Welcome Back to your Restorative Yoga Blog! You've now experienced two classes of restorative yoga. What was your experience like? Do you have a favorite pose yet? Keep reflecting on your Sankalpa and weaving it into your life. I've wrapped up this weeks poses, our breathing practice and a few other nuggets in the blog. Enjoy!
Reclined Bound Angle with Strap
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows, rolled up blankets), 4 blankets, one extra blanket for warmth or for wrapping feet in, strap, eye pillow.
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems.
Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees) Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment. Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.
Props: 1 to 2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow form the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.
Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above the sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance of 6-8" away from wall (can adjust while in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower yourself down, swing your legs up the wall. You are now facing the wall. Remember once you are in the pose, you can adjust distance to the wall, blanket comfort, and placement of the legs. Hips and tailbone will be in the space between wall and blanket.
*Note, if setting your legs straight up the wall is uncomfortable to your low back, hips, pelvis and even really tight in your hamstrings, bring legs to more of an angle on wall.
Arms can rest to your side or come into Goddess arms at 90 deg. angle. To add more grounding and to settle more into the pose, try adding a blanket or other weighted object to bottoms of feet. A strap can go around calves so you don't feel like you are holding your legs up.
Supported Revolved Twist
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, 1 extra blanket for warmth and or laying on lower back to ground
Benefits: Gentle twist for the spine. Releases stress on the back muscles and a stretch to the intercostal muscles. As muscles relax, breathing is enhanced.
Set one bolster lengthwise on your mat. Depending upon your comfort, height can be elevated with blocks under bolster. Lay one blanket on top double-fold and one double-fold at end of bolster where your right hip will go. Sit next to bolster with your right hip touching it, bend knees, left or top ankle can lay in arch of right foot or other comfortable position for feet. For added comfort, place blanket between legs. Lengthen body over bolster, laying bent legs in one directions and upper body facing down on bolster. Arms drape down sides of the bolster.
Three-Part Breath or Dirga Pranayama
This is one of my favorite breaths because I can actually feel the movement of the breath through my body, like a "hands on". This brings greater breath awareness and it is considered a "complete" breath where the entire lungs are filled up. I use it to calm me down, center, become more in tune with my physical body.
Can be done either laying down, seated or standing. Try all three positions.
Begin the first part of the breath by placing hands on your belly, inhaling long and deep to that area. Feel the abdomen press against your palm and fingers with inhale and belly deflate with the exhale. Stay for about 5 breaths before moving onto the second part. Now move right hand to left side of rib cage and left hand to right side of rib cage, crossing arms in front of you. Breathe deeply into belly, then into mid-section rib cage area. Feel the ribs slightly separate from each other with the inhale. Exhale from mid-section and then belly. Feel ribs move back in place with the exhale. Stay for about 5 breaths. Slide hands to under the armpits (like you are hiking up your overalls). Breathe in deep to first part, second part and finally to upper chest. Feel chest expand outward and a slight lift. Exhaling from top to bottom. Stay for about 5 breaths. The breath may be so deep and full that the complete breath may even be felt to the bast of the skull.
Serving with a SevaSeva comes from the Sanskrit root word of "siv" or "sev" meaning to serve or honor. In ancient India, the word referred to honoring your ashram or guru or other authority figure. In more modern times, Gandhi promoted "seva" as serving for the good of the larger community. Service can become a spiritual practice when it is done with the intention of bringing a higher consciousness into the world.
Used as a learning tool, can be self-healing. You may be pushing your outer boundaries and even come face to face with personal fears as you incorporate "seva" in your life. When I started volunteering to teach yoga at the Laurel House Shelter for abused women, I was so out of my comfort zone, feeling I had no connection or understanding of what these women were going through. But it was through countless yoga sessions, that I and the students experienced the joy of connecting through this safe haven of yoga.
Here are some yogic organizations that can point you in the direction of Seva. There are numerous local organizations to donate your time and awareness also.
Metta Meditation (Practicing Kindness and Compassion)
- Give Back Yoga Foundation - Have a great seva idea? Apply for funding here givebackyoga.org
- Street Yoga - Learn to teach yoga to at-risk youth and others in need. streetyoga.org
- YogaActivist.org - Seek service opportunities and connect with other yoga activist in this national online community. yogaactivist.org
- Karma Krew - Find a seva event, or organize your own, in your local community with this nationwide network. karmakrew.org
- Off the Mat Into the World - Join a seva challenge and learn how to be a leader. offthematintotheworld.org
Try this other affirmation/meditation at home. It can be very powerful to use when you feel overwhelmed with the events happening around us and in the world. Change the I to you, or a specific person, maybe someone your having difficulty with and to all beings everywhere.
May I (you)be protected and safe
May I be healthy and strong
May I be happy and at ease
May I care for myself (yourself) wisely
May I be at Peace
Relaxation/Meditation and Music CD Suggestions
I also wanted to thank you for bringing in your own blankets and pillows. If you enjoyed having your own blanket to cover you during the poses, feel free to bring them in for the next two classes.
With kindness and compassion,
Labels: Legs Up the Wall, Meditation and Music Suggestions, Reclined Bound Angle, Seva, Supported Revolved Twist, Three-Part Breath