The Real Yoga Revolution

I think the real yoga revolution is a quiet one. Literally. The athletic yoga classes–power, vinyasa, hot, etc.–are certainly calming and can feel wonderful if you have the energy for them.

What’s sticking in my mind, though, is something my teacher, Bernie, said in a Restorative Yoga training last spring, that practicing restorative yoga is revolutionary. It was incongruous, to say that this act of doing so little can rise to that much significance. The more I think about it, though, the more right I think Bernie is.

The quieter flavors of yoga–gentle, yin, restorative, and a few others–are revolutionary practices. I think that the yoga we have here in the West has been largely westernized–filtered through our collective fixations with exercise, burning calories, and being thin and beautiful. These slower practices burn very few calories, and are often only a little more active than a nap.

I’m so inclined to follow up here with a “but! look at all the amazing benefits you can reap from these things!” because that’s how my head goes. I’m not going to list the benefits of restorative yoga here. Or yin. Or gentle yoga. You can google them as easily as I can.

These practices are revolutionary because taking the time out of our day or week for ourselves, to rest, is just not done. It’s weird. What are we doing? Shouldn’t we be getting stuff done?

My bathroom isn’t clean. The laundry is piling up. I have a dozen calls to return and a pile of paperwork to slog through…

Quiet yoga doesn’t care. Quiet yoga won’t check anything off your list. By prioritizing this quiet and rest, we take the position that we don’t need to Do All The Things to be worthwhile. It’s OK for us to not do anything sometimes. Practicing quiet yoga says that we are more than a collection of accomplishments. We don’t lose value as people if we choose to do less. Maybe to relax on Monday evenings.

Quiet yoga says, what would happen if we stepped off the hamster wheel and only got back on when we felt like it? What would that be like?

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