What Do Reptiles and Restorative Yoga Have in Common?

Brumation! Brumation is a period of dormancy, similar to hibernation, during which an organism becomes physically inactive. It is an adaptive strategy, used by some cold-blooded animals like reptiles and amphibians to survive cold temperatures.

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Restorative yoga is a style of asana (physical, postural yoga) during which poses are held for longer periods of time, and supported by props to facilitate comfort and relaxation.

So, my human-and-herpetofauna-inclusive definition of brumation is: a state of productive inactivity in a cozy spot during cold weather.

For a snake that cozy spot might be a hibernaculum in a sturdy rock wall; for a turtle, perhaps a burrow in the mucky bottom of a pond. For a human, that cozy spot can be a yoga mat (or soft rug, or even a bed) surrounded by blankets and pillows.

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How is brumation productive? Simply put, it allows us all to survive. Without it, some animals wouldn’t make it through the winter; and, without the physiological and mental benefits of allowing our bodies productive relaxation, human life is a bit more of a struggle.

Give it a try!

Cover yourself with a blanket, and stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes. Pile blankets and pillows on your bolster until you can comfortably rest your head down. Sitting on the corner of a folded blanket might also help you fold forward with more ease.
Cover yourself with a blanket and stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes. If you feel tension in the neck, ditch the bolster and head pillow, and simply relax your head onto your hands.

According to expert yoga teacher, Judith Hanson Lasater, there are four requirements for the ideal restorative experience:

Stillness: A brumating animal becomes lethargic and rarely, if ever, moves.

Make yourself comfortable, sink into the support of your props, and rest without moving.

Darkness: Animals brumate in places where little light penetrates including burrows, caves, and under rocks, leaf litter, or water.

Dim the lights and close your eyes.

Warmth: Brumating animals’ body temperatures are determined by their surroundings, so during the coldest months they seek out insulated places to ensure they will not freeze.

Wear thick socks and cover yourself with a blanket.

Silence: Brumating animals’ heartbeats, breathing, and digestion slow way down.

Practice alone in a quiet, secluded room, and refrain from listening.

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The Buddha said, “My practice is the practice of nonpractice.” Brumate with the turtles and snakes. It’s good for your survival!

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