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Ahhhh: Restorative Yoga - A Q&A with Christy Newsome

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

Tell the readers a little about yourself. I found yoga over 25 years ago and have been an avid student of the yoga practice and philosophy ever since. I love to teach and want to help students find that balance of mind, body, energy, and emotions that is the true essence of yoga. I believe less is more and slow is the way to go when it comes to yoga - I want you to find a sustainable practice. I have the highest level of certification through the Yoga Alliance - ERYT-500 and am also a certified Yoga Therapist, certified through Etowah Valley Yoga. When I'm not teaching or practicing yoga, I am probably at Suntrust Park cheering on the Braves, hanging with my husband at a Smyrna restaurant (our favorite is Mezza Luna), or reading a book somewhere with a kitty. I also love to travel whenever the opportunity arises. 

How did you come to yoga? Chronic back pain and migraines led me to try yoga initially. I was an athlete all my life and my physical body paid the price. I knew I needed to find some relief that I wasn't finding with western medicine. Within months of a regular practice, I noticed that not only were my back and head better, but I felt calmer and noticed that things that usually stressed me out weren't bothering me quite as much.

What is Restorative Yoga?  Restorative yoga is the antidote to chronic stress. It is a nurturing practice that allows the body to heal and restore itself. Poses are restful and supported. I always say the poses are "enough to keep you awake but not much more." In restorative yoga, you aren't looking for big sensations in the physical body, instead you are looking for BIG release of tension and anything else that no longer serves you.

Legs up the Wall Yoga Pose
Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose)

Why do people need restorative yoga? In our society, we have glorified "busy" and our bodies are taking the toll of that mentality. There is an old story that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will immediately jump out, saving his own life. But if you put him in room temperature water and then gradually turn up the heat, he will boil to death, not realizing he is in danger until it's too late. A morbid thought for sure and I don't think I'll test it to find out if it's true (my frog phobia and love for animals will get in the way of that unnecessary experiment).  But whether the story is true or not, it's a great reminder about how stress affects our bodies. An immediate stressor will put you into "fight or flight" to deal with the situation immediately and effectively or to get you the heck outta there! The "fight or flight" response is a good thing! We are built to handle stress in the short term. But the stressors that come on slowly, stay with us constantly, and accumulate over time will begin to wreak havoc in all systems of our bodies, and we may not even notice until it’s too late. Eventually, the physical, emotional, mental, and/or energetic layers of our bodies (the koshas) start showing symptoms of chronic stress and dis-ease. If we don't take care of it, it will get worse until it's too late. Because of all of this, we need restorative yoga!

Who can take restorative yoga? Everyone! It's a hard practice because we are so used to "doing" instead of "being." So it takes time and a regular practice to cultivate the stillness and quietude in the body and begin to notice the wonderful benefits. It's a wonderful complementary practice to vinyasa or power yoga classes. Think of it as a balancing out of your mind, body, and spirit. The working and then the nurturing. The yang and then the yin (not Yin Yoga - which is a different practice altogether - but yin, as in the calming, cooling, relaxing part of your practice).

What should people expect when coming to restorative yoga? You can expect for all poses to be on the floor and supported with lots of props (blankets, blocks, bolsters, sandbags, etc). You can also expect for your mind to chatter as soon as the body slows down. So you'll begin to learn techniques to not entertain the thoughts that come in. Guided or mantra meditations might be part of the practice and calming breath practices - as a way to keep yourself in the present moment. You might also get chilly, so it's nice to layer clothing and bring socks.

Supported restorative twist
Supported restorative twist

Primary benefits? Allowing the parasympathetic nervous system (aka "rest & digest") to kick in through restorative poses aids in: * healing of body, mind, emotions, energy * deep relaxation * quieting of the mind

* helping you feel safe and nurtured * increased breath awareness * increased interoceptive awareness * increased energy throughout your day * better sleep * reduced muscle tension * better digestion * weight loss

Why do you love teaching restorative yoga? I hear such amazing stories of healing. Regular students tell me how great they are sleeping, how their muscle (and other) pain has diminished, and how they feel calmer. It's that look of total relaxation on the faces of my students at the end of class that keeps me coming back. I also receive wonderful energy from students while they are in restorative postures.

What's your favorite restorative yoga pose? Supported fish (salamba matsyasana). Anyone who takes my classes regularly knows how much I love this pose (even my vinyasa students). I do this pose myself every day. It's the ultimate anti-21st century pose that counteracts all of the rounding forward we do with texting, working on the computer, driving, reading, etc. That rounding takes a toll on not only the muscles of the back and chest, but also the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Even just a gentle lift of the chest with a small pillow or rolled blanket can help the upper back, neck, and shoulders to relax and release and the chest to gently stretch.

Supported Fish Yoga Pose
Salamba Matsyasana (Supported Fish) - Kitty Optional
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