This is a guest post I wrote for Sara Duke, of Do Restorative Yoga.
I first became interested in Yin Yoga, and then Restorative shortly after that, two years ago when my friend and yoga teacher mentioned it to me as a possible way to relieve muscle tension and the stress that causes it. She loaned me a book by Sarah Powers, "Insight Yoga," and a DVD by Paul Grilley, "Yin Yoga: The Foundations of a Quiet Practice." I fell in love with the long, slow poses and the quiet contemplation they encouraged. For my birthday, she gave me Richard Miller's book & DVD, "Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga," and I immediately incorporated that and yin into my weekly rotation of asana practice.
Life is so YANG! With sons in the military and college and another one in high school (where I also work), a husband whose job demands travel and long hours, it seems like I'm often struggling to catch a long, slow, deep breath! Throw menopause in there and my brain and body are often caught up in a confusing, spinning vortex of activity and fatigue. I have found that these practices are helping me to cultivate a calm, positive energy. Indeed, that is the heart of my sankalpa...that intention I set for myself... when I lie down for a restorative session.
When Sara of Do Restorative Yoga took on her 40 day challenge to rest and restore every day, it encouraged me to find time for a little every day, not just once a week. I jumped in with her around day 25 and enjoyed reading about her experiences and sharing impressions of the different personalities and styles we encountered in the recordings. I found that even on my busiest days I could fit in a 15 - 17 minute session with Katie Meehan or Vicki Hansen after work before running to a late afternoon Jazzercise class. In fact, I found that short lie-down to really give me the energy for the dancing and weight training we do in Jazz. On days where I stay in for the evening, I'll choose a longer session by Amy Weintraub, Richard Miller or Winter Robinson.
I attended a weekend workshop at The Asheville Yoga Center in February about using yoga to manage your mood. The workshop was led by Weintraub and she explained that she does yoga nidra every day without fail. She usually does it while still lying in bed in the morning. She just reaches for her earbuds and ipod and switches on one of a few different recordings she has. She explained that doing it in the morning is nice because it's easier to stay awake. I've found that to be the case, too. My favorite mornings are those where I rise at 4:30, do a short kundalini morning warm-up, 11-minute meditation, and then end with a 20-minute yoga nidra recording. I find myself energized and ready to greet the day.
When I began my meditation practice, my mentor said, "It's 11 minutes! Everybody can find 11 minutes!" She's right. And now I find that I also feel that way about Yoga Nidra. Everyone can find time for a short practice. You just have to keep your mind open to those little spans of time where nothing is going on. And then? When you find it? Lie down with a recording and do nothing!"