I always think of your level as a yogi more in terms of your mental state than your physical prowess... because it's true! If you've ever been around an enlightened being... you know in your soul that the yogic state has NOTHING to do with bending into a pretzel. For an authority on this topic let's look back (waaaay back) to the ancient text Śiva Saṃhitā*. It offers some powerful insight that coincides with what I've noticed over the years. Note that some words in classic texts can be extreme or hyperbolic - this is called arthavāda - and it's actually meant to trigger shock to help us learn and remember a point! The language meant to shine the light of awareness on our inner attitudes, so that we may mature as yogis. We might also keep in mind that not all of us start as beginners (in terms of internal mind set)... or that we may bounce around at different times of life, depending on our internal or external circumstances. Read on...
I wasn't born with any conscious plans to "be a yogi" (who is?!)... I was voraciously curious about human nature... Starting when I was 10 years old, my family endured some traumas and hardships and that fueled my interest in struggle and survival. I read a LOT of books - about slavery, civil rights, ancient Egypt, indigenous cultures and such. The traumas also fueled my tendency to feel concerned and responsible for the well-being of others. After a volunteer-work trip to central America in my teens, I was set! I was going to "make a difference" by helping those in need - women, children, and families who were suffering. I went to college with a focused spirit and was ultimately invited to a PhD program... to be paid to teach and do research...
.... Except, something was nagging at me...
We all can understand that being inside the architecture of a Roman Cathedral has a particular internal effect, different from a log cabin! Or what about overlooking the Taj Mahal? Standing at the roots of a Redwood tree? Sitting fireside in an oceanside cottage? Architecture has an impact. What about the architecture of a yoga pose? What is the difference in effect between reclined, seated or standing poses? You can elevate the subtlety of your yoga practice if you take into consideration the effects of the architecture of the poses. Vāstu (the vedic science of arrangement, design and architecture) can be applied to the architecture of a home, business or place of worship, interior design, nature, and even the postures of the human body. Let's look at three of the main types of yoga poses - reclined, standing and seated - in terms of this tradition of noting the subtle effect of architecture.
Over the years, I have had new people come to a SRY class thinking that, because of the blankets, the slow pace, and the lack of extreme angles and asanas, that it is "beginner" yoga.
Some students, at least when they start, believe that a restorative yoga practice is to help them recover from or prepare them for what they perceive as "advanced" yoga (which usually just means something they saw in a yoga magazine}
Let's look at this question of whether restorative forms of yoga are "remedial", or if something deeper and more transformative is going on. What truly makes an "advanced" yoga practice, according to the yoga tradition itself, and let's explore why many experienced yogis and yoga teachers have a soft spot for restorative forms of yoga.
Yoga Therapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner & Mama - these articles are to support your yoga practice with knowledge and inspiration.