the power of one blanket
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
I still remember the moment, yes, the exact minute, hour, year, when Restorative yoga revealed itself to me. I was in a bit of a state: the world seemed to have fallen apart, and I remember a single tear unexpectedly rolling down my cheek during Uttitha Trikonasana (triangle pose).
The teacher knew me well enough to let me be, but then during savasana she came over and quietly, gently, and with a great deal of kindness, laid a blanket over me. I can’t even begin to describe the power of that moment, but it has driven my yoga journey ever since. I immediately knew that I needed to study, practice, assist and teach Restorative yoga so that I could do whatever I could to pay it forward, to pass the strength and the support of a blanket on to others. With a training in science, I am also happy to report that 100% of the times that one of my teachers has laid a blanket over me (which is now an “n” of quite a lot!), I feel blessed. I have since learned from Nicole Clark that every gentle assist and moment of kindness as you prop someone toward comfort carries supportive intention can be extraordinarily powerful.
Blankets are powerful: they support, warm and hold you. They can be firm enough to support the back of the knees, accurate enough to ensure that a prominent spinal landmark, cervical vertebra 7, sits correctly, long enough to hold you in a ‘wrapped savasana’, dark enough to form a ‘fortress of solitude’ in a side-lying savasana (ask me in class), and soft enough to make a cork block or a cold floor your friend.
I went on to study with Judith Hanson Lasater, and she told us about the journey behind the canonical blanket folds, how she had gone back and forth with her publisher and illustrator for weeks in her efforts to accurately convey the blanket folds that she had learned from B.K.S. Iyengar, and that are illustrated in her now-classic text ‘Relax and Renew’. Next time you see the piles of blankets at Down Under Yoga, know that even the props in their neat rows have a history, an intention, and a lineage. In Restorative yoga, they are an integral part of the asana, an absolute essential that enriches the practice of supporting the body and mind as they enter a state of relaxation. It’s hard to believe, but a single blanket helped me discover what grew into a daily practice that is beautifully described in Judith’s words:
“My yoga mat. When I step onto it, I am taking a certain form of refuge: in the lineage, in the practice, in the moment. And I am stepping away from all the roles I play, as well as who I think I am. Then I rediscover anew, every day, the practice.”