"I WAS in a Yin yoga class when I heard a strange noise next to me," says Susan Barrister, the founder of SW Yoga Express, recounting the moment that changed her life. "Somebody falls asleep in every yoga class I've ever taken, but the snoring was so unabashed, I started wondering if maybe I was the weird one for not falling asleep."
Barrister talked to yoga instructors, spiritual counselors, and her life coach before opening her own studio in Goose Hollow that focuses on Nap Yoga. "Everybody thought nappers were a huge problem, but nobody else saw it as an opportunity. Why would they give us little mattresses and play such soothing music if they wanted us to stay awake?"
But it isn't just a rejuvenating bit of shut-eye that people are looking for. Barrister also noticed that people were napping in poses that would probably work on and strengthen specific muscle groups as well.
"The science behind Nap Yoga will be real, once it's conducted," says Barrister, who adds that she doesn't really believe in the scientific method. For now, she's confident she's helping people. "When people wake up, they're usually a bit disoriented, and then they have to rush back to work. But they seem happy."
The key to Nap Yoga is the modification of classic poses to maintain a moderate stretch even while you're passed out. Poses like Drowsy Dog and Siesta Salutations are both soothing and strengthening. Yoga Express also features extra thick mats for side nappers.
The response has been strong. "I never really understood the spiritual part of yoga; I just liked wearing the comfy pants," says Christine Mallory, one of Barrister's first yogis. "Susan's classes really give me that opportunity."
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Susan Barrister's "Nap Yoga" studio is open Monday-Friday from 2-3:15 pm.