My friend talked me into joining a restorative yoga class. She’s the type of person that falls asleep anywhere. She once fell asleep in the waiting room at a spa. We hadn’t even made it into the relaxation room. A whiff of lavender, some soothing music and she was gone so I was a little skeptical when she extolled the virtues of a two-hour session, on the benefits of calming the busy mind, boosting the immune system, releasing muscular tension, and aiding restful sleep. Also, it was a Friday night.
After a week of school-runs, taxiing kids to various activities, all I wanted was to lounge in front of the tv in my pyjamas. Instead, the rest of the family huddled around the fire while Jungle Cruise blared from the tv as I shrugged into my coat, pulled my hat low over my ears, ignoring the shouts of laughter and shivered out into the darkness.
The yoga studio was lit by candlelight and the flames flickered, casting dancing shadows along the walls. Mats were lined alongside the walls making a rectangular shape around the room. Rugs and cushions were placed on each mat inviting us into the sanctuary. The overall effect was warm and welcoming. Shedding my sneakers and outerwear in the hallway I let go of the effort it took to get there and parked my inner baggage at the door.
Choosing my mat, I settled into a cross-legged position, inhaling and exhaling, becoming more aware of my breath, travelling in through my nose and filling my lungs to capacity, and vowed to try and remain in the moment throughout the session. People of all shapes and sizes filtered in. Once we were all settled, the yoga instructor talked us through the routine in her soothing, chocolatey voice.
There were six different poses, each stretching different parts of the body. Using bolsters and cushions we arranged ourselves into position and covered with blankets and eye pillows, we breathed deeply, listening to the warm, comforting tones of the instructor as she walked us through mindfulness practices.
I became less aware of the sound of other’s breathing, and more in tune with my own. A tingling sensation started at the top of my head trickling through my body, down my torso to my toes as my muscles relaxed. Any time my mind wandered I brought it back to the moment and towards the end of each pose I languorously stretched to roll into the next one. The demands of life melted away. By Shavasana, I was deliciously slumberous and could have snoozed on, cocooned in a blanket, feeling cosy and safe.
Unsurprisingly, I had to nudge my friend awake. I wasn’t even sure she had done any of the poses, so focused was I on my own practice, but I nodded emphatically when she posed the question. Feeling invigorated we donned our belongings and headed back into the darkness, promising ourselves we’d sign up for another few stolen hours of sanctuary.