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November 21 & 27 Restore Series

Good Frosty afternoon all.  This week's blog is a combination of our practice from last week and this week.  Now you will have a multitude of poses to enjoy and relax with.

The Inspiration

I have been playing this little game that I call "Pass It On".  It really is not a game but when I explain to my two girls what I am doing, calling it a game just seems so much more fun to them.  It goes something like this. When I make a purchase (small one), let's say for example, a coffee at WAWA, or a food item somewhere else, I leave a few extra dollars for the next customer in line.  Trusting that the salesclerk is honest, the next customer will receive a little gift.  My hope is that they will pass it on, this kindness, this love, even if it is retelling the story of someone thinking of them.

Can it make a difference?  Will it change the world in which we live in?  I don't have any scientific data to prove it will.  Do I feel good when I do good? Yes, and that feeling spreads to my day to day interaction with others.  Could this little gift to someone be the difference in how they act towards someone?  All a possibility.  And it is in the possibility that I continue.  For obvious financial reasons, my anonymous gifts have to be spaced out and kept at a minimum amount, or I would go broke.  

Perhaps give this a try next time you are getting your cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  Or maybe you don't, that is okay, but pause and think of the reaction of someone that just got your "Pass It On".  One more thing, if I am giving a dollar bill, I will write "Pass It On" on the bill.

I can't resist this song from the Wailers - Pass It On!

The Poses

Supported Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirasana Supported)
Props: bolster, block, 1 blanket rolled up, 3 blankets, neck rolls
Benefits: Stretch hamstrings, low back, ease the symptoms of sciatica, hip opener, aids digestive system, ease anxiety.

Set up one blanket to sit on. Sit on blanket. Come into pose with one leg extended and the other leg bent with foot against inner thigh of extended leg.  Take rolled blanket and place under knee of extended leg. Place bolster along side this leg and snuggle it against your abdomen.  Block goes under far end of bolster to keep it stable. Place a neck roll under extended ankle for comfort. Add additional blankets on top of bolster, so you can easily rest your forehead down without strain to your neck.  Support forearms and hands on edges of rolled up blanket if space.  Breath in and extend upper body as far forward as you can until you are on bolster. Take a few deep breaths to adjust to pose, grow comfortable. Make any adjustments with more blankets or neck rolls for the head.  5-7 minutes on each side.  Shake legs out between sides.

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Props: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, a bolster for behind legs
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 or on a bolster with blankets on top to bring knees into a 90 degree angle.

Wide Angle Forward Fold
Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
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 and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

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.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Legs on the Chair Pose
Props: chair, 2-3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: Sandbag, Webkinz stuffed animals
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen.  Blanket on belly or legs.

Place a blanket on chair so you don't feel the hard surface.  If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the seat of the chair as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor.  Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up.  Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I've used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy.  Stay for up to 10 minutes.  Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes.  Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.

Savasana on Belly with Lumbar Support (No photo yet)
Props: blanket, neck roll
Benefits: gives lumbar spine support, ease strain on sacral ilium area, good for digestion, full release of the body to gravity with low back pain. Return the body to a state of balance after your practice.

Place a double or triple folded blanket under your abdomen as you belly down on the mat. Legs extended, muscles released.  Fold arms under head and rest forehead on them.  Modify arm/head position for most comfort.

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November 8 Restore

The Poses

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.
Props: bolster, 1-2 blankets, block Sit on a folded blanket and extend legs out in front of you. Place bolster lengthwise along the legs adding a blanket or block to top as headrest. Lay your upper body on bolster and rest your forehead on blanket or block. Arms can drape on bolster, along side or any other comfortable position. 

Bridge Pose - Supported
Props:4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow, can also use bolster for more stretch Extras: blanket for warmth Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases ox…

November 29 Restore

Deep Thoughts not Deep Pockets
Within the past two weeks, I have been a driven Christmas shopper.  I cringe as I think about my credit card bill at month's end. I have savings for but it still will be a jaw dropper.  As I have been gathering gifts for others in my closet and mentally going through the wish lists, I have come to the conclusion that this Christmas has a theme.  Unbeknownst to the people on my gift list, this theme has everything to do with Comfort and Ease.  Without going into the gift list (just in case prying eyes may see this), 99.9% of the gifts that I have bought, could bring some comfort or ease to a person's life.  Think snuggly, warm things.  Or gifts that make a persons life a bit easier.  I didn't intend to go this direction but honestly, maybe it is me that needs some comfort and ease right now.  If I need some, perhaps others do as well.   I am not going down that political road, but there is a lot of unease out there.  Whatever party, candidate, …