Finding ways to center and reconnect with ourselves is crucial. Restorative and Yin Yoga practices are beneficial in helping to do just that. Both yoga types stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and brings focus to the breath, and are great for all levels of experience. While they are similar in providing a slow-paced, stress-relieving experience, they differ in that Restorative is more about supporting your body, allowing it to relax and heal; while Yin is more about stretching and applying gentle stress to certain spots. In order to get a feel for these gentler yoga practices, three of our team members visited local yoga studios to report back on their experiences.
“I’ve attended a few yoga classes throughout life, but I carry stress in my shoulders and hips — think the Tin Man before the oil. Combine that with no memory recall when given instructions and you have my current practice of ‘Yoga Pants That Never Go to Yoga.’ So, when Harkness Yoga posted that Susanna Beirich was starting a new class on Thursday mornings for those who want to increase mobility through gentle moving, the Yin Flow practice piqued my interest.
The studio space was clean and serene, which I loved, and Beirich greeted me with the energy usually reserved for a best friend. Mats, blocks and blankets are all available if needed, so no worries about having the right equipment. Beirich was guiding and encouraging, offering suggestions and sprinkling bits of wisdom that sink in and become helpful when tackling a pose. When I was unable to simply bend toward my toes, she sweetly said ‘not every pose serves you.’ While she credited T.K.V. Desikachar, author of The Heart of Yoga, it was her sharing that gift of wisdom that eased my mind and relaxed my muscles. She then placed a rolled blanket over my lap to make the pose easier and I was able to actually bend forward.
Yoga is not competitive. No scores to keep, points to gain or speeds to reach. I appreciate that. In a time when pushing and struggling seem to be the norm, it’s comforting to be reminded that not every pose serves you.”
– Terrie Moore, Spaces Stylist and Writer
“I have begun to include restorative yoga in my well-being routine, especially during the last two years. As a former athlete and person who likes intense workouts, I have often opted to shy away from exercise classes that don’t make me sweat. However, recently I have been attending Restorative yoga classes in the Coastal Bend. Restorative Yoga itself is an opportunity to reconnect with your body, breathe and hold positions much longer — sometimes up to 5 minutes — for deep stretches and restoration to the muscles and surrounding ligaments.
Somos Yoga is a cozy space, for smaller class sizes of around eight people. The room was the perfect temperature with incense and relaxing music. Somos offered the traditional props of blankets, bolsters and blocks, but I also had the opportunity to use straps to help hold positions and relax other muscle groups during the pose without straining or having to work to get into position. Restorative yoga is about comfort, not sitting in silent pain during poses. The instructor Kaeli offered small touches of towels with essential oils to cover your eyes, reinforced comfort and offered suggestions for modifying poses. I appreciated the single nostril breathing exercises at the beginning of class to set the tone and intention, and she also performed Reiki while in Shavasana pose. A great opportunity to get a few friends together and sign up for a class together — I enjoyed the 4 PM Sunday class; it was nice to wind down and have a quiet evening afterward.”
-Suzzette James, Contributor
“If I am going to be active, I shy away from any activity that won’t get my heart rate up to at least 130 BPM and leave me drenched in sweat. However, the older I get and the more I discover what works for me and my body, the more I have learned to incorporate slower movements and the importance of recovery in between the harder sweats. That is why I was thrilled to attend a Yin class at Akasha Yoga & Meditation. I’m not usually a big ‘class’ person, and I was a bit nervous when I pulled up. However, the moment I walked through the doors, my nerves dissipated. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the official studio pup Shay and owner Cheryl Lehman; both instantly made me feel right at home.
Our instructor for the Yin class was Susanna Beirich, and her calming presence and glowing energy was intoxicating. She helped everyone set up their props and lightly assisted with poses throughout the practice. Yin flow is a gentle approach to yoga which increases circulation in the joints, improves flexibility and takes more of a meditative style. Beirich’s guidance allowed for modifications to either get a deeper stretch or make the pose less challenging. Each pose was held for several minutes, allowing both your body and mind to be fully present and enveloped into the practice. As someone who has a constantly racing mind and often has trouble with meditative practices, I was able to completely escape for the full hour. I’d highly recommend this yoga practice — or any restorative and gentle flows — to any and everyone, regardless of yoga experience. I felt completed relaxed and significantly more flexible after the practice, and a unique, calming kind of energy going into the rest of my day.”