Beyond Appearances: A Close Look at Restorative Yoga
Take a peak with me into a Restorative yoga class at Honor. The room is softly lit by candlelight. As my eyes adjust to the lighting, I see the students, each one reclined and supported by bolsters, pillows, and blankets. They appear at ease and the room is quiet and calm. The only sound is the instructor’s serene voice as she shares a guided mediation with the students. I catch the scent of sage and eucalyptus.
From the outside looking in, this is restorative yoga. But how to explain what’s going on with this practice? I asked Shannon Cranmer, owner of Honor Yoga Mansfield and dedicated restorative yoga guru. Shannon had just finished leading Honor’s first Restorative Teacher Training certification when we spoke.
Simply put “restorative yoga creates an environment for your body to innately do what it needs to heal” she explains. Sounds wonderful, but unpacking this invites a look through the microscope. “The body, Shannon explains, is working all the time to remain in healthy balance. But environmental stresses of all kinds whether it’s injury, illness, job stress, even our healthy workouts!, can create an excess. While this is a life-saving built in response system, when needed, when it’s on continually, bad things happen.
With the microscope still on, Shannon explains how it works. “Restorative yoga ignites a very active process in the nervous system that allows for healing. With the body fully supported in the pose, muscles and connective tissues relax deeply, cueing the para-sympathetic nervous system, the immune system, adrenals, and digestive systems to rest.” She compares it to a cast on a broken arm. “The arm heals itself, the cast doesn’t do anything other than support the body to take care of healing. I’ve been a healing professional for twenty years and I’ve seen what the body can do. Her own experience healing through restorative yoga is nothing short of miraculously inspiring. (that story next, check back!)
Initially students might come in seeking relaxation and rest. What they leave with are real tools to be able to extract themselves from the stress and it harmful effects on the body. I can’t take away the stress, but the practice can mitigate it’s impact and offer respite and relief.
Knowing all she does about how restorative yoga works, the poses, and how to support the body with props, Shannon insists that it is the intention and compassion she brings to her students that is most important to guiding the practice. It is this care for each student that creates the supportive and safe environment needed for restorative yoga.
Who can use restorative yoga? EVERYONE! she nearly shouts. Every yogi, athlete, mom, dad, those who are ill, those who suffer from chronic pain. Everyone can benefit from the practice because every body can benefit from the access to healing that is brought about by deep tissue relaxation.
Interested in deepening your understanding of Restorative Yoga? Want to share this healing practice with others? Shannon will guide you through restorative poses, techniques, philosophy, scenarios and sequences in this 20 hour teacher training certification.
Dates: January 13-15, 2017 at Honor Yoga Princeton studio
Friday: 10-4pm, Saturday: 12-7pm, Sunday: 12-7pm