A (flat) twist on an old favourite

I love savasana. Practicing it. Teaching it. Evangelising about it.

Feel your feet pressing into the wall - Laura lying on a grey yoga mat with the soles of her feet against a white wall

And after more than two decades practicing yoga and loving corpse pose, I’ve discovered a new way to lie flat on my back. Pressing the soles of my feet against a wall has brought a new twist to this old practice—and given me a newfound appreciation for the possibilities of the pose.

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What does it mean to really rest?

Much of what we think of as ‘resting’ is pretty active. Watching Netflix, reading a book, listening to a podcast, scrolling through Instagram, paying attention to current affairs—all tasks that require our brains to be engaged and alert. It’s rare that we allow ourselves to simply be, letting the mind drift and the body be entirely idle. Even catching some zzzs isn’t the same as conscious, deliberate rest. Our brains work like crazy as we dream and our cells shift into maintenance mode while we sleep—not to mention that we wind up in all kinds of not-so-comfortable positions when we subconsciously shift in bed.

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Darkness inspires deep relaxation

This coming Saturday I’m teaching a special extra-long yoga class at Younion Yoga to mark the Winter Solstice. It’s the third year I’ve led this seasonally-driven session and I particularly love using yoga to embrace darkness on this longest night of the year. The inspiration for the practice fits perfectly with my teaching style: deliberately slow, purposely restful, mindfully self-centred, well-supported—and with a bonus literary touch. 

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Friday Evening Yoga Escape in Copenhagen

Person lying in effortless pose on the grass under leafy tree branches

While I’m starting to feel more settled in Zurich, Copenhagen remains my yoga home. And since I’ll be back for a quick visit in May, I’m squeezing in teaching a class!

If you’re in Copenhagen, you can join me for an extra-long, extra-relaxing class on Friday, 17 May from 19.00-21.00 at Østerbro Yogaforening.

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Better living through technology (aka better yoga through props)

Yoga props and Laura in easy poseI’m co-hosting a Restorative Yoga workshop next weekend (21 May) with my friend and fellow yoga teacher, Constanza. As part of my preparation, I’ve been re-reading Your Body, Your Yoga (yin yoga teacher Bernie Clark’s latest book) in which he talks a lot about physical differences in yoga students and how important it is to practice for your own body.

I love Bernie’s philosophy because he’s clear about the why behind doing yoga: “to use the pose to get into the body.”1

And he’s a huge advocate of using props to support the pose – as am I. Props can make all the difference in a pose and I encourage their use extensively in my yin yoga classes. They’re even more necessary in restorative yoga!

Restorative yoga is a practice of being, rather than doing. Opening and softening, rather than stretching. Deliberating resting, rather than sleeping. It’s all about comfort and it’s much easier to be comfortable when we’re supported and the body is at ease.

I know that there are many yogis who feel like props are cheating. For me, it’s just plain stupid not to use all of the tools available to make your yoga practice (or your life) the best it can be. It’s like eschewing technological advances in  because they make life too easy and too comfortable.

Just like technology creates the opportunity for better living, props create the opportunity for better yoga!

 

 

ps – I had no idea that ‘Better Living through Chemistry’ started as a DuPont advertising slogan. Always new things to learn!

1 The full quote from the January 2014 YinYoga.com newsletter is:

Yangsters hate props – are you a yangster? The use of a prop is unconsciously equated to cheating. The inner dialogues goes something like this, “I can do this pose! I don’t need no stinking prop!” But yinsters know something that yangsters haven’t quite grasped yet – the intention of their yoga practice is not to look any particular way; it is not to get into a pose: the intention is to feel a particular way; to use the pose to get into the body. Yinsters don’t care if a little extra help is needed to get sensation into the targeted area: if props can help – let’s use props!

Rest deeply

To relax is to REST deeplyIf you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, burdened, fatigued, dog-tired (hundtræt), over-extended, beat, confused, spent, exhausted, weary, over-committed or just tired and you’re in the Copenhagen-area, come join me for deep rest on 25 February from from 15.00-17.30 for a Restorative Wonderland.

This two and a half hour workshop at Hot Yoga Østerbro is a deep restorative yoga practice with gentle mantra music and a long yoga nidra (guided relaxation) that will help you rest deeply and refuel for your regular life. The passive therapeutic practice of restorative yoga provides deep rest for tired bodies, relaxation for busy minds and rejuvenation for the entire nervous system.

The workshop features gentle mantra music and deep yoga nidra (guided relaxation). It costs 250 kr. and is limited to 8 students.

See the Restorative Wonderland page for more information and registration.

Sneaky savasana

Laura lying in savasanaIt’s the last Friday of the month, which usually means I lead an extra-long savasana in my 6:30pm class at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre… but we’re in the midst of a 40 Day Transformation Yoga Challenge and have tailored all the class sequences to the Challenge.

It’s day 11 of the Challenge, which marks the start of the start of the clearing out phase – targeting the liver, kidneys, and digestive system. The Bound Lotus yin teachers have worked together to create a lovely yin sequence to relax the abdominal muscles and stimulate the internal organs (urinary bladder, liver, kidneys, and gallbladder)… but it’s a full 75 minute series.

I want to get the best of both worlds by slightly truncating the proscribed yin sequence for the second 10 days of the Challenge and doing a long savasana, rather than the extra-long one I usually do for the last Friday class of the month.

I’m hoping to sneak in a little more savasana than in a standard class, along with a delicious guided relaxation (yoga nidra), while remaining true to the Challenge series of yin postures and getting all the benefits of the clearing out sequence.

A long and slightly sneaky deep relaxation seems like just the thing to wrap up April and might be a bit of a treat for students who are now 1/4 through the Challenge!

If you’re intrigued by the Transformation Yoga Challenge, you can still join in and make it a personal 30 day challenge! It’s never too late to take on a challenge 🙂