After all, yoga (yug = to yolk, unite) is trying to teach us that its practice is not just about “me” (the ego) or what I’m trying to achieve (the pose, breathing practice, life skill, etc.). It is about joining the two in a way that is mindful, is meaningful, and extends well beyond the yoga mat. – Leeann Carey, Founder of Yapana Yoga
On Sunday, I attended my first Laughing Lotus class since I moved back to New York. During the opening announcements, the teacher, Victor Colletti – a true teacher’s teacher – said to us all, “Every vinyasa teacher should have restorative yoga in their repertoire of tools.”
This piece of advice resonated with me. My mom started practicing yoga regularly two years after I did. While Beginner Yogi Shira gravitated towards hot power as a jumping off point, my mom began with restorative. She continues with it today, but there’s even one hot power class in her “repertoire of tools.” Seeing the transformative effects of restorative yoga on her body, and then going to some classes with her and seeing the practice’s effects on my own, I do not doubt for one second the potency of slowness, and the deep knowledge of what it means to stay in and with a given pose. Plus, after a year with an injury, restorative yoga saved my a$$. It allowed me to practice in a therapeutic way at the soonest possible opportunity. Restorative yoga…and yoga therapy, which I discovered at unfold, meet us where they are. I often say in the classes I teach that one of the things that makes the yoga practice so special is that it is one of the few forms of physical activity that is not aspirational; it is accepting of and conducive to where we are at the moment. Restorative Yoga Therapy, I learned through this Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being is a specific combination of practices that is emblematic of that fact of yoga.
In Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being, author and founder of Yapana Yoga Leeann Carey writes,
This practice meets people where they are. It is designed to encourage self-inquiry, reflection, and change, not perfection — the universe has already taken care of that part.
Restorative Yoga Therapy is a comprehensive guide. Carey is upfront at the beginning of her book, revealing that yoga is more than just asana – the physical postures – but that for the sake of simplicity (a quality she values – and it shows in the clarifying structure of her book!), she uses asana, as so many do, as the doorway to so much more. One of my first yoga teachers used to say, as she transitioned us into Supta Baddha Konasana, “We are human beings, not human doings.” Appropriately and synchronously, Carey provides instructions for what looks like a blissfully propped up Supta Baddha Konasana in the “Being” section of her book. The asanas are separated into two sections: “Being” and “Still.” I honestly had no idea how many variations of savasana there could be until I read the “Still” section of her book, and I plan to incorporate many of them into my teaching.
Yapana, an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “the support and extension of life,” inspired Carey so much that she created her own unique combination of therapeutic and restorative practice to live up to the name. She defines Yoga Therapy, an emerging discipline in this wide-reaching field, as
address[ing] the needs of of the practitioners. Yoga therapy is not solely about practicing a relaxing yoga poses. It is about rightness: using the right pose at the right time, in the right way, for the right purpose. It fulfills an intention, a purpose, and a direction. And it is a process and a road map for discovering what works for you while giving you the tools to integrate a vigilant understanding of how you do life on and off the mat.
You might ask who the intended audience of this book is. As a yoga teacher, I air on the side of hesitance to recommend asana books to my students. I know how vulnerable to injury we all are without proper instruction, alignment and even physical adjustments. But, I think that the fact that Carey includes a whole chapter dedicated to how and why to use yoga props lends a credibility that makes this book a good one for the novice, as well as the professional. However, as a yoga teacher, I would like to recommend this book to my colleagues in this field. There are an abundance of resources as to how to teach a class brimming with students. Four years into teaching yoga, nine trainings later, and being forced into physical therapy myself, I am only now beginning to discover and uncover resources for teaching to individuals. With practices that Carey somehow personalizes to a wide variety of ailments (low back pain, stress, stiff shoulders) and physical conditions that mirror the cycle of life (pregnancy, PMS, menopause), this is a great resource to start with.