“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day- unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” –Old Zen adage
At my beautiful teacher Amore’s urging, I’ve made a concerted effort to incorporate more yin/restorative yoga into my practice. Since I require a little more of a push when starting a new routine (AKA someone to take the bottle of wine out of my hands and deliver me to the yoga studio), I recruited some friends to keep me accountable and join me for these mellow restorative nights. At 8:15pm, the dark room is illuminated only dimly from overhead, with candles placed throughout the classroom breathing a warm glow.
The teacher had us start in child’s pose, explaining that the aim of this practice tonight was to target the oft-neglected kidneys. She offered some cool physiology tidbits: Your kidneys filter 15 gallons of blood per hour! They remove excess organic molecules from your system! Give your kidneys some love today- they’re the real MVP.
I really appreciated the targeted approach to relaxation, as counterintuitive as that sounds. With her strong, body-based intention, I had a physical goal for my relaxing restoration; the mental aspect was entirely up to me. As I sunk down into the pose with every breath, I thanked myself for making time for this moment of surrender, appeasing the type-A mind with the assurance that the full hour was definitely going to keep my kidneys filtering blood effectively.
Keeping with the intention, most of our poses were focused on the low back, wringing out the organs, and opening the hips. We held the positions for anywhere from 2-5 minutes, allowing the body to surrender into depth rather than muscle into it.
The low-hanging fruit of a metaphor here is that the destination is attainable, no matter what your mode of transportation is. Sitting in a wide-legged straddle with my torso folded long over the floor in front of me, I resisted the urge to force myself into a pancake to find the overwhelming sensation of a deep hamstring stretch. Rather, with a slight bend in the knees, I found length and depth with every breath.
So, yeah. What I’m trying to say is that I spent a whole hour stretching and it was f***ing glorious. Have you ever been to a restorative class? All of my high-strung friends like to say things like “Ugh I CANNOT sit still for an hour, that sounds like torture. I want to SWEAT! I don’t have time to lay around and stretch.” Girl, calm your damn self and find some peace.
I am so tired of this trend of “busy-ness” and hyperactivity as a defining trait of drive and success. We are made to think that self care is indulgent, and that a physical activity isn’t worth doing if we can barely squat to sit on the toilet the next day (“MY QUADS ARE SO DONE! Will you carry me down the stairs?”**). I like basking in my soreness the day after a workout as much as the next adrenaline junkie, but there’s nothing shameful or lazy about carving time out of your schedule to reset and take care of your body. So my goal is to appreciate the moments of surrender and know that stillness is a skill.
** I’ve actually asked Matt to do this