Hello beautiful souls! I hope that this blog finds you well. I’m sitting down to write, having just finished a one hour restorative yoga class led by my dear friend and soul sister, Emmie Rae (@thedailyrest on IG).
I’ve been waiting to share more about this practice with you for quite some time.; wanting to find a — real-time/post-class/quieted-down nervous system /moment — to reflect and share about how restorative yoga has become one of the most sacred parts of my soul-care routine and has changed my life. I am so happy that moment arrived today!
I had to go back nearly a decade in my memory to recall my first exposure to restorative yoga. A weekly class was being offered through the gym at my undergraduate college, in a windowless basement room of the parking garage. Looking back, I can clearly see that the intuitive part of my soul was guiding me toward the resources to create quiet and calm I so desperately needed.
However, in that moment, I remember attending the class by myself and felt distracted by the environment that seemed like the opposite of being conducive to a relaxing experience. To be honest, I was even a little bit confused by my desire and motivation to attend in the first place. Unfamiliar with the concept of mindfulness, I spent the majority of the time in class wrestling with racing thoughts and wondering if everyone else in the room was having the same experience inside of their silence.
I struggled to rest my awareness on my breath and had no idea that I could learn to observe my thoughts instead of becoming entangled in them. I often felt like my attempts to relax would produce the opposite result — yet, something in my heart kept pulling me back.
Despite the fact that I wasn’t getting the desired outcome from restorative yoga (i.e. feeling calm and restored) — I doggedly continued attending classes throughout my time in college in search of the peace restorative yoga promised.
So many common yoga practices, and exercise in general, were rapidly removed from my list of options for self-care because of the high toll that attending classes or engaging in cardio activities could have on my pain levels and my nervous system.
However, as my health continued to decline — restorative and ‘yin’ yoga continued to be resources that were physically accessible. With increasing pain and dis-ease in my body, I was forced to confront the mental challenges that practicing restorative yoga had presented me with in class so many years before.
I knew from somewhere deep inside myself, that if I could learn to be with my thoughts, and shift my mental experience during restorative yoga classes, it could be helpful to my overall sense of well-being — but I I had no idea where to start.
Over the course of many years, I started to build a mindfulness practice and continued dabbling in many different restorative yoga practices. I attended some classes in person, others online and even went so far as to work with a medical yoga instructor who came to my apartment and did “house-call” yoga lessons.
I was intent on expanding my ability to be with my body while it was enduring whatever it was enduring. The combination of mindfulness and restorative yoga felt like a path that could lead me there.
Wrangling my racing mind enough to truly enjoy an hour of restorative yoga, especially alongside physical discomfort, seemed like a lofty goal. But I was committed to reaching a state of inner calm, so I kept moving in that direction — trusting that every single second of practicing both restorative yoga and mindfulness was bringing me closer to the peace and quiet in which I so wanted to rest.
6 months ago, when I stumbled upon @thedailyrest, my restorative yoga journey started to blossom. In a most accidental way, I finally found what I had been searching for over the course of many years and and an endless array of resources. Emmie, a yoga teacher living in Australia, offered a free restorative yoga IGTV class on her profile.
After the class, I felt called to work with her and reached out immediately. It was almost an out of body experience — I felt a “yes” in my mind, body and soul — nudging me forward with complete confidence that pursuing this type of practice was the right thing, for right now.
Even though I didn’t know her (yet), hadn’t done any research (very off brand for Natalie) and wasn’t necessarily looking for a private yoga teacher — every part of me was telling me to move forward and work together
After we connected and talked a bit about her offerings, we set up a program where I would receive 1 on 1 restorative yoga classes every 2 weeks for 3 months. At that time, I couldn’t have imagined how integral these classes would become in my soul-care and self-care routine.
The classes offered a container of gentle presence where I was able to clarify an intention to truly slow my inner world; something I hadn’t yet articulated as a crucial part of offering myself love and care on a daily basis. Through Emmie’s beautiful recordings, I found I could finally relax into restorative yoga in the ways I had wanted to for years.
I’ve taken her classes many times now, through all kinds of “symptom states” — low pain, sensory overwhelm, high pain, lingergraine — you name it. Her expert guidance is so gentle, so calming and so authentic that no matter what kind of day I am having or whatever I am experiencing, her classes can meet me exactly where I am. For me, this seems like the truest embodiment of restorative yoga.
Restorative yoga has become a sacred space I return to often to feel held and comfy and cozy. The practice places great emphasis on removing physical “effort” through supportive props (think lots of pillows and blankets) and inviting your nervous system to release, relax and let go (even alongside a chatty, scattered mind).
Practicing restorative yoga from the cozy sanctuary of my bedroom is part of what has allowed me to drop into the practice so deeply. As the practice encourages, I cocoon myself in comfort — a weighted lavender pillow to cover my eyes in each pose, socks or slippers keeping my feet warm, my weighted blanket, gentle lighting (flameless candles or real candles), essential oils diffusing — pulling out all the stops to create a nest of soft, comfy things to reach for throughout class.
Restorative yoga has become one of the most effective ways I communicate safety and calm to my body and nervous system. By combining a carefully curated, cozy physical environment with gentle, supportive movement and breathwork — I’m able to mindfully witness moments and thoughts and encase them in compassion. I have been able to learn and strengthen the sacred ritual of creating an inner calm that can reassure me that I am safe, held and cared for — even during high pain.
As I continue to build my toolbox and find refuge in my inner world, I know my relationship with restorative yoga will continue to deepen and grow. I am so grateful to the part of me that has nudged me toward this practice for so many years, trusting that the commitment and effort would be well worth it once I could learn to rest inside my own silence.
I’ll forever be grateful to Emmie for being the teacher who truly guided me toward the gates of my inner palace of peace and has been such an impactful mentor and friend on my journey.
I am excited beyond words to invite her to be the first ever guest on my Instagram IGTV to share this beautiful practice with all of you. It feels very “full circle”, being the same medium which led me to connect with her, and I’m so excited to share it as a tool for healing that can meet you exactly where you are in your journey.
Nothing but love,
I share each step along my road to wellness and healing and hope that in doing so I can inspire you along your own path. Thank you so much for being here.