Restorative yoga: the most important practice you’re not doing

We all thought this pandemic would end in April. Maybe May. We were wrong.

This pandemic is here to stay for a good while longer, and with it, prolonged stress and anxiety. We’re isolated, our routines are interrupted, we’re worried about our children and our parents and our livelihoods and how to take care of each other. Our nervous systems have been on high alert way longer that they’re designed to be, and that can result in interrupted sleep, feelings of isolation and loneliness, anxiety about the uncertainty of the future. All of this has very real implications for our mental and physical health.

Restorative yoga can help. Restorative yoga is a very gentle, slow, still practice that involves holding a short series of poses for longer periods of time, maybe 3-5 minutes each. Poses may be prop-assisted, using bolsters, blocks or blankets.

While a more active yoga class involves stretching and building strength, the work in restorative yoga is in the release. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic or relaxation response in the body, which helps to balance the nervous system. This allows our bodies and minds to experience deep healing and rest – something that is needed now more than ever.

Best of all, restorative yoga is accessible to everyone! Anyone can do it regardless of fitness level. Practicing at home and don’t have props? A firm pillow makes a great stand-in for a bolster, and a thick book or two can give the support of a block. And several local studios have stocked up on props for sale at very reasonable prices, to help people take up this very healing practice during the pandemic.

Finally, restorative yoga is a way to send some compassion to yourself during an unprecedented and extremely stressful time. It’s important (and very healing) for us to look at each other, to look at ourselves, and say, “I see you. I see your struggle.” And I don’t know about you, but I think we can all benefit from a little more compassion right now. When we heal, it ripples out to those around us.

If you want to give this deeply healing practice a try, I teach restorative yoga at Arkansas Yoga Collective on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. But if you’re not ready to venture back to the studio just yet, you’re not local to Little Rock, or you just prefer to practice at home, here’s a restorative practice video for you to enjoy.

Wishing you and those you love health and healing. Be well!

Work-at-home yoga for entrepreneurs and creatives

This past week, I had the privilege of being invited by the Venture Center to lead them in a chair yoga workshop. I had a blast talking with this amazing group of entrepreneurs and creatives about the many benefits of yoga, and sharing a mindful and meditative, yet energizing sequence that anyone can do at home, at the office, or anywhere.

Working from home during quarantine has presented a whole new set of stressors on our minds and bodies. For entrepreneurs and creatives, it’s incredibly challenging to stay productive, manage projects, and make all the important decisions…maybe while also trying to homeschool, hold space for our families, maintain our mental and physical health, and manage the stress of this very unusual and rather scary global moment. What are we doing to check in with ourselves and notice how we’re feeling? Yoga provides an opportunity to check out of the hustle and check in with ourselves. That’s important, especially when we may be quarantined with other people and time alone is hard to come by.

Plus, we sit. A lot. Instead of doing our work in our ergonomic office chairs, we’re spread out at the dining room table in rigid chairs, hunched over our computers or phones. Ouch! The most common request I’ve been getting from clients during quarantine is help relieving tension in their upper back, shoulders, and neck, and it’s no wonder. That’s where most of us are likely to store our pent-up stress. So I developed an easy practice to focus on connecting breath to movement, while gently wringing out stress in those areas that most need it right now.

This workshop was live on Zoom and broadcast on FB Live, so here it is, in case you want to give a little chair yoga a try. Connecting breath to movement is a good idea anytime, and so is taking the time to show yourself a little love. Thanks so much for having me, friends!

Free online classes. Be well!

I hope this post finds you all well. This coronavirus, she is no joke. Hopefully all of you are adhering to CDC guidelines by practicing social distancing, and sheltering in place to the extent possible.

This is the new normal. And while it’s temporary, let’s face it, we could be in for a long haul at home. I want to do my part to help you stay on your mat during this time. Last week, I shot a couple of practice videos for you, and I plan to keep them coming. So I created a video page (you’ll see it on the menu above, too).

Yoga, meditation, mental health tips and topics – I want what I share to be useful to you. So let me hear from you! I want to know what you’re interested in.

Finally, I’m offering the content on my video page free of charge. This is my karma yoga. I’ve had people ask for my Venmo, and I’m grateful that you find these resources to be of value. If you feel that you would like to contribute, I’d like to invite you to do so by purchasing a gift certificate to your favorite salon or local boutique, ordering takeout from a locally-owned restaurant, supporting a favorite artist or musician who may be struggling, or making a contribution to a nonprofit that is providing needed support and resources to those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of this pandemic. Those are all things that need our support right now, for those in a position to give it.

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free; and may my actions contribute to the happiness and freedom of others.

Be well!

Today’s schedule: impermanence

No matter what you had going on this time last week, thanks to COVID-19/coronavirus, this week is CANCELLED.

And next week is also cancelled.

We don’t really know how long everything is going to be cancelled. As someone who stays pretty busy, as I know you do, and has a lot of scribble in my calendar as I know you do, this is pretty surreal. THERE IS NOTHING ON YOUR CALENDAR NOW. And you may be having feelings about this.

Maybe you are good with this. “This social distancing is what we are called to do to show care and concern for others in our community,” you may be thinking. “We are all making sacrifices. I’m okay being uncomfortable if it means fewer people will get sick.”

Maybe you are grateful for this sudden windfall of unstructured time. You’re leaning in. There’s a stack of books on your nightstand that you can finally read! Netflix to catch up on! Board games with the family. Long, social-distancing-approved walks in your neighborhood. Maybe you needed a reason to stop and your body and your soul are whispering “…thank you.”

Or, your anxiety is off the f***ing charts. You watch the news coverage. Things look dire and it weighs heavy. This crisis has made your economic security uncertain. You are scared for the sick and vulnerable. Or you wonder how long it will be before someone you love is affected, whether from a health perspective or an economic one. This is hitting some people very, very hard.

Maybe you’ve got school-age kids at home. You’re feeling pressure to keep a sense of routine, home schooling, all the things. They’re bouncing off the walls. The screen time rules, the snacks, it’s all out of your control. On top of that, you’re working from home, or feeling pressure to be productive in other ways. And you’re about to seriously lose it.

And I want to tell you, how you’re feeling, how you’re operating? You are doing the best you can.

Read that again: You are doing the best you can.

Feel how you feel. There’s no roadmap for this. Don’t let anyone pressure you to feel a certain way about it. Don’t let anyone “GOOD VIBES ONLY!” all over you. Just breathe. Notice. Greet whatever comes up with compassion.

Wash your hands. Stay home. Love you.