Yoga for stress reduction

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?


Right arm and shoulder release!

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.

Day 10: Tim Ferriss and The 4-Hour Body. I love teaching yoga. YES!

The three things I’m grateful for today (day 10 of 21) are: Tim Ferriss, teaching yoga, and the word YES.

If you don’t know Tim Ferriss, you should. He wrote a groundbreaking book called The 4-Hour Work Week, which was a huge bestseller. He shared how people can get out of the rat race of working long hours for someone else and find a new lifestyle where the work is mostly remote and delegated.

Tim chose to travel, learn tango, compete in martial arts contests, and write a bestseller after setting up a health supplement company that practically ran on autopilot, which allowed him the time and income to do those things.

I haven’t followed his formula, but it inspired me to come up with a business idea that I could do anywhere I have access to a phone for a few hours a day, with fairly low start-up costs. I may do it yet, so it’s a secret!

What I love about Tim is his plain ol’ brashness. He’s incredibly curious and likes to find out for himself. He’s a pioneer, an explorer, an adventurer, a seeker, a finder, and a sharer. He’s got the energy of a barrel of laughing monkeys. What’s not to like?

He blogs about his experiments in lifestyle design, too.

Tim is back with a new book, The 4-Hour Body. I’ve just started reading it, and I can tell you now, I will learn a lot from it. With access to doctors, scientists, elite athletes, and state-of-the-art measuring equipment for his own personal experimentation, Tim has hacked the secrets to losing weight, gaining muscle, sleeping well, increasing testosterone and sperm count, running faster, reversing “permanent” injuries, and having 15-minute orgasms. So the cover says, anyway!

He shows you how to make tiny changes, starting from where you are now, that are the most effective changes. His key question is:

For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?

(No wonder this appeals to me: It’s a Maximizer strategy. See my earlier post about finding your strengths.)

I love key questions and will blog about them in the future.

I peeked ahead to see how to lose 20 lbs in 30 days. His formula is:

  • Avoid “white” carbohydrates (or anything that can be white).
  • Eat the same few meals over and over again.
  • Don’t drink calories.
  • Don’t eat fruit.
  • Take one day off per week and go nuts.

And then he gives the fine points.

(Can’t wait until he hacks enlightenment in his next book, The 4-Hour Brain. You listening, Tim?)

Another thing I’m grateful for is that I finally took yoga teacher training and am teaching yoga. It is so gratifying to help motivated people find their way into yoga. Whether they are beginners who want one-on-one personal attention and instruction as they learn, or just want to unwind from stress and experience some deep relaxation, I’m enjoying teaching.

At present, I have one class on Sunday evenings, a restorative class in Oak Hill, and I have a private student who comes to my home after work one evening each week. (Bonus: My cat Mango curled up on top of her during savasana this week! He knows where the good juicy energy is.)

I’d like to teach more. My rates are very reasonable. Private classes are $25 an hour now, and group classes are $10 for 60 minutes, $15 for 90 minutes. If you want a trial session, call me.

You can read more on my Yoga offerings page on this blog.

I am grateful for the word YES. I’ve been getting some very nice YESes in my life lately. Two offers on my house this week, one of which I am getting ready to say YES to — and some folks who were looking at it last night loved it too. Affirmation!

Oh, and according to Patrice,

No is just another way of saying Yes.

So basically, it’s all Yes!

Now offering private yoga classes

I now offer one-on-one yoga classes. I can teach, coach, and help you develop a yoga practice, meeting at my home or traveling to your home.

I love working with beginning students interesting in discovering their “yoga bodies.” I’m good with alignment, having practiced Iyengar for years and taken my teacher training with an Iyengar-certified teacher. I can teach you the preliminary poses that prepare you for more difficult poses.

If your goal is to get stronger,and/or more flexible, to have more fluid movement, to release stress, to develop a daily home routine, or just have more yoga (in the largest sense of the word, connection between your bodymind and the Universe) in your life, I’m available.

I always work with where you are now and move toward where you want to be, adjusting for any issues that may arise.

I love working with beginning students of all ages, conditions, and sizes. That includes true yoga novices as well as those who have had a few studio yoga classes or who have practiced a bit with videos at home at home who want some one-on-one attention.

Because I’d like to get more experience, my rates are very reasonable — $30 for one hour or $120 per month for weekly one-hour sessions, and we can adjust time to more or less than an hour and more or less than weekly. (Traveling to your home costs more to cover the fuel and time.)

Private sessions through Yoga Yoga are $85 per hour, so this is bargain. See the Contact page of this blog for my email address, or call me if interested.