Too often, we strive and strive, we judge ourselves harshly, we set expectations for our bodies that result in the accumulation of more tension and dis-ease in the body-mind-soul. Judith Lasater’s beautiful book Relax and Renew– Restful Yoga for Stressful Times provides an antidote for the yang-heavy approach to life and yoga that is so often heralded by Western culture. Relax and Renew introduces restorative yoga positions– passive approaches to postures in which the body is held by the earth and props– and suggests sequences for a variety of life’s circumstances, such as pregnancy and insomnia. I had been practicing yoga for close to ten years before I found myself in a restorative pose. The effect of being supported in matsyasana (fish) by blankets, a bolster and blocks was profound, and I immediately began to incorporate restorative postures into my practice. Restorative yoga gave me permission to truly come to a place of no effort at a time when I desperately needed rest. As I began experimenting with restorative yoga, I came across Lasater’s book, which enriched my practice from the moment I began flipping through the pages.
If you have never before found yourself cradled in your yoga, swaddled by the pose and the energy, then I highly recommend a visit to a Restorative Yoga class. If you are looking to integrate restful and restorative poses into your practice, then Lasater’s Relax & Renew is a must-have for your yoga library.