Classical + Therapeutic Restorative
True Identity Restorative Yoga
*SELF-EST. STYLE by HIIRO PRINCE*:
*PLEASE SEE ALL VARIATIONS
OF THESE STYLES *
Therapeutic Restorative Yoga
A wide-spectrum practice that offers the body/mind/heart an “Active/Focused/Passive“ experience that is part stretch, part release and part complete rest.
The ‘Active‘ phase is to awaken the relationship of trust and letting go of control with your Ego or Self performance through befriending the body:
(simple stretches fusing breath and movements anyone can achieve with no failure).
This can (but not limited to) include elements of Gentle or Standard Hatha yoga asanas with the props to modify the bearing of weight or strain in the body.
The “Focused” stage begins to target the mind’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, judgments, action urges and anything else logically / analytically based. Through more continued supported poses with less activity then the “Active” portion, you can expect a combination of holding a fixed shape with passive and active releases and dialogue or conversational thematic content which will ‘focus or provoke’ your mind to question, think and investigate the purpose of ‘WHY‘ you are ‘here.”
The final phase is the “Passive” which focuses right on the Heart and Emotion Body through 100% fully supported Restorative poses that can range from ONE 2-sided pose followed by a supported Savasana…
OR a mini restorative sequence you would have in a classical traditional class to compliment the Active Physical Body / Focused Mind and Emotional Heart.
The poses performed in class are low-stress if any at all and incorporate props (Bolsters, Blankets, Straps, Blocks, Eye Pillows, Dowelings, Myofascial Release Balls, Foam Rollers).
CLASSICAL RESTORATIVE YOGA:
Unlike the multi-dimensional approach of Therapeutic Restorative, Classical Restorative emphasizes on the sheer action doing (almost) NOTHING the entire practice. The main goal of this restorative practice is to activate the “Natural Relaxation Response” of the Central Nervous System (CNS) AND eliminate the unbalance of our Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight/Flight/Freeze/Submit Responses) as it is usually more activated in a ‘Yang’ natured yoga or athletic practice.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is the more sedating and neutralizing component to the other half of your CNS and when they aren’t in sync, neither is your emotional, physical, mental, spiritual or astral body. HOW do we achieve this balance of neutrality IN the CNS and Natural Relaxation Response?
The beginning of the practice may or may not include a guided meditation in which sets the bhava (mood) and theme for the class and through this the body will subtly experience 5 different poses in which flex, extend, rotate/twist and invert the SPINE! The spinal cord stems from the base of the tailbone or coccyx (c1) and travels through the Lumbar – Thoracic – Cervical Spine (neck) into your brainstem!
In other words, expect at least ONE: Forward Bend, Backbend, Twist on both sides, Inversion and Supported Savasana. You will have a full set of props like in the Therapeutic classes and with the consent – Hands-On adjustments or enhancements are welcomed. Little shifting will be done through poses whereas Therapeutic Restorative will require more active transitions especially in the first 2/3 of the poses.
Some Classical Restorative Classes may have additional poses that range from supported Hip Openers, Wall-based inversions or twists and hip openers, breath awareness and personal touches depending on the teacher leading the class.
TRUE IDENTITY RESTORATIVE YOGA:
This Self-created fusion of my personal practices through both Classical and Therapeutic Restorative gives a very consistent but different structure each class. The ratio of time spent between being ‘active’ or ‘focused’ or ‘passive’ will range anywhere from equal parts for the class length or sometimes the class will be a gentle active seated warm-up that leads into the next 2/3 as a purely passive restorative practice. Usually this style is 1:1:1 (Gentle Hatha:Yin:Restorative) or 1:2 (Gentle Hatha: Restorative) OR 1:2 (Yin:Restorative).
The intention behind the varied outcomes is to meet the needs of each specific class demographic as this style will target a mixed levels and varied accessibility in where each student is at for participation in class. PROPS will be used extensively and able to ensure full support to enhance the overall releases the body can have through the course of practice. Additional focus on hands-on and physical connection is part of this style as well. Expect an ‘open-dialogue” format where I will be having a real ongoing conversation with you as my students and therefore the body and mind and heart can feel heard, listened to and fully softened to the trust of you and the props beneath you.
Is (as briefly mentioned above:)
Predominantly addressing toward your ‘connective’ tissues which are plastic in nature like a credit card versus your elastic tissues which function more like silly putty and can retain and reshape after quick stretches.
Yin Yoga borrows several asanas that are performed in a Hatha / Vinyasa style yoga class BUT instead of activating your body (straight spine, active feet and hands/neck) you instead will be Deactivating and Disengaging your body muscularly in order for the bones/joints/ligaments to receive the benefits of the stretches.
You’re unable to stretch successfully in Yin poses unless their held for up to minimum 3 minutes and eventually up to 5-7 minutes and depending on the stress of the pose,10+ minutes! PROPS are traditionally NOT used in a classical yin practice UNLESS INJURIES would be at high risk to occur. The practice of Yin is unsupported in nature as this is ONE of many misconceptions of the DIFFERENCES of YIN and RESTORATIVE YOGA!
With the above statement said, Yin Yoga poses are absolutely still ‘yin’ focused connective tissue releases as long as the body is feeling that deep sensation within the joint/ligament/bone.
TRANSITIONS in YIN YOGA ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO KEEP ATTENTION TO AT ALL TIMES!
The most common places for injuries is not just students pushing and going way to far due to Ego or lack of awareness of the Yin Body, however the amount of TIME that is SPENT in a pose is way longer then a YANG natured pose! This requires you to move methodically and release in order for the connective tissues to reintegrate that stress in which it was placed upon. Be very mindful about the three key steps or stages ‘tattvas’ that are in the Yin Yoga Lineage:
1) Coming into the Pose:
(find an edge WITHOUT PAIN sensations ‘tingling, stabbing, burning, numbing, sharp, electrical, deathly)
2) Settling into your experience of the pose:
(slightly shifting to accommodate the pose to a ‘FUNCTIONAL’ vs. ‘aesthetic’ form/feel that YOUR body thrives in.)
3) Coming out of the pose slowly:
(Taking deep thorough breaths to prepare the body for movement and transitioning to a Neutral/Counter pose)
The Yin Yoga practice also provides different ways of connecting the the body in either a purely physical/anatomical and/or energetic/spiritual/subtle manner. Through the muscle groups of the Torso, Thighs, Legs, Arms, Spine these all consist of certain poses that are usually countered by one another in order to neutralize the body i.e. Quadriceps are the top of your thigh and are stretched in a half-saddle pose. These would be countered through a hamstring stretch in the back of the legs and any forward bend is able to achieve this regardless which one is taken!
The energetic philosophy and methodology behind the Energetics of Yin pertain to both ‘Daoism / Taoism” and “Tantra.” Daoism focuses on the Chinese Meridian Systems of the body and also measuring Chi or Life Force / Prana in the energy body. The Tantra philosophy pays more attention to the Chakras that line up along the spinal cord from the root to the crown of the head. In the Chinese Meridians from the Daoism perspective, there are 12 meridian pairings. The Yin practice primarily focuses on your Six Lower body meridians which are the:
1) Liver ‘Adductors i.e. Inner Legs and Gall Bladder i.e. IT Band + Glutes + Gliding Muscles)
2) Stomach+Spleen ‘Quadriceps’ + Urinary Bladder/Kidneys ‘Hamstrings’
The organs all have their own specific functions for the creation, filtration and elimination of the cells nutrients, blood, water, oxygen and wastes. The meridian lines and corresponding pairs also contain their own Elemental characters and emotional qualities which are stored accordingly.
Through our own use of Twisting, Compressing and Shirring ‘pulling’ our connective tissues in the poses – we use self-applied ACUPRESSURE in order to stimulate these lines to cleanse and clear blockages of scar tissues, revitalize calcified joint fluids that were once slippery and healthy at younger ages.
The energetic sides of Yin are equally important to the anatomical and physical. Without one there can’t be another, as in Yin there is always a portion of YANG. This is where the Upper Body Meridians become relevant to the Arms and Shoulders and Neck!
1) Heart/Triple Heater + Small Intenstines
2) Lungs + Large Intestines
3) Pericardium + San Jiao
(These two run down the spinal cord and then the central channel of the front mid-line of the torso)
In the Upper Body Meridians is where the YANG (Tensile Elastic) tissues reside and require EXTRA TLC when performing stretches on them. The poses you will be seeing applied are eagle or cow face arms, forearm stretch using the palms of the hands gradually peeling off the floor until all fingers leave the mat and depending on the lineage of Yin being practiced, the occasional weight bearing of a plank pose or downward facing dog! These shoulder stretches need to be under 1 minute usually as the muscles or these regions are super delicate and can be over stretched or injured intensely.
Other stretches for the neck include gently stretching all sides. The upper body meridians are able to be stimulated via backbends, forward bends, side bending ‘flexion’ and rotation or inversions… (sound familiar? Restorative!) Some Yin classes will target ONLY on ONE MERIDIAN PAIRING and the poses will target and theme around the HIPS or the SPINE or a COMBO of BOTH as well as in between these two primary anatomical places.
Unlike a vinyasa or hatha class that MAY (if intentional) warms the body up for a ‘PEAK’ pose… YIN and Restorative yoga styles ARE NOT fully based on this intention. As long as if you were focusing on all one asana category like backbends… end the class beforehand with a long and deep forward bend to counter act all the other directional gravity and stretch done before.
Yin Yoga or a Yin/Yang is wonderful especially if you like to move, be still yet feel like you accomplished something with your time on the mat. Come try it and see for yourself as you are truly your own greatest teacher!
Gentle Hatha / Hatha
Gentle Hatha is a mixture of more seated and floor based poses that usually weaves elements of supported restorative and yin poses into an active movement based series of asanas, breath and meditation with props. The sequences vary from teacher to teacher and some classes may focus more on standing series or a specific body part or anatomical region / asana categories i.e. twisting and core! Gentle Hatha and Yoga in general is the best alternative for those seeking a gentler active practice without the intensity of a regular Hatha or Vinyasa style of movement and breath control.Hatha is the oldest root of yoga and focuses on STATIC holding of foundational poses emphasizing alignment and safety through integration and using props.The intention behind Hatha actually translates in Sanskrit as “To Strike – or Sun/Moon!”
With this contrast being noted, it’s the most diverse practice a teacher can interpret as it could be a full on standing series with little time seated or on the floor until final Savasana. On the other hand, some regular non-gentle Hatha classes can be fully seated and on all 4’s and integrate subtle refinements for core therapeutics and all the directional movements of the hips/torso/arms/legs and spine! Hatha is a mixed bag however the first sentence summarizes it up pretty simply I would say.
Anusara-Inspired Alignment Flow
Anusara yoga was a popular style of yoga invented by John Friend in the USA. He created a method of alignment and principals of bio-mechanics titled: “Universal Principals of Alignment” which is what I have been teaching from since completion of my advanced 300 hour Yoga Training from Vancouver School of Yoga in Gastown. Although I AM NOT an ‘Anusara-Inspired or Anusara’ teacher, I am trained in the core of its methodologies by a SENIOR ANUSARA TEACHER and have grown exponentially as a yoga teacher and student and will offer it in my own unique way through a Hatha-Flow or fiery vinyasa flow.
The UPA’s are also paired with Key Alignment Principals and therefore the structuring and planning + thematic story telling for the classes can be quite structured as the intended result is to end up at a specific peak pose OR progressive stage of poses.Some classes may be loosely themed and still have heavy alignment based instructions weaved with energetic and expansive guiding as you become more supple with the body, mind and especially your HEART in this Heart based asana practice. Thematically Anusara is know for it’s integration of the yoga history and philosophy and this is applied through story telling of deities and hindu gods/goddesses as well as using mantra/chanting and pranayama/meditation exercises to awaken and liberate the spirit within you. I have a method that embraces and honours this through my own
TRUE IDENTITY and AUTHENTIC VOICE of REINTERPRETATION!
“Om Nama Shivaya Guravey” – You can see the Anusara Invocation HERE (It is chanted at the beginning of class 3 times with 3 AUMs before and 3 AUMs after)
Vinyasa / Power Vinyasa
This style of Yoga stemmed from the root of ‘Ashtanga” which translates to Eight Limbs.
HERE’S A LIST OF THE 8 LIMBS IN A COLES NOTES FORMAT: –
THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF THEM = ENLIGHTENMENT
1) YAMA “Observances – 5 different concepts and ethical practices that the Yogi/Yogini embodies period.”
2) NiYama “Restraints – 5 disciplines and ethical guidelines that the Yogi/Yogini embodies period.”
3) ASANA “The MOST recognized by the WEST with little to NO awareness of what precedes and follows it”
4) PRANAYAMA “Breath Awareness / Manipulation for centring the mind/body in one channel of energy”
5) PRATYAHARA “Sensory Deprivation and Withdrawal from all of your senses to eliminate EGO/Distractions”
6) DHARANA “Concentration of the Yogi’s mind and even focused on a ‘Drishti’ (single pointed focus).
7) DHYANA “Bhakti/Devotion to a god, divinity, higher force you resonate with, to the ‘AEther’
8) SAMADHI ‘Bliss/Enlightenment/Integration with Divine’ This is what the BUDDHA apparently achieved.
The Yoga Practice we have grown to understand in the WEST translates strictly to the physical exercise of Asana. Although the Asana is a ton for our minds to process let alone the body, it’s just not the sole entirety that the practice is both from a daily routine as well as the lifestyle it becomes ever so ingrained and embodied.
is a SET sequence of rules and alignments similar to that of Anusara MINUS the soft and esotericism or the Heart being a focus. Ashtanga for example is rigorous and practiced with feet touching vs. hip-width apart and ONLY follows 1 breath to 1 movement. It’s a structured and beautifully disciplined practice that takes all the bells and whistles away from the more modernized athleticism that is known as Vinyasa Flow/power.Ashtanga was founded by Sri. K. Pattabi Jois and then a Seattle, WA. based man named Baron Baptiste established the practice of “Baptiste Power Flow” which is now one of the #1 styles of the lineage taught internationally.So, where does the Power Vinyasa and Vinyasa come into the present day?
While Ashtanga is still practiced by many, however most studios aren’t offering it to the public due to it being a very advanced and more traditionalized practice, but it is ALSO OFFERED just under the title of “FLOW or POWER!” As for the Vinyasa/Power…. some people argue they are the SAME. I beg to differ greatly in all honesty. Depending on the teacher and the studio that offers these two styles as separate i.e. Flow or Power, or Vinyasa or Power Vinyasa…
Power tends to be a heated yoga room to 32 degrees celsius and target much more on upper body, strengthening and core based asanas that link into building to a challenging PEAK or several PEAK POSES. Some Power classes are super static like a Hatha class would be and instead a hell of a lot more challenging and strenuous on the body, mind and heart. In sanskrit there is a Niyama (second limb in the 8 meaning Restraint.) —
called TAPAS (The burning of clarity and austerity within the blockages of one’s body, mind, heart and spiritual channels) and with the fiery nature of Power Vinyasa you will tap into that TAPAS regardless and the detoxification and cleansing nature is undeniable.
A FLOW or Vinyasa class is usually more watery and fluid (ROOM TEMPERATURE, You your own internal HEAT) in its movements and approach and provides the student to move through poses without any time to really sink or settle into a shape. It’s helpful for students who are low on attention span and want to be kept distracted from their minds track and be able to work into all areas of the upper and lower bodies.
The breath patterns are similar to Ashtanga of 1:1 but some teachers may hold breaths in poses anywhere from 3-5 cycles where as in Hatha it’s normally 5-10 breaths. Vinyasa also incorporates optional breathing practices and one most commonly known as Ujayi breath which is a slight constriction or gathering of the throat muscles while keeping the mouth sealed.The result sounds like fogging up a mirror or an oceanic breath. This harnesses energy and helps to heat your body up to stoke the TAPAS/Fire. Another tool we use is called SamaVritti which means Same Length or breath of the inhale and exhales. This allows the body to become rhythmic and in a ‘FLOW’ with ease and synchronicity.
Vinyasa simply means to transition between linking asanas.
Most people (including me until my 300 hour) understood vinyasa as a cycle from a pose to Plank-Chaturanga-Cobra/Updog-Downdog.
In fact, Vinyasa can simply be three cycles of breath with a repeat movement of inhaling and exhaling yourself between sides of poses or before beginning a new sequence of postures. ONE EXAMPLE COULD BE from Uttanasana (standing forward bend) to Ardha (half way lift.) With the freedom this gives a teacher and their students, the flow becomes more organic in the expressions you choose to make each breath to movement.
Expect a well rounded strength and stretch in the class and a healthy awareness of your alignment and foundation from a Hatha practice is very helpful for newer students.