Huffpost Canada ca
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Amy Sky Headshot

Why I Love Restorative Yoga: No Pain, All Gain

Posted: Updated:
YOGA AND STRESS

"The Power of Now"

Olivia Newton-John/Amy Sky

I believe I believe
In the power of now
I believe I will see
If I let go somehow
To be here in this moment
Is all that I ask
In the heart of forever
No future no past
I believe, I believe


In the blink of an eye
In the palm of my hand
In the ocean so wide
In a small grain of sand....

OK I'll admit it. I'm one of those people who goes to yoga class and keeps sneaking peeks at the clock to see how many minutes left until shavasana; until I can lie in corpse pose, and just breathe and relax. I saw an ad for a yoga studio recently that said "Man up! Mat down." Me, I'm from the "Mat down! Pass out" tribe. Thankfully, I'm not a shavasana snorer, but there does seem to be someone in every class, who instantly starts sawing z's when it's time to get horizontal.

It's not that I don't enjoy other kinds of yoga but let's be honest, it hurts! I mean, As John Mellencamp would say, "It hurts so good", but it still hurts. And I know, my fellow yogis and yoginis, that where the pain begins is where the yoga starts, but sometimes I just want to release stress and not be in pain while I do it.

I need yoga, though -- no question. Though my twin jobs as writer and songwriter might not seem to have occupational hazards, when you spend hours either sitting in front of a computer or a piano, you get repetitive stress injuries. My forearms twinge with keyboard-induced carpal tunnel, the foreshortened hamstrings from sitting all day make my lower back ache.

And then there are the worry muscles. The levator scapulae muscles contract in my neck as my shoulders unconsciously inch towards my ears with every stressful thought. And as any chiropractor will tell you, neck pain follows contracted shoulders like regret follows Haagen Daaz.

All day long, our litany of stressors can keep our sympathetic nervous system on high alert. That is the part of our body that controls our heart, lungs, muscles and digestion. With the elevated levels of stress caused by our over-booked lives, it's like having our own personal 911 team on call all day long. All our fight-or-flight responses remain at the ready, causing increased heart beat, digestion problems, tensed muscles... it's exhausting!

I try and remember to breathe deeply throughout the day, but for me that's kind of just like sending the EMTs on coffee break. After they knock back a double-double and a Timbit, they are back on the job on high alert. So I understand how important it is to include in my daily activity something that induces the "relaxation response."

Enter restorative yoga. My masseuse has been trying to get me to go for years, but when she told me you hold poses for up to five minutes, I thought she was either nuts or had confused me for yoga diva Jennifer Aniston. Mind you I can see why. Other than her killer bod and the multi-million dollar house in Malibu we are virtually interchangeable... NOT!

Five minutes! I'm happy if I can get through five breaths in downward dog. Anyway, luckily, I decided to finally try a class and I discovered a world of centering, calming and deep but gentle stretching. When I heard that the class involved the use of "props" (bolsters, straps, blocks and blankets) it sounded vaguely like S&M. But in reality, the props allow your body to be fully supported other than the knots you are trying to release.

It's like a turbo-charged shavasana. When your teacher has good taste in soothing music to boot, it is a heavenly body, mind, and spirit treat. Or should I say lack of mind. Allowing the tension to drain away, without pain, cushioned by the supportive and ergonomic props allows your mind to calm and focus, like a butterfly resting on a blade of grass.

All we have in life is this moment. But if we can't turn down the volume we can't always feel it as it whooshes past us. We need to remember where zero is; calm mind, calm body, calm spirit. If we can fully feel the beauty of the power of now, then our reward is to carry it with us through the rest of the day, and know how to easily access it whenever it slips away.

Let zero be your hero!

In the absence of time
On the edge of the blade
Let the blossom unfold
Through the nights velvet cape
I believe I believe
In the power of now
I believe I will see
If I let go somehow
To be here in this moment
Is all that I ask
In the heart of forever
No future no past
I believe, I believe

Amy Sky is an EMI Records recording artist and mental health advocate. Her new CD and book "Alive and Awake" will be released later this year.

To join her mailing list please go to the guestbook at www.amysky.com

To download "The Power of Now" from "Grace and Gratitude Renewed" by Olivia Newton-John please visit www.amysky.bandcamp.com.

Around the Web

Yoga Journal - Yoga Practice - Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga for Body and Mind - Beliefnet.com