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Oct. 11, 2011 Restore Series

The neighborhood is quiet, no humming of mowers, no weedwackers wacking - ahhhhh..... quiet.  Wait, within the quiet is a symphony of sound.  I witness the bees buzzing around the bush in front of me, buzz, buzz.  A conversation three houses down about football.  My mums reaching for the last remaining rays of daylight.  Finally the crickets add their own chorus summoning the end of a day.  I try as I may but there is no silence, there is always a hum, a vibration out there.  My moment in all of this cacophony is to find stillness not silence.

The Breath
Coming into the Now
Listen to your breath, hear the air come in and go out. Feel the qualities of this breath, the sound, the temperature, the sensation in your nostrils, any vibrations and movement made in your body as the breathes moves through you.  Now tune into the bones, the muscles of your body, the blood flow, your heartbeat.
Practice for Releasing Fear
Lie down in a comfortable spot or sit comfortably in a chair. Inhale and let your belly expand, hold for a few seconds, then exhale quickly through your mouth. Place one hand on your solar plexus and one on your heart center. Take a few slow deep breaths into your solar plexus and relax that area.  Then take a few slow deep breaths into your heart center and relax it as well.  Be present with whatever comes up without judging it. If it is fear that comes up, make space for it and release. (Source: Yoga Journal 10/2011)

The Poses
Supported Wide Angle Forward Fold

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets, neck roll (optional)
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body.
Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Forehead can be resting on a neck pillow or turn side to side on props. Arms can be by sides of props, resting on legs or if using blocks under the props.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Stay for 20 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with .

Supta Baddakonasana (Supported Bound Angle)

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.

Reclined Hero's or Half Hero's Pose, Supported

Benefits: Can improve your ability to breathe better while resting and break up some congestion. Reduce anxiety due to breathing problems. Relieves pressure in the head from sinus problems. Reduce fatigue in the legs from walking or standing. And relieve indigestion and nausea by lifting the diaphragm off the stomach and liver. 
Props: bolster, two blocks, pillow, 3-4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow. Extra: hand towels.
Precautions: This is a very intense stretch through the quadriceps. Limit the time in it to 3 minutes at the most. May cause discomfort in tops of your feet. If you feel a sharp pull or pain in or around the knees, come out of the pose right away.*

*Note: It is best to try out the seated variation of Hero's beforehand to see how much support you may need under support you may need to sit on.  Kneel with your legs hip-width apart and feet pointing straight back. Gently sit down with your buttocks resting solidly between your legs on the floor. If you can sit easily and do not feel any discomfort in your knees, ankles or feet, proceed to supported Heros. If not, try sitting on a block, or a folded blanket stacked. If knees are still uncomfortable, come up on shins and reach down and gently pull the calf muscles away from the knees and sit back down. If ankles need extra support, place a rolled up towel under each. 

Create an incline with two blocks under bolster and place a folded blanket at lower end of bolster. Add a folded blanket to top end of bolster. Come to lower end of bolster and sit in Heros pose. Carefully, lower yourself onto bolster support with back on bolster and head on upper blanket. Fill in any gaps where you feel discomfort in back with blankets or hand towels.  Some student may prefer to have bolster at a slightly vertical incline against the wall. Create a pillow with blankets at top then.  Arms can rest on single-fold blankets at either side or with palms up on legs. 

Variation - try with one leg extended and one bent into Heros pose. Switch legs after 2 minutes.

Philly Area Restorative Offerings
When you just need a little more restorative in your life, try these other classes in the area.
Sun Dog Yoga in Doylestown
Prancing Peacock in Yardley
Yoga Garden in Narberth
Kripalu On-line Classes

Journal Question
I AM......................


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Supported Forward Fold with Legs Extended (Paschimottasana)
Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed. Massage for the digestive system.
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Bridge Pose - Supported
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