Restorative Yoga – Misunderstood

It’s not Yin yoga.

Newer studios or newer teachers tend to offer Yin & Restorative, putting both in the same basket but according Judith Lasater, teachers’ teachers’ teacher, they are best as a separate class or if they are merged for marketing or practical purposes, each style well defined and giving enough time to segway into ample time for restorative portion – for that class to actually do something – 90 minutes – so both can somehow manage to be be well integrated for that special brew of a blend. That’s according to my teacher, being the purist. It’s hard to find a “purist” or the authority or expert in the fields sometimes because of the pressures to pack the class with bodies.

Yin’s intention is totally not the same as Restorative – and we know how intentions for what we do defines that time we engage in what we do to actually affect the quality of the class. Without the intention part, there’s no shift in our consciousness, no power for transformation. It’s that mindless unconscious head space otherwise and we are just flinging our body parts around into different shapes just because. If restorative is radical and complete relaxation to illicit para-sympathetic nervous system to do wonders for you, yin is on a physical level about connective tissues and internal organs health – similar to the intent of acupuncture treatment in unblocking clogged/obstructed meridian channels. Also it’s a practice to find that calm and peace with the discomforts and stillness we cultivate in a world that’s fast moving, loud, agitating and turbulent. As the name Yin suggests, it’s based on Chinese medicine principles of dualism vis -a- vis oneness, wholeness and harmony. If you’ve been to a “real” restorative class and then to a “real” yin class, the difference between the two is so clear. One is about withdrawal of senses – the other, quite the opposite, it’s about tuning into the senses – for some, that could be about noticing and being in their own body for the first time or it could be about …rediscovery. Yes, they are both softer side of yoga but it’s as different as apples to oranges – yeah, they are both fruits and they are both sweet but … Okay, maybe not that drastic but … it’s definitely not the same. Not even close. The trouble is that there are fewer and fewer teachers willing to provide the real restorative experiences because just by numbers alone, it does not appear as profitable = it’s not possible to pack in many students per square footage for a quality class. It’s more complicated with the props and the mood we want to create. If it were truly restorative, there may even be a cap of 10 students per class, per teacher so that the supportive props are truly supportive and that the teacher is willing and actually able to mirror back the beauty of each soul who appear before her with no judgment or ego. Just trauma sensitive and holding space, just allowing the students to get over themselves and get out of their own way. Allowing the students to arrive to homeostasis by calibrating their own ability to heal.

It is too bad that many never get to experience the pure yin and pure restorative. I feel guilty too for not offering that purity even though I know how beneficial it would be … While I talk of being a purist, I too am guilty of fusion style. But drawing from all kinds of traditions, teachers and … coming up with a recipe that’s nourishing for the soul. As a lover of foods, an analogy would be like a chef who specializes in French cuisine, with years of training becoming an authority in French cooking … like Julia Child. Then there’s Martin Yan, another great chef when it comes to Chinese cooking where his expertise lies. Would it be as great if Marin Yan cooked French?; and Julia Child cooked up Chinese dishes? I am sure they are capable and with the skill set they already have as a chef, they can (with some lessons) BUT … why? Why don’t we leave the French cuisine experience to Julia Child; and Chinese delicacies to Martin Yan not Gordon Ramsay, not Alice Waters. They are all great but they area great because they are so dedicated, passionate and trained extensively in that style of cooking. So … Why be a generalist when you can be so superb in that one field whether it be French cooking mastery to Yin yoga style or restorative or power yoga.

Maybe we are all asked to be a generalist. Whatever gets you to the mat, right?

Well …

Here’s Andrea Pelosa I had the pleasure of assisting Judith Lasater with, as she’s one of the lead assistants to those apprenticing under Judith.
I used to be a team leader in a corporate job setting and so Andrea was like a team leader when team of us were assisting the master teacher with the lovely Lizzie by her side.
She is super knowledgeable and here she shares that through this interview. Not everyone need to agree but … a purist, I can appreciate.

Very educational ! Here it is:

019: Restorative Yoga with Andrea Peloso