Rest and Silence with Judith & Lizzie

What if “rest” wasn’t treated like a four-letter word? What would our lives and our world look like if we valued sleep and restoration as an important activity of health? How would we feel if every time, or even just sometimes, we answered the the tired pleas of our body with a nap, instead of a coffee? These are the questions we pondered and practiced at Judith and Lizzie Lasater’s Rest and Silence Workshop at YogaYoga during a warm late-November in Austin.

If you’re not familiar with the Lasater ladies, Judith Hanson Lasater is an icon in the yoga world for advancing the art of restorative work. She’s also a physical therapist and PhD and has 40 years of wisdom and experience studying the human body and psyche. Lizzie, her daughter, teaches restorative yoga trainings and retreats internationally. She has a modern perspective that brings a fresh relevance to this practice.

Invited as a Living Yoga Dallas Ambassador to share the love, I was a late participant to the workshop weekend. It was a Friday through Sunday affair, and I didn’t arrive until the very last session. It was like showing up to a dinner party during the dessert course. It’s dessert, so you’ve got that, but you miss out on all the tastes and conversation, the context and camaraderie, that builds up to the delicious finale. In all honesty, I was nervous walking in. But the hosts and guests made me feel like I had been part of the dinner party the whole time. They went out of their way to make me feel welcome, from the moment I walked in the door.

The workshop was a balanced interplay between presentation, conversation, demonstration and practice, which is important given that when you’re in a restorative pose, you can be there for a while. I was never bored. During the 3-hour workshop there was so much food for thought; from anatomy principles and their therapeutic application, to practical steps to address our needs for rest, to the detailed prop set up for Viparita with a Chair (aka “Instant Maui”). I found myself taking copious notes so I could hold onto these nuggets and use them, again and again, in my practice and teaching. It was a big group, at least 60 or more of us, and Judith and Lizzie made a concerted effort to answer questions and give everyone the assistance and care they needed.

The cherry on top of my experience was being asked to demonstrate the setup for Savasana. Lizzie took her time to fold each prop and place it just so, under my head, knees, feet and hands, and then draped a blanket on top of me. She used the metaphor of cooking a gourmet meal for yourself, taking the time to plan and chop and stir, preparing it just so, and then sitting down and enjoying it fully, one bite at a time. It is a potent act of self-love and care, just like setting up a supportive, comforting space for rest in our lives. I left feeling fully nourished and slept like a rock that night...with no sugar hangover the next morning.