Stretching into the New Year with Restorative Yoga

Stretching into the New Year with Restorative Yoga
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Well, it’s officially 2020! It feels odd to say that. Then again, I’m pretty sure I said the same thing back in 2000 and 2010, so I digress. To wrap up 2019, I tried a new activity that I found both beneficial and enjoyable — yoga.

My extended family traditionally comes together in the Greater Boston area between Christmas and New Year’s. My uncle’s girlfriend, Meredith, is a yoga instructor as well as a vegan, and we’ve had some fascinating conversations about diet since I learned that I’m lactose intolerant. We’ve also discussed body mechanics and movement. Yoga has always piqued my curiosity, but I hadn’t tried it because I’d been concerned it wouldn’t work out well for my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

Although Meredith wasn’t teaching classes during my few days there, she found a great class at a studio she frequents and asked if anyone wanted to go. A whole group of us wound up going!

The class guided us through restful, restorative yoga by candlelight. This type of yoga sharply contrasts with styles of strength-building, uber-flexible yoga. Restorative yoga is all about quieting the body and mind while enjoying passive, gentle stretching. As someone who struggles with anxiety — which commonly accompanies EDS — staying in various stretching poses for prolonged periods didn’t seem like the best activity for me. Surprisingly, though, I enjoyed it.

One appreciated aspect was the instructor’s insistence that there is no right or wrong in restorative yoga, and that we should use any props or make any adjustments necessary to find a comfortable, relaxing pose. The idea of there being no right or wrong opened up an intriguing idea to me: For once, I didn’t have to make alienating changes and concessions due to my EDS. Rather, a core point of restorative yoga is for each person to find their comfort area and just roll with it, meaning that I wasn’t actually different than everyone else!

That was refreshing. While I’ve gotten used to simply modifying my activities to fit the limitations of life with EDS, it was so nice to be “the same” as everyone else in the class. Some people made adjustments because their muscles were very tight, others had arthritis, and still others simply didn’t find some poses comfortable. All that didn’t matter.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do yoga again, but I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into learning about this new opportunity.

Do you practice restorative yoga? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

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