When I first started practicing yoga, I would only do so in a public class. I also only attended classes that were "yang" or more active, almost always Vinyasa Flow. Yoga became a way to get my "ya yas" out - to physically exhaust my body, which then in turn allowed for my mind to calm and release the mental chatter (vrittis) of everday life. In fact, when I first began my practice, I had been suffering from fairly frequent anxiety attacks which almost immediately after I began practicing with regularity, completely dissipated.
My first experience with a more restorative class was during my teacher training I remember the day we practiced restoratives I had the *worst* savasana I had ever experienced. I kept feeling my thoughts popping against the insides of my eye balls trying to get out and every fiber of my being was itching to move. At that point I decided slow yoga just wasn't for me. That is until I found my way into a class at Back Bay Yoga Studio (which would eventually become my yoga home) with Ame Wren (who little did I know would become one of my beloved mentors) - Vinyasa with Deep Relaxation. It was at 6:15pm on a Saturday that I happened to have off from my teacher training and I needed to get out of the house. I figured that the Vinyasa portion of the class would make up for the so called "relaxation" portion and I'd hopefully be able to scratch my itch for movement. The class was exactly what I needed, about 45 minutes of warrior flows and then about 45 minutes of cuddling with a bolster. While in a prone twist over the bolster I felt my jaw relax and my body start to soften completely (and I'm pretty sure a little bit of drool started to form in the corner of my mouth. It was heavenly. Thus began my love affair with yin and restorative yoga.
Now almost a year and a half later, when I have been coming to my mat the last week for this yoga adventure I am on - every single day I have been doing some sort of yin/restorative flow. Odd, considering my intentions are usually to get a few Sun A & B's in there and play around with some inversions. After I center myself on my mat, my gaze settles on my bolster and... it's all over from there. Rather than trying to force my body to do what my mind believes it should be doing, I have been trying to practice what I preach and not think about it too much. If my body wants to chill out in child's pose hugging a bolster for 5 minutes - so be it!
One of the biggest challenges in a practice (or I would venture to say, in life) is to accept yourself and your needs regardless of whether or not they match up with your preconceived notions of what you should be doing. Embrace your self in the moment and don't worry about going off the path your teacher sets forth for you. As teachers we are able to give suggestions and keep your practice safe, but you are the only one who can judge what your body needs in the given moment. So, go ahead and rock out a handstand on the way to chaturanga or take your savasana a half an hour early, as long as you are working from a place of authenticity rather than from your ego - your body will thank you for it.
Light and Love.
Yoga Teacher based in Boston, MA. Teacher of Yoga Teachers. Committed to teaching anatomical, alignment & action based yoga asana that is rooted in mindfulness, skillfulness, & specificity.