxing than sitting.
If you are really in need of shedding some stress, plan on doing some of these things!
Sometimes a reader responds to a blog post that appeared a long while ago. Today I received a comment on Trauma release heavy heart, originally published on October 4, 2010. I wrote that post after discovering that someone had used those words as a search term and landed on my blog.
The beauty of using search engines is that content can be “new to you” years after it was first written.
So for those who subscribe and read posts as I post them, here’s a recap of that post, if you don’t want to click the link above and read the original (I know, I know, it takes time):
I mentioned that heartbreak can feel traumatic, that time and the kindness of others helps, and that meditation can expand your sense of yourself beyond the heaviness of your heart.
I did bring up some positive things about having a heavy heart: it means your heart center is active and alive, which isn’t true of everyone. Some people have very closed-off hearts.
I mentioned doing EFT, using a homeopathic remedy, crying, and being kind to someone who needs it.
Rubyinparadise commented today:
Lovely post. I was just Googling David Berceli’s work and found your blog. I am a restorative yoga teacher, and I am also very interested in the subjects of Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach), vipassana meditation, psoas release, PTSD recovery, inner child healing, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (Marsha Linehan). DBT teaches the skills of emotion regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. It is used for people with PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and those who simply struggle with such skills, perhaps due to early childhood trauma, chemical imbalance, a highly sensitive nature, or all of the above. I keep stumbling across references to EFT as well, but I haven’t explored that as of yet.
I’m responding to her directly, as I do for most comments, but I think it’s good to share that here is someone else who is interested in how to heal trauma and is exploring various techniques.
I myself am not familiar with radical acceptance, inner child healing, or DBT. I’m not sure about psoas technique. I know the psoas is the key “fight or flight” muscle — I know how to palpate it but would love to learn a release technique beyond the TREs.
I would like to note that sometimes I struggle with how much I really want to put my energy into trauma healing — learning about it for my own healing and potentially to work with others. Does it retraumatize me? I’m looking at that. I’d like for it not to. I get tired of trauma, recovery, healing, and so on.
I was told by hand analyst Rich Unger that my hand says that I am a spiritual teacher in this area, working with people who have been traumatized. Sometimes I feel drawn to it, and sometimes not. Sometimes I just want everything to do with trauma to be over and done with. I want to be well — and so I am, most of the time.
Right now, I feel like occasional writing is enough, providing a healing story for others who may be less far along on their healing path. It helps to have models who can let you know that recovery is possible, because if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you.
I’d love to hear others comment with stories on their own trauma recovery and healing.
And… I have just ordered a book of yoga poses for trauma recovery. (I bet they involve the psoas.)
I want to work with my therapist/shaman/friend on how I can learn to not be triggered by other people’s traumas. I don’t even know if that is possible. Maybe we just scream together. But I do believe I can benefit from some changework.
It seems that there were some rapid gains from focusing my attention for the first time on processing and integrating my childhood trauma, but after the first couple of years, or even the first nine months, the breakthroughs haven’t come as quickly or been as painless.
I’m grateful that I have a real life now that includes stability, connection, health, fun, growth, reflection, and being grounded. It’s home base. When I foray from it into trauma (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), I have a sweet, safe place to return to.
Not everyone has that. If I could give anyone just that, I would.
When talking to my former yoga teacher, who not only taught me but trained me to be a yoga teacher, last week, I told her I’d like to get more people attending my restorative yoga classes.
She gave me a tip on marketing: don’t call it Restorative Yoga, call it Yoga for Stress Reduction.
I have a lot to learn.
Yes, restorative yoga is yoga for stress reduction. That is completely the point of doing it.
Yoga in general and especially restorative yoga do something that many of us have a hard time doing for ourselves otherwise: moving out of fight-or-flight mode. We all need activity, rest, and sleep (and sleep doesn’t substitute for rest). In our busy lives, rest is usually the first thing to be discarded, followed by a full night’s sleep. We’re goin’ and blowin’ from the time we get up until we hit the pillow at night, reacting to crises large and small, and maybe, if we’re lucky or plan for it, slowing down a little at lunch or after we get home from work.
Years of this will take a toll. A two-week-per-year vacation is not enough. We need to rest every single day.
The human body has an autonomic (meaning automatic) nervous system with two branches, sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest). Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us, aids in digestion, stimulates sexual arousal, broadens our perspective, and restores energy.
These branches of the nervous system allow us to survive (sympathetic) and thrive (parasympathetic).
The problem is that the sympathetic nervous system is activated a whole lot more now than it was back when the occasional saber-toothed tiger came our way. Survival has gotten complex. Slamming on the brakes in rush-hour traffic, working at and keeping a high-pressure job, and juggling family responsibilities with work can leave us depleted.
Restorative yoga slows you way down. Way down. For 90 minutes. You do very little, except change poses every once in a while. Oh, and chant OM and maybe do some breathing exercises at the start.
It’s a way to commit to getting some rest into your life.
In a restorative class, I bring props like bolsters, blankets, and blocks. Maybe eye pillows, depending on the class size. We set the props up for each pose and then lie on them passively, holding the poses for anywhere from a minute to 15 minutes.
Time and gravity do the work of relaxing the muscles. If you want to quiet your mind as well, bring your attention to the sensations of breathing. Notice the rhythm, evenness, length, temperature, sound, movement, location, and so on.
Even though it is called restorative yoga, no yoga experience is required. The only requirement is the desire to relax deeply.
How long has it been since you relaxed deeply while awake? What do you remember about that state? Could you use more of that?
I’m teaching Yoga for Stress Reduction for Free Day of Yoga on Labor Day, September 5.
The location is Thrive Fitness (formerly NiaSpace), 3212 South Congress, Austin 78704.
Time: 6 to 7:30 pm. Class size is limited to 15, and the doors close at 6 pm sharp (so we can get on with the relaxation!). Bring your mat and water bottle.
If you’ve never experienced restorative yoga and think you might like to try it or if you have experienced it and want to make it a regular part of your life, please join us if you can for a deeply relaxing experience!
Although details are still being worked out, it looks like I will be teaching this class regularly on early Friday weekends, sort of a yoga happy hour/release-the-work-week/relax-for-the-weekend/gather-for-healthy-dinner afterwards type of class.
I’m very pleased and excited about that!!! Thank you, Universe, for coming through, because I’d been hoping for a Friday evening restorative class! Thanks, Donna, Becky, and Todd, for making me feel welcome.
Yesterday I wrote that I was limiting the size of my Sunday night Unwinding class to three students. I realized last night from setting up a different way that there’s room for one more student.
So the new maximum is four. I have a couple of regulars and would love to have a couple more.
I encourage you to visit and find out for yourself if this class meets your needs. If you’d like to check it out, please call or text or email ahead (preferably by Sunday noon at the latest) to make sure there’s space and props for you. I’d love to introduce you to restorative yoga!
If you’re already a regular, please know how much I appreciate knowing when you’re not going to be there. You’ve been great about that!
Starting next week, I’m initiating something new — taking blood pressure and pulse/oxygen readings before and after class.
One student has high blood pressure and insomnia. She says she always sleeps well after taking this class. I’m curious about whether there’s a connection between blood pressure and insomnia. She has a blood pressure measuring device that she’s letting us all use.
I bought a fingertip pulse oximeter, which measures pulse rate and oxygen saturation. We’ll use that as well, before and after class.
I love reading what scientists have learned about the effects of practicing yoga. I’d like to add something to that body of work, even if it’s not a double-blind study with controls. Does everyone’s blood pressure decrease after a restorative class? If so, how much? Does their pulse slow and oxygen saturation increase? How does this tie into stress, sleep, and being centered?
Stay tuned to find out!
I so love starting my day, and especially Sunday, with a long, slow Sun Salutation, resting as long as I need to in each stopping place, repeating movements as needed, really paying attention to my body waking up and energizing.
I build in mini-vinyasas, so from high plank slowly to chaturanga slowly to cobra slowly to tabletop. Then child’s pose, or cat-cow, or swaying hips & shoulders in opposite directions, or circling. Tucking one arm under, shoulder to floor, for a nice twist.
Then dog and its variations. Sometimes adding in a standing pose vinyasa.
Really working the ankles and toes in the lunges, working the fingers in plank.
Delighting in the infinite variations on surya namaskar…
I’m limiting the size of my restorative class to three students. If you’d like to come, please call me at 512-507-4184 and confirm whether there is space for you. I’d like to have one more somewhat regular attendee.
This is an Iyengar-Lasater style restorative class. Someone I talked to yesterday said she had been to a restorative class that was anything but, so I want to clarify what my class is about.
We use lots of props, which I bring. Firm Hugger Mugger bolsters, 3 blankets per student, 3-4 blocks per student, belts, sandbags, eye pillows.
You just bring your mat.
We hold poses from anywhere from 2 minutes to 15 minutes, depending on the pose.
You get relaxed and you get some passive stretches. I don’t use music, so you will have fewer distractions from going deeply internal, to that inner centered stillness that is so renewing, that nothing else can substitute for.
The class is 90 minutes, from 7-8:30 pm, at Oak Hill Healing Arts, 7413 Old Bee Caves Road, Austin.
I’m substituting for Eleanor Harris at her noon class this Thursday, May 3. The class is 60 minutes, $10. Bring a mat. Call for location if interested.
I teach restorative yoga, and a friend and fellow yogi who attended my Free Day of Yoga restorative class last Labor Day, Shelley Seale, invited me to teach a class at her new live/work space — the morning before she moved in.
There were seven of us yogis in this awesome space, getting all chill before the strenuous, stressful work of moving.
I can only imagine what it must be like to move after having a 90-minute restorative yoga session. I want to try it for my next move.
I want to recognize Shelley for having such a creative, collaborative idea, and letting some OMs fill her fabulous new space!
If you want to do something like that, please get in touch!
Another note: My Sunday evening restorative yoga class is settling on just the right time during these lengthening days. We’ll now meet at 7 and end at 8:30.
Because of the especially beautiful spring Sundays, which no one wants to miss out on, and the longer days, I’m pushing the time of my restorative yoga class back.
Starting Sunday, April 3, the class begins at 7:30 pm and ends at 9:00 pm. Read Yoga Offerings on this blog for more information about this class, which I call Unwinding.
Get your Sunday chores done, eat a light dinner, and then come to the class for some deep, deep relaxation.
You’ll sleep better and feel better on Monday morning. Start your week out well.
As I’ve mentioned before, people need activity, sleep, and rest. There are many ways to rest, and it’s as much about allowing your mind to relax as your body. Theta waves are not just a stage you move through quickly as you fall asleep and as you wake up.
Include some restful activity in every day. Daydream. Meditate. Stare at a fire. Slow down and let your mind relax.
I’ve mentioned several times that when I’ve done the trauma releasing exercises, that my left arm and shoulder would tremble, shake, wave, jerk chaotically, releasing deeply held tension that I was previously unaware of.
Today I did the exercises, and finally, my right arm and shoulder began to release.
Also, my neck released more than usual. At one point my head was rolling from side to side.
I had a longer releasing session, 20 minutes, today. Besides the new right arm and neck movements, the usual places released: legs, hip joints, spine, left arm and shoulder.
I noticed afterward that my breathing was deeper and more satisfying.
All this while lying on the floor in my roommates’ living room, while they were listening to this YouTube video of interviews of people all over the world talking about what progress means to them.
I listened to people speaking many languages while I lay on the floor and trembling moved through my body.
Then I did yoga, a couple of long, slow sun salutations, and my body totally loved it after doing the TREs.
And soon I’m off to the Kite Festival, and then to teach my restorative class and wind down my weekend.