Energy follows attention.
Jeff Brown, a Certified Massage Therapist, led a distinctly unique workshop that combined a restorative yoga practice with massage at Namaste Oakland Grand Lake on Oct. 22. This two-hour workshop sailed by like peaceful waves on a subdued summer ocean. Pardon the trite water metaphor here, but in fact this workshop was breathtaking. The workshop was summarized as:
Learn to listen to and experience hte body and breath in a whole new way. Unwind and let go of tension at deeply held physical, mental, an denergetic layers by using comfortable supported poses, breathwork, and mindfulness meditation.
Brown, along with two other Certified Massage Therapists, Kate Maxey — also a Lisenced Acupuncturist — and Malka Lew — also a Yoga Instructor — integrated restorative massage as we moved through a gentle sequence.
The process of healing, whether mental, physical or emotional is ongoing, and this for me is a challenge. Since I work in an environment with deadlines, spreadsheets and a newswire, I am constantly shifting my focus, moving from one task to the next. When it comes to my job, this behavior makes me successful. However, when it comes to healing my recently pulled back muscles, moving too fast can be detrimental. My recent injury was a huge impetus to take this workshop and become more familiar with the benefits of using props and taking the time to heal myself.
At the start of the workshop Brown made a few great suggestions for how to prepare for a restorative yoga practice:
- Keep your mat soft and warm; layer it with blankets if the ground beneath you is too hard.
- Remove distractions; create a sacred space.
- Take a moment to connect with the energy body; take a few breaths in child’s pose or corpse pose.
Throughout the whole two hours we probably moved through less than 10 poses. Brown was very articulate when describing how props should be set up, but continued to emphasize that comfort was the ultimate goal. Once you are able to rest comfortably the work can begin. Start by identifing areas of the body that may be experiencing soreness or pain and direct your breath, your attention, to those areas. As you breath and focus on a particular area you activate the energy body. It feels like heat is building in that targeted area. Restoring the body is a subtle process, but after just two hours it was apparent that this work has value.
Below I have a few pictures and brief descriptions of a few of the poses we did during the workshop. I found the assisted child’s pose, as well as the corpse pose with a bolster along the spine to provide me with the most release.
Stack pillows as high as you like to give your hips a chance to settle in, and your spine some time to round and relax. For more a more nurturing pose wrap your arms around the pillows and clasp your wrists in the opposing hands.
Stack pillows or bolsters as high as you like so that your torso is supported along an incline. Rest knees to one side and then the other for a restorative, low-impact twist.
Starting in a seat position a bolster up against your bum so that as you lie back your spine aligns along the bolster. Allow your neck to fall back off the bolster or use a pillow for cervical spine support. Also, for added support put a bolster or pillow under your knees.
From corpse pose roll onto your right side and bring your knees up towards your chest. If you like you can put a pillow in between your legs, mitigating the weight of one leg on top of the other. Find your breath here before gently finishing up your practice.
Brown’s workshop was a brilliant change of pace, a reminder that yoga is not just a mode of toning and cultivating inner peace. Yoga is also a very powerful healing tool.
Try adding just a few restorative yoga poses to your personal practice and see what arises!