You may think that there’s nothing more relaxing than a restorative class at the end of a long day. Ashley Brodeur knows better. The founder of Feelosophy offers yogis a deep stretch with a little something extra: massage therapy.
Settle into child’s pose swathed in a warm blanket, and allow yourself to be lulled into deep relaxation by chill acoustics as the scent of calming lavender wafts through the air. Just as you’re about to nod off, someone gives you a neck massage and any lingering thoughts from the day melt away.
Feelosophy yoga classes are offered at Moment Meditation and Distrikt Movement studios in Vancouver, among others. Each class is slightly different—but just as heavenly—as the last one. Students can expect a massage during every other restorative pose, accompanied by relaxing essential oils and music, for an hour of pure bliss. “We’ll massage your hands, feet, calves, or shoulders—there’s really nothing we won’t touch!” says Brodeur, laughing. [Ed’s Note: Quietly let the teacher know at the beginning of class if you do not want to be touched.]
The idea for Feelosophy was born out of Brodeur’s experience with yoga as an access point to her emotions. “When I started practicing yoga at 16, it was the first time that I wasn’t being told how to be or look. It was more, how did I want to feel?” recalls Brodeur. The name Feelosophy was inspired by her perpetual question: why are we not feeling more? By incorporating touch, people get deeper into their postures, connect more to their body and emotions, and stay present with those feelings throughout the class, she explains. “Touch takes your practice to a different place, away from thoughts like, ‘what’s for dinner?’ or ‘should I have text that boy?’”
There’s no doubt that our fast-paced lives have people seeking mindful experiences. From more yin and restorative practices appearing on class schedules to meditation-only studios, it appears to be more quiet that people are craving. “There is a rise in restorative practice happening right now because people are realizing, hey, I am already so high-functioning that there is a benefit to making time to do almost nothing,” says Brodeur. “It offers people an easy access point for exploring yoga and meditation.”
Although the benefits of a restorative practice go beyond the physical, your body will also be better for it. “From the moment you wake up these days, you grab your phone and you’re on the go,” says Brodeur’s business partner and massage therapist Rayna Milne. “Feelosophy classes are very restful and calming for your whole nervous system. A lot of that physical relaxation comes from giving your system a break from all that input and bringing yourself back to your breath.
“People put efficiency and the ability to multi-task on a pedestal and that actually results in a lot of shallow breathing, which is quite straining on the neck and shoulder muscles. We encourage deep belly breathing using your diaphragm instead of those smaller muscles, which means less active work for your body,” continues Milne. “Engaging in this type of breathing releases tense muscles and allows your nervous system to exit 'fight or flight' mode and enter 'rest and digest' mode.”
Since you live in the 21st century, there’s a good chance you could use a little less multi-tasking and a little more yoga, massage, and music in your life. Take a deep breath and let the feel-good vibes fly.