This may not look like real yoga to you, but it’s my favorite kind and how I intend to spend the rest of this afternoon.

Hang in here with me, there’s a hot off the griddle excerpt from Winter’s Thaw somewhere in this post.

For the inexperienced, this is restorative yoga. Instead of stretching into a pose and holding it for a period of time, a person employs various props – bolsters, blankets, blocks, straps, eye bags (a slightly weighted mask; it provides very light pressure that helps relax your forehead and eyes) – intended to provide support so that you can achieve a passive pose and relax in it for up to five minutes, all while breathing. The purpose is not to practice muscular strengthening or stretching, but is entirely to avoid and prevent tension so that your body can achieve deeper relaxation. Always ending with my favorite pose of all time: savasana (or shavasana), the corpse pose, also supported.

In a restorative yoga practice, nothing should hurt, feel pressure or tension. What are the benefits? I Googled for you and found a very nice website. According to Esther Ekhart:

Restorative yoga balances a fast lifestyle and has an enormous capacity to heal physical and mental symptoms that are stress related, and as we know, many diseases these days are stress related.

Ekhart lists some specific benefits, including

  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Deep relaxation of the body
  • Stilling the mind
  • Improved capacity for healing and balancing
  • Balancing the nervous system
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Enhanced mood

I don’t have high blood pressure, but I read that restorative yoga is helpful for that, as well. I’ve even read that it can help with weight loss …



Why do I do this? I mean, other than the fact that it’s better than a full night’s sleep?

A little more than a decade ago, I had a total collapse of my immune system from years spent in a high-stress career and an advanced case of pertussis and pneumonia that took many months to recover from. Traditional medicine was no help – I was too far over the cliff. Antibiotics were worthless, but my intrepid pulmonologist monitored me closely from week to week. On his recommendation, I started a program of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and massage therapy.

As my strength started to return, I began regular yoga practice – yin yoga, to be sure, but not the aggressive Bikram or hot yoga style of practice. There followed this past decade of yoga, Pilates and even belly dancing for a few years. I continue the regular massage therapy and always will. The team of people who keep this broken body together now includes an amazing chiropractor. Aging ain’t for sissies, and it takes a freakin’ village. Faithful readers of this blog have heard me whine talk about my twice weekly torture sessions with my young trainer, who’s been my guide through all these activities over the years.

What I’ve noticed recently is that, by God, my immune system recovered at some point over the past several years. I haven’t succumbed to germs and viruses in years. And that includes the past several months of hanging out at an elementary school on Friday afternoons!

And, now that Winter’s Thaw requires me to sit in a desk chair¹ for some hours nearly every day, I need to work the kinks out with greater intention than before. All of which inspired me to pass along my appreciation for the benefits of yoga to my MFC². I hope you enjoy this little scene that appears toward the close of Winter’s Thaw.

Candace collapsed on her mat, laughing. She couldn’t hold a plank for three minutes while a cat wound back and forth under her chest and sat between her quivering forearms to snuffle her face.

“That tickles,” she said, smiling, and hiked herself up into a downward dog to relax her tight hamstrings and calves. Fuzzbutt ambled under her angled body, flopped onto his side and stretched his length as far as he could, front and hind legs extended, and toes spread. He yawned so hugely his tongue curled out of his mouth, and a little mewl escaped. “Isn’t it lovely how relaxing yoga practice is for you.” She finished her pose and lowered to her knees. “Move cat.” She scooped him up and planted him beside the mat.

On her back, she rolled up and down through a series of bridges to work the kinks out of her back. “Should I schedule a massage?” Fuzzbutt sat with a hind leg hiked straight into the air and licked the inside of what she assumed was his knee. She studied him for a second, then tried to mimic his pose. She grunted. “Man, that’s harder than it looks.” He looked at her through slitted eyes and, finished with his ablutions, settled down on his belly. He folded his front legs, forearms parallel before him.

“Ah, a Sphinx. That we can do.” She rolled onto her belly and lifted her chest, propping herself on bent arms. “You know,” she said conversationally, “my career doesn’t define me.” The cat’s eyes drifted closed. “Exactly. I’m a complete person. Besides, I’m still a lawyer even if no one will hire me.” She folded back into child’s pose, breathing into it and prolonging her exhale. When Fuzzbutt rose to nuzzle an ear, she giggled.

She looked up, staring at nothing in particular. “I’ve got a good life, a man who respects me and still makes me feel sexy and beautiful. I’ve got the best friends anyone could ask for.” [spoiler removed — hey, gotta save something to surprise you]

Before settling into the reason she practiced yoga at all – savasana – she turned onto her back once more and bent her knees. She grabbed the soles of her feet and rocked back and forth, from side to side. The happy baby never failed to comfort her, and it did so now.

Fergus demonstrating a forearm plank

Side plank







¹ It’s ergonomic, but still. Sitting.

² Main Female Character.