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.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Indonesian and Asian Indian Batiks

DO WE NEED A blanket or blankets or a scarf in yoga or meditation?  No, but...

a heavy “therapeutic blanket” may be used with autism and ADHD as a way to reduce the amount of environmental stimulation.  Any blanket offers a reduction of stimuli, can comfort or swaddle, or offer a sense of enclosure and the qualities of refuge and retreat.  A blanket can reducing the ouchiness of bony parts on hard surfaces, as well as go much further to intentionally amplify relaxation by, for example, placing arms outspread on floor on blankets.  Like blocks and bolsters, blankets can facilitate stretching as the body relaxes rather than holds back or resists for any level of practice and not just when a person “can’t do a pose.” They can aid transition from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system.  Beyond facilitating deeper stretching, blankets are helpful where a person aspires to attend more to body-mind. 

Mexican blankets are typical blankets in yoga, but other blankets offer different qualities: soft blankets and firm “army blankets,” large blankets and small (offering a wedge, perhaps as support for under the thigh or under an arm or cervical curve on neck).

Various types of materials create various types of experience: a Mexican blanket—course and firm, pashmina—very silky soft cashmere, fleece, hand-sewn quilts with both comfort and perhaps family heritage associations, thin colorful batik introducing and incorporating art, …

Colors and textures are instructive.  One may be drawn to a specific color such as turquoise or teal or to a specific texture.

Blankets and wraps can alter a “workout mindset.”   They are useful in more active practice to pad knees and shoulders, but slowing down and doing more mat work, they can amplify relaxing and stretching.

There are also headscarves and arm warmers as well as compression clothing that offer a sense of containment.  Scarves are approached as decorative and perhaps as comforting.  And they might also offer a more intentional “spiritual” quality, similar to a "stole" worn by priests when saying their daily office or like a rakusu in Zen Buddhism—sort of ritually, very intentionally, bringing the sacred into practice.

While all of this may seem extraneous or decorative at best and superficial and dilute or misdirect a body-mind practice, such an attitude may reflect cultural bias that may miss something of value:  Consider the commentary of an anthropologist in his experiences in the South Pacific where women and men wore bright colors and flowers, and dressing similarly, and then noting a feeling of suppression and restriction and hardness when returning to the United States. 

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