Restorative Yoga with Sarah Jenness: Journey into Softening, Self-Compassion, and Healing with Tibetan Bowls

by Restorative Yoga Poses on May 9, 2012

Sarah brings a love for yoga and the knowledge of strength training and dance into her yoga classes and personal training instruction. As the owner of Live Your Health Yoga and Personal Training out of Oakland, CA, she helps others heal and avoid injury through skillful restorative yoga classes that focus on deepening ones awareness and appreciation of the body. Sarah studies with Judith Hanson Lasater, and has been a Relax & Renew® restorative yoga teacher for over 4 years. To find out more about Sarah please visit her 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 first introduced to restorative Yoga through Piedmont Yoga Studio. As part of our teacher training, we attended a weekend workshop on restorative yoga. Thereafter, I started practicing restorative poses once a week.

2. What key intentions do you share with your restorative yoga students?

I encourage my students to allow, rather than do, and to savor this allowing. Restorative practice is about opening the body, not stretching or forcing it in anyway. Many times, positive changes can only come if we allow them to, but often times we are so busy with our doing and our strategies that we miss the mark. There is a power in softening- on and off our mats.

3. Please share any personal transformations and insights that you’ve gained through your practice of restorative yoga.

When I first started practicing restorative yoga, I discovered that I was exhausted, and had been so for years! As my teacher Judith Lasater says, “You cannot be truly compassionate if you are exhausted.” I now live a much more balanced life, practicing active and restorative yoga, balancing work and play. I find it easier to cultivate compassion now, especially the most important kind of compassion- Self-compassion.

4. In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of restorative yoga?

It restores balance in a high-speed, fast everything, revved up culture! The physiological benefits are just the beginning of how amazing restorative yoga is.

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?

I find that my energy level, muscle tension, and entire body varies depending on internal and external influences all the time. Therefore one pose will be perfect one week, and I will need something entirely different the next. This is why working privately with a yoga teacher can be so effective.

6. Would you say you are a different person after practicing restorative yoga? In what ways has restorative yoga changed your life?

In what ways has restorative yoga changed your life? Yes, see answer 3.

7. What would you recommend to students that are new to restorative yoga?

I think that restorative yoga can be difficult for beginners, because people often feel uncomfortable about “doing nothing.” Especially if someone is new to yoga altogether, they are not yet familiar with the amazing benefits it can bring to their lives. To beginning students, I encourage them with the simple health-benefit statistics. Restorative yoga has proven to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and “bad” cholesterol in clinical studies- who can argue with that? Then, after someone has tried it and felt the affects of the practice- they’re usually hooked! This happened with a corporate lunch-hour class I teach. I introduced the restorative and received some hem-haws, then only three classes later I have a group of professional relaxers! They now come to class with eye pillows and extra props- these guys can relax!

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 this really depends on the individual and her condition, but yes, it can bring great benefits. I’ve worked privately with several survivors and the practice has helped immensely.

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 will occasionally include some simple pranayama (breathing) exercises into my classes. Also, although I agree that the four principles of restorative yoga- stillness, quiet, darkness, and warmth- are all necessary to promote deep relaxation, I believe that some kinds of sound can help the practitioner into that place as well. In collaboration with my husband, I offer restorative yoga with Tibetan bowls. I notice that this application of sound healing allows the students to drop in more deeply and when they are noticeably more relaxed we invite a long, sweet silence.

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 do see the need increasing as technology continues to speed up our lives and demand our attention on a scope of many levels. I also think that as the baby boomer generation ages, we will have a senior population that is more open to yoga and alternative healing.

To start today with Restorative Yoga classes find Sarah and other teachers listed on the Restorative Yoga Teacher’s Database.

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