Not too long ago a picture of a little cat lying on its back was regularly showing up in my Facebook news feed. The text at the top of this image read:
I may look like I’m doing nothing but on a cellular level I’m very busy.
Not only cute and comical, but true. The practice of Restorative Yoga, which can also be described as a practice of active relaxation, is based on an awareness of what happens (on a cellular level) when we allow the body to rest, when we lay on our backs and do nothing – just like the little cat.
I want to specifically address using Restorative Yoga to address injury in the body. If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent hours (days, weeks or even months) of your life trying to “solve” your injuries. Perhaps you too have bounced from practitioner to practitioner trying one approach after another in search of something that will help you find your way to feeling healed. I don’t want to devalue to the wisdom and insight we can gain from practitioners of all different modalities, but I believe that in this outward seeking of healing we may lose sight of our greatest source of healing.
Having an injury can be very stressful. An injury might prevent you from staying active (which helps to combat stress), it might impact your ability to work (creating financial stress), and it might make day-to-day tasks more challenging and more tiring. Seeing someone for your injury can also be a large source of financial stress – especially if things don’t improve with the first practitioner you see. A number of things happen in the body when it is under stress, and one of those things is that the body directs energy away from systems that are not an immediate priority, including digestion, elimination, repair, and reproduction. Simply put, the stress of an injury can prevent our body from repairing that injury.
In contrast, the soothing and quieting poses of Restorative Yoga help our own internal healing processes to work. The body has an incredible ability to heal itself and Restorative Yoga offers us the possibility of connecting to this source of healing. By resting deeply in the poses, we can begin to release ourselves from the destructive and limiting forces of chronic stress.
Restorative Yoga often involves a paradigm shift from “doing, fixing and solving” to “being and allowing,” and if you are habitually an active problem solver, Restorative Yoga can require a leap of faith. I am incredibly grateful that I took this leap because among other things, Restorative Yoga has empowered me to believe deeply in my body’s ability to heal itself and it has taught me to value taking time to rest so that my body is able to direct its energy in this way.
If you would like to explore this approach to healing, I teach Restorative Yoga on Sunday evenings at South Granville YYoga. I would love to see you there.
Photo Credit: Chris Yakimov