Photo: Michael moves into full wheel pose, with aid from friend and Desirée

Why an evening practice can help

Photo: Michael moves into full wheel pose, with aid from friend and Desirée
Urdhva Dhanurasana or wheel pose

I was trying to explain to Desirée Rumbaugh at the workshop this weekend why I did an evening restorative practice of twists and forward folds (and other poses), and I fell back on the old standby of needing to do a restorative practice to relax and to slow the body down for sleep. I know there are nights when I can’t get to sleep without 20-40 minutes of floor work.

It then occurred to me that this nightly routine was a way of wiping clean the imprint left on the body of bad posture, chair sitting, keyboard hunching, and muscular atrophy that the modern world imposes on the human body. Even a vinyasa class may not be enough to clear out the bad habits because I rarely hold the asanas long enough to annul the patterning in the tissues. The extended yin/restorative practice is a kind of body reset that relies more on letting go rather than exerting effort to muscle through barriers.

I’ve been doing this routine for about a year now. It undoubtedly takes much longer to reverse years of self-inflicted body deformation, which is why I had to sit in front of the TV watching World Cup soccer games in variations of forward folds for hours on end to get beyond what seemed like an arbitrary stop point, a 90-degree angle. I thought that I was bumping up against a physical limit.