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April 27, 2015
Yoga is not a one-size fits-all form of exercise. It is a practice that fits everybody regardless of age or condition at the time that they want to practice. The student must find a style that most fits their personality or their needs to get the greatest benefit. If you go to a bookstore or look on the web under "yoga", you will see a vast collection of yoga books and styles. The styles most frequently mentioned are Ashtanga, Bikram, Iyengar, Kripalu, Kundalini and Viniyoga as these are the most popular in the West. All of these styles have their own philosophical basis as conceived by their individual creator. One in particular, Iyengar (B.K.S. Iyengar of Pune, India) conceived of yoga as an art and a science in which props can be used to assist the student in performing a posture regardless of his/her limitations or condition. Consequently, restorative yoga, which relies heavily on props such as blankets, cushions and pillows as well as the floor, is rooted in the Iyengar tradition.
I believe that restorative yoga was really the brainchild of a blanket and bolster manufacturer in India who was facing bankruptcy and suffered from great worry and stress. Fortunately, he practiced Iyengar yoga and thought, well if I can use blocks, straps and chairs why can't I use my blankets and pillows to heal myself? And so he did. Using his sturdiest blankets, his finest pillows and the floor, he created a soft comforting environment allowing his body to heal. Once his stress was reduced, he focused on getting out the message about his discovery to the thousands of townspeople. People flocked to his tiny shop to buy the blankets and bolsters and very soon he was able to pay off his debts and reduce his stress completely. Sounds like a yogic fairy tale and maybe it is, but this little tale may be closer to the truth than we know.
Lying on the floor enveloped in pillows and blankets in Savasana creates the feeling of expanded space and peace, thus reducing chronic stress. Thus, yoga therapy promotes natural healing. Dr. S. V. Karandikar of Pune, India (who studied with Iyengar) observed, "As we grow older our body shrinks and the spaces between the body tissues and the skeletal joints decrease. This anatomical distortion leads to physiological dysfunction, resulting in pathological changes. The regular practice of yoga stretches and strengthens the different muscle groups and creates space in the body. This helps to bring back to normal the physiological functioning of the different anatomical systems, which enables nature to re-arrange and repair the diseased parts of the body the natural way."
April 27, 2015
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