While teaching my restorative yoga class this week, I set a collective intention to focus on an essential element of restorative yoga that I recently read about called yielding. Yielding is the conscious practice of surrender, to let go.
For those who do not know, restorative yoga derived from a yoga style that was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, who is considered one of the great yoga masters. Judith Lasater, a student of Iyengar, popularized restorative yoga in the US in the 1970’s. The premise of restorative yoga is to restore both body and mind by relaxing into adaptive asanas (poses) by using props, aids, and a meditative breath. I generally do not teach any more than 6-7 poses in a one hour class, using hands-on adjustments, props, sand bags, essential oils, and a strong focus on meditation to allow students to ease into stillness to find a release of emotions, mental strain, and muscle tension.
In my own practice, I have been finding surrender a difficult concept. As a self-diagnosed perfectionist letting go is one of those things that is a real struggle. When people ask me why I practice yoga, I practice yoga because of how it helps me off the mat and asanas is just a vehicle I use to help me get there. When I consciously work on yielding, surrendering in a pose, I am practicing how to do that when I will need it most in life, off my mat.
We all hold on to things that served us once in life but may not be serving us anymore. Things that served us once may have been either healthy or unhealthy, adaptive or maladaptive, but either way, they worked and that’s why we had them. At some point in all our lives we come to a place where these things no longer work, they no longer serve us, or simply put, we no longer need them. That can happen for many reason; maybe we found a healthier way of coping, of thinking, of doing, or we just got tired of the old way and saw a different way of being.
When we practice yielding in restorative yoga, we are consciously releasing tension through softening, relaxing of our muscles, and surrendering to gravity. So often throughout our day we are holding on tension and stress physically in our bodies, and it is usually very unconscious. The more we practice consciously relaxing our muscles the greater self-awareness we develop and can do that throughout our day even without cueing. When we allow our muscles to relax, we allow for fuller and deeper breathes. With a steady full breath, it assists us with our focus and concentration during meditation and extended exhales induce our relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system).
You can practice yielding in the comfort of your own home with a full body stretch.
All of this allows us to practice the art of surrender. The art of being able to release tension and the unconscious things we continue to hold on to even after they are finished serving us. This is one of the reasons I practice yoga, to practice yielding, to surrender.
Hello! Welcome to my Blog on self care . I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Yoga Teacher.