There's something extra special about Friday night yoga. Add a sea of comfy props and some mood music and it's practically like pressing the reset button before the weekend even begins. At the end of a particularly long work week, it was Lynn Lisella's 7:15pm candlelit restorative at YogaWorks Eastside providing the space and opportunity to shake it off and settle in. With its laid back vibe and easy-going staff, YogaWorks' Eastside studio lent itself to my Friday night mission to chill and restore.
As Lynn entered the darkened studio she asked that we each grab an armful of props including two blankets, two blocks, a bolster, and a strap. As the sun started to descend in the sky, we came onto our backs for some easy movements and warm-ups. We stretched our legs and arms to the ceiling to roll out our wrists and ankles and then just let them hang in a "zombie" dangle, bones and joints stacked.
Lynn had us grab our straps for some 90 degree supta padangusthasana, then across our body just a few inches for a mighty releasing of the IT band. "This is the most activity you'll be doing all class," Lynn assured us. "Where can you do 10 percent less? Relax more?" To answer those questions, I eased up on my shoulders, and with the suggestion from Lynn, softened the muscles of my jaw.
As we came up to sit, Lynn prepared us for out first restorative pose, a luxurious twist lying over our bolster which we held for a few minutes on each side undoing a week's worth of compression and stress in my back.
Our next few poses took on a similarly restorative approach to more typically active poses with the support of props. For instance, Lynn demonstrated an interesting version of restorative lizard with our bolster stacked on blocks and our torsos draped over top, our arms hugging the bolster as our hips sank for a supported stretch. We also took a supported supta virasana that provided more of a passive backbend and chest opening than a chance to snooze. (I'm one to drift off during restorative yoga class!)
As Lynn instructed us into each posture, she made sure to note that it was a suggestion, and that if any position didn't feel right for us at that moment or there was something uncomfortable about it, we could take an alternative. She made it a point to move around the room and help adjust anyone who needed assistance.
Our restoration played out to the soundtrack of soft piano music that wafted through the room like the humid spring air through the open windows. The only other sound besides Lynn's gentle instruction was the gentle hum from the ceiling fans overhead.
Though each pose was restorative, we had been building to something all along. When we reached final savasana—propped by a bolster and padded by blankets—that's where the full relaxation set in (as well as my snooze, and my reset, button).
We closed class with seated alternate nostril breathing and a meditation following our breath, grounding from the root of our spine leading out through the crown of our head. A single "Om" capped it all off and as the vibration streamed out through the screened windows, so did my week's worries. Lynn bid us all a good night and stayed around to answer any questions as we made our way out, a little lighter, restored and renewed.
—Holly C. for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in classes are $28 with $2 mat rentals available. New students can try two weeks of unlimited yoga for $25.