Vrnda Leier

Vrnda, CIYT (Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher) (RYT-500) is a lifelong student of yoga, having begun her exploration of meditation at 16 and yoga at 21. She has taught yoga for over 25 years. She trained with many Iyengar teachers, including Karin O’Bannon and Judith Lasater, and also had the opportunity to study with Geeta Iyengar at the Iyengar Convention in 2001.. Vrnda weaves philosophy and history into her classes, reminding students to bring the age-old wisdom of yoga into daily life.


About Restorative Yoga

The Gift of Restorative Yoga
by Vrnda Leier

In these chaotic and uncertain times, a restorative yoga or active-relaxation practice as it is sometimes called, can offer enhanced physical, emotional and mental rest, bringing a sense of calm and peace to soothe the nerves and bolster the immune system.

At this time of year, observing and aligning with Nature invites us to move inward – to be receptive and recharge, while our culture beckons us outward. Restorative practice can help bring balance, while giving us an opportunity for quiet reflection during the holidays.

Restorative practice minimizes sympathetic (fight or flight response) stimulation to the nervous system by reducing sensory exposure, decreasing mental activity and external stimulants that activate the nervous system and maximizes parasympathetic (relaxation response or rest and digest) activation of the nervous system through safety, comfort, quiet, and use of props.

B.K.S. Iyengar, father of the modern practice, was the first to systematically develop restorative sequences, through which our body/mind can return to its natural state of well-being. The sequences can include supported back extensions, that tend to be invigorating; supported forward extensions, that have a calming, soothing effect on the nervous system; supported inversions, that give the heart a rest from its effort to pump blood to the brain and provide support for all the body’s systems, especially the immune and endocrine systems; and supported side bends and twists that help neutralize the body/mind through releasing deeper held tensions and anxiety. Extended stays in the asanas stretch, cleanse and tone the internal organs, allowing time to let go and rest deeply.

I once heard from one of my teachers, Roger Cole, a CIYT who also is a psychobiologist and sleep researcher, that restorative yoga and sleep complement one another. This has been my experience as well. He says that restorative yoga is better than sleep for releasing tense muscles, relieving joint aches, and transitioning the mind and body quickly from stress to calm. It also teaches conscious control of relaxation. Sleep is essential for completing the job of full recovery of the nervous system, sorting out memories and emotions, and literally finding meaning in our lives, of course.

My students over the years have told me that they also experience improved sleep for two to three nights after one restorative class, and they notice improved attention and concentration. Your personal restorative practice can be simply doing one or two restorative poses, a full sequence, or including them appropriately within or near the end of a practice session.

As I rest and let go in my restorative practice of un-doing, I am reminded of the words of John Bradshaw:
“We are human be-ings, not human do-ings.”