Mark Cormier has been a restorative yoga teacher for 3 years and offers classes in San Francisco. See his full profile here.
1. Restorative yoga is a beautiful style of yoga, both powerful and gentle. How did you initially come to learn about this type of yoga?
I was an options floor trader at the Pacific Stock Exchange (picture “Trading Places,” lots of yelling and screaming) and the usual routine on a Friday afternoon was to hit the bar for a few hours and trade war stories over beers. One Friday afternoon, I decided to leave the bar early and try the Restorative Yoga class offered at my gym. Soon I looked forward to the class more than I did my “beers with the boys.” I was hooked on “conscious relaxation!”
2. What key intentions do you share with your restorative yoga students?
That for the next hour or so the only thing on their “To do” list is to relax. That we all have the power to relax ourselves just by letting our bodies settle and focusing on the breath.
3. Please share any personal transformations and insights that you’ve gained through your practice of restorative yoga.
That I can calm myself just by putting my self into a shape where I can let go. That one’s mind can be alert when the body is inert and visa versa. The body and mind don’t always have to work in tandem in terms of their respective states of arousal.
4. In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of restorative yoga?
It teaches us how to calm ourselves with the simple and beneficial externalities of breath awareness, a comfortable body shape, and a warm but not hot place, through silence or pleasing sounds.
5. If you could name one pose that has truly supported you in a way that allowed you to open, release, and restore your body and mind unlike any other pose what was that pose and why was it so empowering?
Legs up on a couch while laying flat on the floor. This pose makes my lower back sing!
6. Would you say you are a different person after practicing restorative yoga? In what ways has restorative yoga changed your life?
Not a different person but a calmer person and not so reliant on externalities to calm myself.
7. What would you recommend to students that are new to restorative yoga?
“Legs up on a couch, back flat on floor” pose; a safe, quiet place to practice, a soft weight for the forehead, plenty of pillows!
8. There has been some inquiry for restorative yoga poses for women with breast cancer. Can you suggest any poses that would be particularly helpful?
I think no matter what the malady, relaxation would help. I ‘m not a doctor but I would avoid recommending poses where there is pressure put on a woman’s breasts.
9. Please share any specialties (ie. Aromatherapy, meditation, sound healing, etc) that you include in your classes and/or areas that you focus on in particular (anxiety, stress relief, chronic pain).
I believe in calming sounds to better establish a sense of sacred space. I occasionally play a thumb piano and I like live chimes. I like to offer invitations to send the breath to various parts of the body based on the pose but then I like to go quiet to let silence and some time spent in the pose work its magic.
10. What do you think will be the future for restorative yoga? Do you see the need increasing and in what ways will restorative yoga be able to serve people in the coming years?
I think it is a great counterbalance to our busy world that seems to be getting busier and more fragmented. It’s a nice way to work with the body that’s in a whole other league from what most people do in a gym or yoga studio environment. Restorative yoga is a great example of the dictums that we don’t always have to push our bodies around when we work with our bodies and that we don’t always have to seek another shape or look for ourselves, that we can consider ourselves perfect just the way we are!