The Wisdom Within
By Suzette Scholtes
Quiet, Still, Warm, Safe, and Dark
“ It’s impossible to feel anxious and relaxed at the same time.”
Judith Hansen Lasater, from workshop lecture in K.C.
As Solstice draws near, this year December 21, the rhythm of the Earth draws me into the quiet. Some may choose to become quiet by sleeping more. This is one way to rest and but it is “unconscious” rest. Conscious rest or yogic rest has many benefits.
The great yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar said that American’s most difficult yoga pose is savasana or relaxation pose. Sadly, I hear all the time that those taking yoga classes in gyms or community centers get near the end of class and the instructor the last five or so minutes says lay down and relax.
Seldom does one relax enough in five minutes. It takes as long as ten if not l5 minutes for most to slow down the thinking, balance left to right brain, restore the nervous system, slow the heart beat, bring more blood and oxygen into your body and by the end feel absolutely fantastic!
Well-trained yogis know the techniques such as Judith Lasater, who has said it for decades: Become “Quiet, Warm, Still, Safe and Dark.” The author of Relax and Renew, and founder of Yoga Journal, Judith came to KC for her annual October visit with these words leading the workshop: “Love and honor yourself enough to become quiet, warm, still and dark.” She says minimum of l0 minutes but better l5. Whether you choose to rest in savasana (relaxation) or a restorative pose care about the practice enough to learn from a professional or a reliable source.
For teacher’s training, in my opinion, the best savasana instructions come from the book Yoga a Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar where she writes a six-page instruction how to relax consciously. This is for one pose! It is an art as well as science so to expect someone to lie down and learn to relax after years of tension build-up is probably not going to happen!
I know some who claim they teach “restorative” yoga are doing so without yoga props such as blankets and bolsters. How can it be restorative without the right supports? Either find the books written by this master or ensure your instructor is certified. Without proper support, alignment, and instruction, the powerful healing benefits may be missed. Most common is failing to cover the eyes with a cloth or eye cover. If light hits the eye, the optic nerve fires and the brain will not relax.
Do you say “I do not enough time?” Everyone’s key stress is “not enough time.” Is that really so? What do you spend your time doing? That is what you value. Do you really not have l0 minutes to give to yourself? Research shows you are more productive & creative when you rest.
Five Fundamentals of Restorative Yoga
- Environment: quiet room, etc. l0-15 minutes to relax deep
- Darkness (or cover your eyes to soothe nervous system)
- Need warm hands and feet….bundle up with cotton blankets.
- Core body temperature needs to drop to create the relaxation response (think of feeling warm when you go to bed and how you reach for covers later in the night.)
- Position of head reticulates to recline of about 30 degrees (add pillows or blankets to keep forehead higher than chin and neck supported to create 30 degree angle.)
Three Pillars of Restorative Yoga for Teachers
- Observation (see the student aligned, supported, relaxed, quiet, etc.)
- Support Everything – even wrists, hands, arms, necks….everything.
- Hold Compassion--root of all teaching
The Yoga School has moved to south Overland Park! (One MILE east of Quivira on l03rd Street. Suzette Scholtes serves as director of teacher’s training for the school, now over two decades serving the Midwest. Contact her at (9l3) 492-9594 or Suzette@Everestkc.net.
Restorative Pose called Reclining Cobbler with correct head angle and neck,
arm, leg and back support. This pose reduces anxiety and stress.`