RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA involves supported body/mind relaxation. This is gentle, gentle yoga that promotes deep relaxation for stress reduction while also stretching and rehabilitating connective tissue.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Hidden Intensity In Restorative-Yin Yoga

Lance Kinseth, 2013

A VERY EARLY Islands of Grace Post  [3/3/2011] sketches a restorative-yin yoga sequence.  But just doing the poses may still mask an essence that is occurring in the sequences.  And understanding this essence can be a meta-motivator to regularly do this type of practice.

At the end of such a sequence, there is likely to be a feeling of deep relaxation.  But it might be interpreted as the result of simply doing less—almost “nothing”—rather than doing something.  And this “doing nothing” seems to have its primary benefit as passive stress relief.

One of the missing aspects in describing the poses in the sequence is the absence of the sensory experience of “flipping a switch” in human physiology.  A pratitoner may experience as sense of relaxation and calmness but may miss a hidden intensity in this practice.

If done appropriately, “doing nothing” actually does a lot.  Done appropriately, there are major shifts in cardio/vascular, neuro-endocrine, lymphatic, Eastern energy that are POWERFUL.  Physiology can open to the micro-cellular level, and the chemicals produced to open vessels and transform endocrine response are extremely complex.  Such sequences, if done appropriately, are, in a very real way, “hard” in the power of their impact rather than beings so soft as to be little more than a respite from stressful life.  Such sequences are extremely active and approximate the higher ends of yoga and meditation.  They are not just “meditative” or “esoteric” or “aesthetic” or “spiritual,” or some sort of generic physiological “relaxation respite,” but rather may be concretely physical/physiological, specifically therapeutic/restorative to specific body parts, and optimal health.

And so, the essence is not the body pose or “technique,” but rather, the unfelt changes [albeit measurable on CT scans and in blood chemistry, HR, BP, EEG, EKG, down to micro measures, such as opening micro vessels on blood vessels or optimized oxygenation of the outer reaches of brain tissue/appendages [vs. contraction to the the body core in intense exercise], or the reduction of demands on the neural-endocrine systems to allow more attention to monitoring subtle process such balancing/regulating salt levels in billions of cells and blood.

And so, when doing restorative-yin sequences, it can be helpful to realize the ultimate objectives are not simply finding tome to relax or to do ease poses.  When done appropriately, restorative-yin yoga is profoundly complex, profoundly active [i.e., flipping a switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the more stress-reducing para-sympathetic system]. And this, in turn, may not only serve optima physiological health, but also open a gateway into the esoteric/aesthetic/spiritual dimensions of human experience that may be tasted, but are never attained in a more active process.

This restorative-yin yoga process can be extended into most other yoga poses, if those poses are done slowly, holding the poses, breathing deeply, and doing sequences of related poses. In fact, it is possible that modern yoga may evolve into a process of slow, deep comprehensive stretching and, thus, escape the limits of a fitness model.

Globally, almost no one is doing restorative-yin yoga.  If it is to be effective, the modern world has rationalized that yoga must essentially be a fitness/workout model.  More active yoga, while not “wrong,” can counter such optimal, restorative dimensions.
While a “workout” approach to yoga is not wrong, it is narrow and often does not accomplish many of the objectives that it seeks to attain, such as weight loss, aerobic conditioning or healing/physical therapy [in fact, frequently producing injury].  

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