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Recovery through rest and relaxation

Anthea Browne has visions of a Sooke yoga studio featuring this breathtaking vista high in the hilltops of Saseenos. - Britt Santowski
Anthea Browne has visions of a Sooke yoga studio featuring this breathtaking vista high in the hilltops of Saseenos.
— image credit: Britt Santowski

There is healing in rest and relaxation according to Anthea Browne, a local Restorative Yoga instructor. Restorative yoga is a gentler, more passive yoga, ideal for people with limited mobility or recovering from injury.

This passive approach to healthy living focuses on relaxing the body in restful positions. Rest, which is different than sleep, provides the body an opportunity to renew and heal.

Browne was trained as a ballet teacher at Ryerson College in Toronto and practiced as a yoga instructor in Courtney, where she had her own yoga studio.

She has turned her attention to restorative yoga because of Osteoarthritis (OA) in her hips for seven years now. OA is a degenerative arthritis that impacts the joints, like knees and hips, resulting in pain and stiffness.

Restorative yoga can accommodate all levels of fitness, and all body types. “One woman came into the workshop with two canes,” Browne recounts. A program can be as few as six poses, each held for five to 10 minutes.

Yes, it is hard to hold a stand-up yoga pose for five to 10 minutes. But with restorative yoga, the poses are on the ground and the student is supported with bolsters, foam blocks and a strap.

One of her clients worked as a machinist for 20 years, and engaged in mountain cycling on the side. He just assumed pain was a part of life. He is now, for the most part, pain free.

“Pain does not have to be a part of growing old or of an active lifestyle,” says Browne. She herself is getting ready for the next phase in her life, which she describes as “Getting used to getting old.”

Aging is an inevitable process, and as Browne travels that path in life, she is determined to help others go through it by “sharing the transformative affects of yoga with people who can be changed by it.”

Her approach to yoga is uplifting and playful. On her website (peaceinpresence.com), she gives a succulent description of her restorative yoga workshops recently offered at Sooke’s Ahimsa Yoga and Fitness studio: “If Hatha Yoga was a healthy, delicious dinner, restorative would be the chocolate mousse at the end that soothes your senses.”

Browne teaches using a unique home-practice approach that allows her students to practice at their own pace, at their own place, and on their own schedule.

She first discusses the unique health challenges a new student wishes to address. Based on this input, she tailors a custom restorative yoga program consisting of a series of poses designed to begin gently and progressively go deep. Browne then does a home visit, helping the new student achieve the poses. She takes pictures of the student in each pose so they can easily re-achieve it on their own.

After the home visit, the student will have a personalized program enabling them to begin their own home practice.

And if you fall off the yogic wagon, Browne helps you get back on track. She is interested in “helping students find solutions instead of feeling guilty.”

So what does a client need to bring to the table (or in this case, the floor)? The tools-of-the-trade are pretty basic. A cylindrical bolster, a strap, and two foam blocks. A place where you can stretch out. Some time, scheduled at your convenience. And most importantly, the desire to improve your health.

Every year, January comes and goes. January gym memberships spike; by March, they plummet. Goals were too big, progress too slow. Enthusiasm surrenders to defeat.

That makes February a critical month if you have committed to making this year your year of change.

If you are thinking that pain is just a part of life, a part of growing older, and that vitamin I (Ibuprofen) is a part of your daily vitamin regime, think again. It doesn’t need to be, Browne assures. Rest your way to better health through restorative yoga.

Sooke has options. Ahimsa offers restorative yoga classes, and Anthea Browne can help you develop a home study program.

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