Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bonus Yoga: Kripalu Restorative Class

Maybe it's because I only did a 20 minute practice with Kathryn today, or because I didn't teach today, and normally Sunday is my only day off from teaching, but I needed a little bit more yoga tonight. I do have my Reality Yogi type evening practices almost every night, usually some time in pigeon or Legs Up The Wall while I catch up on my reality TV guilty pleasures. Tonight, though, I gave myself a really delicious treat, and actually did a free online Kripalu restorative class. SWOON.

Click this link and at least bookmark it - you'll thank me later. 

I don't want to over-hype it, but really, try to carve out an hour for yourself sometime this week to do this practice. I had the great honor of being trained in restorative yoga (as part of my 200 hour YTT at Kripalu in August, 2010) by Sudha Carolyn Lundeen and then take a 90-minute restorative class with her, complete with every possible, perfect yoga prop courtesy of Kripalu. They quite literally brought in huge, huge carts of blankets for the 57 of us to practice with her. Heaven. Sudha is one of the most brilliant, seamless, calming and patient restorative yoga teachers I've EVER practiced with.

Restorative Yoga

Don't let the need for props scare you. You don't need to go out and buy things labeled "Official Yoga Prop" or have anything special. You can do this practice with two couch throw pillows in replace of a bolster, or even a couple of folded blankets, and other various pillows, blankets and cushions you have around your house. A scented eye bag is LOVELY, but I used a (clean) fuzzy sock tonight because it was nearby. It's worth the time to grab a few blankets and fold them up or figure out ways to re-purpose something you already have. Trust me.

THIS is a true Kripalu yoga class. Kripalu RESTORATIVE yoga, at that. The benefits of restorative yoga are outrageous and man, it feels GOOD.

It sort of reminds me of how I feel about berries - the fact that they are healthy is almost too good to be true, because they are so damn delicious, and anything that delicious can't possible be good for you, too. (I also feel this way about avocados, pomegranates and salmon.) Restorative yoga is as delicious as the richest chocolate cake, with NONE of the guilt. =)

As much as I tried to really experience this practice as a PRACTITIONER, and not a yoga TEACHER, the part of me that is always eager to soak up more techniques from all of the amazing yoga teachers in the universe was still present. And these are the things the yoga TEACHER in me noticed:

  • There was a pretty vigorous joint warm-up. It was very thorough, including the ankles and the wrists, knees, hips, shoulders, neck and the six motions of the spine.
  • Sudha took her time demonstrating the set-up, entry, hold, release, and breath cues for each posture, having clearly asked the class to WATCH the first time through and not try to start setting up (which is the natural impulse) and then went though it a second time with the students actually setting up and taking the posture. 
  • She gave students ample opportunity to adjust to honor their bodies, even long into the holds.
  • The transitions were as mindfully and clearly cued as the postures themselves. 
But the yoga PRACTITIONER in me was just melting. =)

I couldn't believe how much tension and stress I was holding on to that I didn't even know was there. It was intense. It reminded me somewhat of my very first experience with restorative yoga in southern California with a teacher named LB Iddings. Bliss.

So that's TWO bonus yoga practices in nine days, which means that this challenge is REALLY working to give my practice a boost. Wow. In nine days I've practiced eight times!


photo credit: aprilhelen

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