As you read in your RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE textbook, B.K.S. Iyengar’s teachings helped to develop Restorative Yoga. In his text, The Light on Yoga, he said, “The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yui meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. It means union or communication, It is true union of our will with the will of God.” When the word “God” is used, it is not in relation to religion, as Yoga is not a religion. It can be looked at to mean the higher self or love. Through this definition you can start to understand the concepts of a Restorative Yoga practice. Its not just about the asanas and getting in and out of them, its about the connection between the physical practice and your mind as well as the ability to focus your mind so that you can understand your body.
Having an understanding of Yogic Philosophy and this ancient practice as a whole, also allows you to better understand the different styles that have been developed over the years. Although the original Yogic practices are still being followed by many, Yoga still continues to grow and evolve as more and more students study its philosophies and practices. For example, since the 80s, over 50 styles of Yoga have been founded. Restorative Yoga is one of those styles.
As you would have covered in your previous training(s) (either with us or another school), Yoga has many different lineages and there are many paths or roads to get to the same place. According to the Indian yogic tradition, there are three prominent paths: Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. Even though each path has a different focus, they all lead to the same end — yoga, or union/communication with your higher self and love. With this understanding of the end focus of Yoga, you can build an even firmer foundation on your understanding of how Restorative Yoga was developed. B.K.S. Iyengar developed the foundation of this style as a more direct way to connect your mind and body, and in turn, restore your energies and health.
At its heart, Restorative Yoga is the art of relaxation. In today’s world stress is experienced on a number of different levels, and can sometimes be unknown as to why we are stressing or that we are even stressed. Stress weakens the body and can be the cause of many degenerative diseases. By practicing and teaching Restorative Yoga, you are arming you and your students with the tools they need to relax and consciously build your ability to do so. There are many benefits of practicing Restorative Yoga and having a consistent practice physically, however, it also helps us mentally as well as helps us live our lives with more compassion and clarity.
As you continue through this course you will find that Restorative Yoga is really about each individual student and what he or she needs from their practice. Restorative Yoga helps individuals relax as well as assist them more by intimately connecting the mind and body while being supported with various props. The purpose is that, in the end, you and your students will find a place of tranquility and peace, not to fall asleep, but to become more aware of one’s mind and body. This bring what Iyengar called “True Alignment” by aligning ones self and balancing the energy within.
**To learn more about B.K.S. Iyengar, his life’s work and his approach to Yoga, you can read:
- In the textbook “YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH by B.K.S. Iyengar, read the below sections.
- CHAPTER 1: B.K.S. IYENGAR’S LIFE AND WORK
- Iyengar the Guru
- The Iyengar Approach to Yoga
- The Iyengar Legacy
- Message from B.K.S. Iyengar