“Life (Ayu) is the combination (samyoga) of body, senses, mind and reincarnating soul. Ayurveda is the most sacred science of life, beneficial to humans both in this world and the world beyond.” -Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, I.42 -34
I was walking home from the Bart train station at 8:40pm, when I thought to myself: How did I do everything I did today, and I still have a 20 minute walk ahead of me? I started my day with my yoga practice, a morning appointment, taught three classes in the afternoon and evening, commuted on two trains, took two uber car rides and one bus. I also made time for breakfast and some small snacks along the way. I find a lot of us live the life of “checking off lists” and existing in “overdrive” or “overload.” So how can we make the time to be present with ourselves and others? How can we allow ourselves to be so “alive” that we seize the juiciness of every moment and live in wholeness with our mind, body, spirit? Doctors say chronic activation of stress response damages our system, causing high blood pressure and flows of stress hormones that continue throughout the day. Hence, why a lot of us don’t feel good, have a hard time sifting through emotions, or can’t find our zest for life. I believe if we help ourselves come into our own unique harmony, we can heal the world one person at a time. So, how can we learn to remove obstacles present in our daily lives, cultivate inner harmony, and harness healing power? One way is Ayurveda!
Ayurveda is the ancient science of self-healing, also known as “the Science of Life”. Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences that came together to bring natural balance to the mind, body and spirit over 5,000+ years ago in India. It is considered one the most remarkable holistic practices in healthcare. Ayurveda allows the knowledge and skill to create a specific dosha balancing yoga practice. It enables us to use food with awareness, and create a basic lifestyle plan.
Through the practice of Ayurveda and yoga we can empower ourselves in self-realization and self-healing by learning how to apply daily care to our own constitution and dosha. In Ayurveda it is believed we are derived from energy, light and matter. These three powers make up the three elements of the dosha’s: Kapha (earth/water), Pitta (fire), Vata (air). We each have unique portions of each dosha within our constitution. It is how we each manifest our prakriti or nature in the living world. Working with our doshas, we help heal and harmonize ourselves. The doshas are also marked as part of our seasons and times of year in Vedic knowledge.
At this time, we are living in the season of Fall which in Ayurveda is also known as Vata season. Vata dosha and season is predominately an energetic, active, creative frame of mind, always on the go energy. When Vata is out of balance we experience anxiety, fear of the future or what’s going to happen and we tend hold our breath. Not letting the Prana (breath/spirit) flow easily we jeopardize our life force. I believe because we all live in such a fast paced culture, we all experience Vata disorder, even year round. Because it is Fall, and most of us are experiencing fast movement and anxious minds with the election and holiday’s arriving, I want to offer you some Vata calming support. Creating grounded spaciousness allows us to breathe and touch our own inner self. With a few easy to do Restorative yoga poses you can rest the anxious Vata and feel lighter, more stable and peaceful. These two simple versions of Savasana definitely help me in my journey to stabilize my Vata dosha.
“Yoga and knowledge are the two methods for dissolving the disturbances of the mind. Yoga is control of the movements of the mind. Knowledge is clear observation of the them.” -Laghu Yoga Vasishta V.9.72
Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. She is a compassionate teacher that invites all her students to live their truth and celebrate who they are as they are. She is a passionate Reiki Master/Teacher. Genevieve teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is InLightandSoul.com.
by Inbal Meron
Our modern lives can be pretty hectic. I enjoy the intensity and energy of my life, which is why I’m drawn to big cities and buzzing atmospheres. I have many hobbies and am involved with some awesome communities. I prefer to be challenged by work and have an abundance of social interactions. Sound familiar? Many of us lead very busy and full lives, which is why it is so important to create balance through a restorative yoga practice.
I find that my practice of yoga sometimes mirrors the fast pace of life; I like classes that are dynamic and that make me move and sweat. However, nothing feels as good as Savasana: Corpse pose. Savasana is considered to be one of the most, if not the most important pose in our practice. When we have enough time to be in the pose, we have the opportunity to enter the state of Yoga Nidra or Yogic sleep, the conscious awareness in the deep sleep state, or a state of relaxation much deeper and more profound than traditional sleep.
I like to think of Restorative Yoga as a practice of different variations of Savasana. The poses are completely supported with props so that we don’t have to strain to be in or stay in them, allowing us to drop into a deep Yogic sleep. When we take an active asana practice, we intentionally put our bodies into intense situations in order to find release. In the practice of restorative yoga we do the opposite; we fully support the body and try to be as passive as possible in order to release. In other words, two different methods of getting to the same goal – entering into a space in which we can let go of all the layers of who we aren’t in order to drop deep into who we are.
The benefits of an active asana practice are evident, not only do you get to have really profound experiences, but you get a workout as well. So what are the benefits of a passive practice?
1. Restorative Yoga is healing for the body and mind.
It engages our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which takes the body into the “rest and digest” state. This state is incredibly healing. This is why after an injury or surgery it’s so important to rest; we heal when we rest, not when we run around. In this state our tissues renew and rejuvenate themselves, our cells and tissues and organs get to live out their purpose and prosper. Our active Yoga practice helps to discipline our Sympathetic Nervous System, in charge of the “fight or flight” response, which is very important for our health, but we need to engage our PNS in order to heal.
2. Long supported holds of poses allow us to really engage in the benefits of the poses.
In an active practice we don’t spend much time in each pose. For example, we can only be in a deep backbend for a few breaths before it becomes fatiguing. But in a restorative practice, the body is supported and we can stay in the poses for long periods of time and really let them do their magic. In that way the poses enhance flexibility, nourish fertility, balance our hormonal activity and lymphatic system and aid our immune and digestive systems as well.
3. Reduce stress.
In our fast paced lives it’s crucial for us to find time and space to be still. It’s incredibly beneficial to create space to physically let go of the hold of our muscles, release the muscle tonus, and relieve our body from chronic strain. That’s why we use props, to create a base of support that encourages us to let go.
4. Create space for emotional healing.
In a way, we hold our emotional issues in our bodies. By physically toning down, deep seeded issues can come up and wash out of our systems. That’s why we may find ourselves experiencing joy, confusion, frustration, or fear during our practice, or even weeping in Savasana. This means feelings are coming up and cycling through.
These are just a few benefits of a Restorative Yoga practice. Just like any other method of Yoga, when we continually show up and nourish our relationship with our practice and with ourselves, it can be profoundly transformative.
Inbal’s classes provide an opportunity to go deep within and to playfully explore the connection of breath, motion and awareness, all while falling in love with sweet subtleties of creation. Inbal teaches Lotus Yin from 4:00-5:15PM on Tuesday, Gentle Flow from 8:30-9:30PM on Wednesday, and Restorative from 6:30-7:45PM on Sunday. She also offers tarot readings at the Lotus! To make an appointment, please call the center at 415-555-1600.