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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yoga A B C

Yoga A B C

Yoga A (“active”) tends to be fitness-oriented and/or health-oriented.  This approach is global and has outspread into a whole economy of classes, clothing/mats/accessories that creates a vocation of yoga.  It is strongly oriented toward yoga as a sequence of poses and a sense of “workout.”

Yoga B (“belief”) tends to be spiritist-oriented.  It tends to pay strong homage to either direct adoption of religious practices or incorporating spiritual motifs as well as complimentary medicinal and dietary practices.  It is oriented toward the authority of a teacher and teachings, and tends to emphasize poses either in sequences or not, and may incorporate voice.   

Yoga C (“calm”) tends to be spirituality/philosophy-oriented.  It has less to do with fitness, health, ideology, economy, or vocation.  It is oriented toward connection, liberation/freedom and is contemplative, resulting in poses that are slowed down and stillness beyond poses.   

Elements of Yoga A, B and C are not mutually exclusive with most practices being amalgams.   Yoga A is global and dominant and yet more of a fitness/health process where yoga is incorporated as a cultural motif into fitness.  Yoga B is more limited in its appeal and is sectarian in nature and Yoga C has the least presence and is morel likely to be present as meditation.

Yoga A is likely the most modern, emerging as a 20th Century Indian effort to promote an indigenous national fitness process as a political challenge British rule (and yet influenced by Western gymnastics and military fitness).  Yoga B is an effort to sustain aspects of the diverse religious ascetic practices that go deeply back into the history of cultures south of the Himalayas (with a strong contemporary global emphasis on elements from diverse Hindu sects). Yoga C is a more transcultural approach that aspires to continue the enduring ancient heritage of meditation and breath work when the term “asana” referenced “seat” and ancient art images of “yoga” primarily referenced seated postures in a variety of ascetic efforts to “yoke” the practitioner to ineffable aspects of reality.

Bottom Line: Yogic-like elements can be beneficial for fitness, health, and spirituality.  There is no pure Yoga A or B or C.  One of the contemporary issues involves trying, for example, to practice Yoga A and assume the presence of B and C when they are not present.  Contemporary practices are derivative rather than original, and can be very good for what they primarily try to do OR be degenerative and shallow and faddist “fusions.”

In this context, restorative yoga popularly references a Yoga A health practice, (and as such, is typically described as a “lower-level” body-mind practice for those who cannot do more intensive poses), but it can reference Yoga C (and as such, can reference the deepest “highest” core elements of yoga).

Personal note:  I was drawn to restorative yoga not as Yoga A but as Yoga C: slowing, deepening, stilling—as a step out of the fast-paced everyday and as a fundamental entry point into “heart-mind” that was mentioned in all of the yoga that I was experiencing but that was not really present.  This core quality can then be extended into all asanas/poses—holding, quieting, freeing rather than controlling, allowing the pose to open [See posts in Islands Of Grace on “soft power yoga”]—and into other body-mind-spirit practices such as viniyoga, yin yoga, yoga nidra, tai chi, qigong, aiki, and meditation.

Far from being rigid, participation in “yoga” that is predominantly A or B or C may follow a developmental process to some degree: 
  • Ages 0-35: A, active, a freedom of alternatives [exploring, developing a “vocabulary” of poses and styles];
  • Ages 35-55: B, belief, a freedom of discipline [refining a personal pathway]; and
  • Ages 55+: C, calm, a freedom of expanding identity [Perception of events as subtle rather than black-and-white, concepts as limiting, boundaries no longer explicit, resulting in dis-identification (letting go), opening, and then expanding, integrating)]. 

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