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How Restorative Somatic Rest Helped Me With Cope with Stress and Anxiety

I'd like to share with you today my journey of working with stress and anxiety. I have always had times where anxiety felt like it literally took my breath away and left me gasping.  I lived in big, stressful cities for many years including Sao Paulo and London and there is an energy that comes with cities of that size that can be exciting but also overwhelming. Moving back to Melbourne after many years away was a step down in gear but then came the pandemic and an unexpected thyroid surgery mid 2021. Despite years of yoga practice and a desire to slow down and listen to my body's need to rest it wasn't until I found Restorative Yoga taught somatically by my friend and business partner at the time, Gena Kenny from Ohana Yoga,  that I started to learn how to work with my anxiety so it didn't overwhelm me and I began to find the peace and tranquility I craved. 


My first encounter with Restorative Somatic Rest was a revelation. Unlike the fast-paced yoga I had practiced for years, Restorative Somatic Rest offered a sanctuary of stillness and deep relaxation. Supported by blankets, bolsters, and props, I was gently guided into restorative poses designed to soothe the nervous system and calm the mind.


At first, the practice felt unfamiliar—almost uncomfortable. In a world that glorifies busyness and productivity, the idea of simply being still or moving very little and quieting the mind seemed counterintuitive. But as I surrendered to the practice, I began to experience profound shifts within myself. 


One of the most remarkable aspects of Restorative Somatic Rest is its ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system—the body's natural antidote to stress. Through slow, mindful movements and conscious breathing, I learned to activate my body's relaxation response, easing tension and promoting a sense of calm.


As I delved deeper into the practice, I discovered the power of mindfulness and interoception - paying attention to the infinite expressions of internal felt sensation. Through guided meditation and body awareness techniques, I cultivated a deeper understanding of my thoughts and emotions, learning to observe them with compassion and kindness.


With each session of Restorative Somatic Rest, I felt the weight of stress and anxiety begin to lift. My mind grew quieter, replaced by a sense of inner peace and clarity. I began to notice subtle shifts in my mood and outlook—feelings of joy and gratitude replacing fear and worry.


Over time, the benefits of Restorative Somatic Rest extended far beyond the confines of the yoga mat. As I incorporated the principles of relaxation and mindfulness into my daily life, I found myself better equipped to navigate life's challenges with grace and resilience. Stressful situations that once would have sent me spiraling into anxiety now seemed manageable ( most of the time, it's always ongoing), as I tapped into the deep well of inner calm cultivated through my practice.


As I reflect on my journey with Restorative Somatic Yoga, I'm filled with gratitude for the profound transformations it has facilitated in my life. Through this practice, I've discovered a deeper sense of connection—to myself, to others, and to the natural world around me. It's not just about moving the body; it's about moving through life with greater presence, grace, and authenticity.


In a world that often seems to value speed and achievement above all else, Restorative Somatic Yoga serves as a gentle reminder to slow down, to savour each moment, and to embrace the fullness of our human experience. It's a practice that continues to inspire and nourish me, both on and off the mat. 


Today, as I look back on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the transformative power of Restorative Somatic Rest. What began as a simple desire to find relief from stress and anxiety has blossomed into a profound journey of self-discovery and healing. Through the gentle guidance of Restorative Somatic Rest, I have learned to find peace within myself—a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime.


If you would like to experience the benefits of this practice for yourself please join us or reach out to ask any questions. 

Ease stress and anxiety in Restorative Rest
Ellen Blackman leading a Restorative Rest class in the South Melbourne studio

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