Thank you for spending your Memorial Day with us. I hope that the little break in your afternoon will give you a feeling for what a restorative yoga practice is all about. Of course, there is much much more but with continued practice, it can become part of your daily activity.
We covered some basic restorative poses in our workshop yesterday which even when practicing one or two for 5 minutes a day, can bring on that "Remembered Wellness". Enjoy looking through these poses and some of the others. Experiment with the use of the props and even create your very own pose.
Please check out some of the other Blog entries for other poses, breathwork, tips on journaling, Seva, Intention or Sankalpa and high-tech places to find relaxation.
Mountain Brook Pose
Props: bolster, 2-3 blankets, block, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.
Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft one!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing. It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.
On your mat, place the bolster will your knees will be, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), a block for the feet or the heels can come to the floor and a neck roll for the cervical spine. Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up. If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel. Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes. Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves. Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket. Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.
Supported Childs Pose
Props: bolster, two blocks, 2-3 blankets
Benefits: gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind. Gives a sense of security.
Place the two blocks under bolster, height depends on your comfort, equidistant from each other. If more comfortable, do not use blocks under the bolster. Lay a s-fold or triple-fold blanket on top of the bolster. Legs straddle the bolster at one end. Inhale to lengthen body over the bolster, head rests on the props. Additional blankets may be used behind the knees, at ankles, laying on the lower back, under knees, between pelvic area and props. See what is comfortable for you and adjust. Feel the support of the props and release muscular tension especially along the sacrum and lower back. Stay here for 10 minutes, slowly turning head to other side when needed.
Supported Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
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.
Legs Up the Wall
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: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, maybe a bolster (see photo)
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from 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 sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8" from wall (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower down, swing your legs up the wall. Once in the pose, you can adjust distance to wall, angle of legs to all, blanket and placement of legs all for comfort. Hips and tailbone will be in space between wall and blanket. Arms rest by your side, palms face up or variation with Goddess arms (photo above).
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag to hang from soles of the feet. Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs. Tight hamstrings or really uncomfortable with legs directly up the wall? Try a bolster angled into the wall to rest legs on, add blankets for more support or move hips further from wall. Another variation is Legs up on a Chair.
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.
Labels: Childs Pose, Legs Up the Wall, Mountain Brook Pose, Reclined Bound Angle, Supported Revolved Twist