An amazing experience of restorative yoga and a gong bath at Notley Yoga Centre.
I had never heard of let alone experienced Restorative Yoga and quiet naively even after booking didn’t actually click that restorative yoga was an actual thing. Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga these yoga’s were the ones I had heard of, so in my mind, it was just the title and focus of the workshop. As I read the content of the reminder email I received on the Monday before the workshop, informing me that Using props e.g. Bolsters, blocks, blankets and sandbags we will marinade in each posture for at least five minutes, allowing the body and mind to surrender, I instantly had images of 5 minutes holding warrior one followed by a thought well that’s one hell of a way to surrender alright. After actually experiencing the workshop I can’t help but look back and smile fondly at the way my mind had cunningly focused only the familiar rather than the unfamiliar in the email. The fact that at this point I hadn’t even clocked the ‘bolsters, blocks, blankets and sandbags’ detail add more to my fond amusement, especially as upon arrival at Notley and selecting my mat each of these items became quite a puzzle to me.
Living in Mistley and still relatively new to the Essex County (if you can call yourself new after living somewhere for over a year) I had never been to Notley before, and it all added to my Sunday afternoon adventure as I jumped into the car and headed off ready to connect with my inner zen. The drive just added to my snoozy Sunday escapade as I meandered through White Notley, Black Notely, spying the village pubs, quaint cottages and admiring the road lined with the autumn trees a magnificent display of orange, yellow and greens, and not missing the little pheasant taking a Sunday stroll in the open fields, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.
Arriving at Notley Yoga Centre, I smiled again as I approach the door and saw the sign to take off your shoes and leave your egos at the door. This is my sort of place I thought to myself as I slipped off my pumps and walked into the studio the aroma and incense hitting my nostrils as the meditation music softly filled my ears like a warm hug that said ‘Welcome, pick your mat, you are here to relax’.
Taking in the studio and the gongs poised patiently at the front of the class my curiosity was sparked instantly by the huge cylindrical bolster cushions and the purple sandbags. Introducing myself to Leigh the Yoga Instructor and confirming that this was my first time, my answer to the question have you done any restorative yoga before was ‘In what sense?’. If I am honest I had no idea what I was thinking, and no doubt this was my relaxed ‘I have no idea what you are talking about poker face response’. Leigh’s response with a smile confirmed that she knew I had no idea what to expect as she informed me ‘Well you won’t be getting off the floor’, Oh, ok, bring it on, I replied as I felt my body sink into the mat below me as settled myself in to surrender my body, mind and soul to yoga and the sound of the gongs. I picked up the paper under my mat and quietly took out my pen as I detailed what I would be letting go of this autumn.
Restorative Yoga for those of you who like me don’t know what it is, is actually the centering of your breath and body. It is a process of passive, easy movement, aligning the physical and mental by practicing stillness or gentle movement for extended periods of time. Feeling the grounding support of the universe as you breathe into a posture that you hold passively, without any effort, for a maximum of 5 minutes whilst breathing easily with your eyes closed. The props, aka bolsters, blocks and sandbags are on hand to assist in holding poses longer, whilst supporting you to fully relax into a pose without any pressure on your body… a true treat for your parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging that soft rest and digest response.
Three words to best describe this experience oneness, calm, and peace. Each moment from start to finish was an energetically charged treat for my body, mind and soul. It truly was something special, 16 souls joining together with Leigh to surrender, reconnect, and show some self-love away from the bustle of everyday life and responsibility.
I enjoy yoga, I love that moment when you find the pose that feels good and everything within you aligns and your body smiles. Well for me and my body this was like sitting and watching the water on a summers day as the sun shines and sparkles across the surface, each poses softly easing into place, your body settling and sparkling as you align in just the right way to allow energy to vibrate gently through you. With each new spark prompting the rejuvenating benefits of the practice. And each pose is followed by a pause, a moment of complete stillness and presence to feel your body, check in on your mind and emotion and re-focus on your intention for the practice.
And then came the gongs… WOW! What an incredible magnificent sound as I lay in savasana, my cosy cardigan wrapped around me and my legs supported by the bolster. Surrendering and welcoming the love and light to flow to me and through me out into the world blessing those who need it, a celebration of human connection and oneness. The vibrations of the gongs ran through my body, taking with them any unrequired energies, and cleansing my mind and soul, lifting me to a place of bright light and stillness. 45 minutes taking it all in and going where my mind took me, floating beyond the studio and my mat ascending to a mountaintop, where I could touch the clouds and feel the sun on my face, pure bliss. Safe, secure, grounded and supported, the words of Gabrielle Bernstein were in my mind as I relaxed knowing that the universe truly does have my back. Releasing any fear and hesitation I decided then and there to surrender fully to the guidance of the universe as my journey continues to unfold and I continue to grow. No more will I ponder on what could be or hesitate when instinct tells me to act. Instead I will continue proudly on my quest creating the life I was placed on this earth to lead, with hope in my heart and the belief in my soul that one person can make a change in this world and help others to see how powerful and wonderful they truly are, spreading love and bringing dreams to life, one smile at a time.
Keep your eyes peeled for more details on my Reignite your Personal Power Workshop, BEING RELEASED NEXT WEEK, to be delivered from Notley Yoga Centre on the 19th January 2019. A sure way to make 2019 the year that you transform your life and step into your time to shine. Can't wait? Email me for more details.