I’ve discovered so much calmness, relaxation and healing through my yoga practise that I had to share this. I’ve loved doing yoga for many years now but the yoga styles I’ve found in the last year have changed how I view my practise.
I used to see it as stretching, strength and flexibility. I enjoyed what my body could do and pushing myself, because this is by no means an easy exercise choice. I find it challenging but rewarding and always end a class on a high.
I’ve always done Hatha yoga but recently found Restorative, Yin Yoga and Somatic movement. I wanted to understand more about these different styles of yoga and share it with you guys so I hope you enjoy this blog post with some interviews and videos from my amazing yoga teachers.
Restorative yoga for eczema and TSW
My yoga teacher Tawny started offering Restorative yoga classes a few years ago. It made sense, we all love that relaxation part of the class at the start and finish and I have often wished there could be more of that in each class.
The first restorative yoga class I did was deep into TSW and I was itchy, itchy, itchy… so red, sore, swollen, not sleeping and did I mention itchy?
Sometimes I would really struggle to do yoga without being completely distracted, waiting for a break in a posture so I could scratch. Restorative practice seemed to take me away into a calm, peaceful and safe place. Not every time, and sometimes only for snatches of time, but I saw what it could do.
It consists of gentle supported postures using blocks, bolsters, blankets, eye pillows and straps to explore different relaxing positions without any pushing, holding, effort or tension. I found them so relaxing and fell asleep snoring a few times (very embarrassing). But at that time I wasn’t sleeping much at night and getting by on about 2-3 hours sleep so I really needed it.
I realised that it was OK to just be. You didn’t have to always be active, strong and challenge your body. Mine needed nurturing, self love and self care and this discovery came at about the same time that I realised I had very little empathy for myself.
I find restorative yoga to be a nurturing, comforting, warm and healing place. Doing some restorative postures before bed can really help ease you into the right frame of mind to sleep. Here’s Tawny, talking about restorative yoga…
Check out Tawny’s website to find out more.
I went on a yoga retreat just before Lockdown which was organised by Tawny (my lovely yoga teacher) and her yoga colleague Gabi. It was a blissful idyll packed with yoga, good food and meditation and there was one thing that stuck with me. Somatic movement.
I’ll let Gabi explain it below, but what I understood it to be was to listening to your body and moving how it needs to move. We started on our hands and knees and just tried to feel the music. It was a bit weird at first but once you got into it it was very freeing and centering. With eyes closed we just moved and tested out bodies. Did our back ache or knees feel stiff? Was our neck sore? Whatever movement felt good you explored and it was amazing how fast the time passed
Gabi explains it better than I can, “SOMATIC movement is not really yoga – it is a form of movement which focuses on the intention of the internal experience or feeling of moving vs the external experience or result of movement. There are different forms of somatic movement and one is The Non Linear Movement Method which I shared with you.“
Gabriella Espinosa, Yoga teacher. Follow her on instagram or check out her website www.gabriellaespinosa.com
Here is the link to the NLMM website which explains this form of movement.
By far the most challenging yoga practise I’ve done and I’ve tried Asthtanga. With Yin Yoga you explore discomfort and hold positions for longer than you do in normal yoga classes.
You shouldn’t feel pain or push yourself into positions, but instead reach your ‘place’ and hold. It really is tough, your brain is screaming, stop! Stop now! Stretch… I don’t like it! Stop!
But by working through, breathing and trying to relax those unhappy muscles you can reach deeper levels of calm and understanding.
I wonder if this resonates with me so much because for so long I’ve lived with a level of discomfort and pain. And often I can’t ignore the itch and give in to the need to tear at the skin.
What Yin teaches us is to sit with discomfort. To hold, breathe and explore what you can do if you ignore that discomfort and stay.
It’s definitely helping me to be calmer, to be OK with the sensations that rip through my body and to sometimes find a better way to cope with itching. And certainly while I’m doing a Yin Yoga class I have no time to even think about scratching.
I discovered Yin quite by accident at my local yoga studio, Yin & Yoga in the next village to where I live. Everyone there has been so welcoming and kind because some days I was turning up bandaged, itchy, red faced and self conscious. No one said a thing, no comments, but they have been so supportive.
A recent Yin practice focused on Yin healing for the skin and it really blew me away. I’ve asked my lovely yoga teacher Tessa to explain it all a bit more below. Here is Tessa, explaining Yin Yoga much better than I can.
Check out the Yin and Yoga studio website here.
I’ve really loved researching this blog post and would like to thank Gabi, Tawny and Tessa for being so open and giving their time for free to chat to me.
If you would like to explore some kind of yoga retreat where we explore skin health in more depth and immerse ourselves in yoga, learning about the practise, meditation, skin care and nutrition please comment below. If enough people are interested we can make that happen.
Please share your experiences below. Do you practise yoga? Does it help you? or is this something you’ve never tried before?