I’m feeling very grateful as I write this post; I’m just out of the most intensive 6 days of yoga teacher training yet. For the last 6 days I immersed myself in to my practice and study of yoga. The first two days were dedicated to the teacher training and the next three days were dedicated to practice and philosophy, with the last day dedicated to teacher training again. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to study with a very inspiring, advanced and amazing teacher Noah Maze and feel even more grateful to the people in my life that enabled this to happen.
It was tough, challenging, draining, and emotional at times but also very rewarding. Unfortunately with a new business I could not just drop everything so I was trying to juggle a few things at one time over these past few days (the running of NurturePod, coaching, teaching, meditation and of course my self-practice).
The three days of practice were intense which included many hours of yoga practice. The first 3 hours in the morning were deep; it enabled my body to go places I didn’t even think it was capable of. It was amazing to have all this time to practice yoga; I certainly don’t get such an opportunity in my day to day life.
On each of these days of practice when we returned from lunch we would do a set of restorative poses which assisted digestion. I found a new respect and love of restorative yoga over these days. It got me thinking of my 3 go to restorative poses I use regularly in my life and I wanted to share these with you. Don’t worry, you don’t need a mat or props, a towel/carpet can be used as your mat and objects around the house can be easily used as props. As we approach the silly season, life indeed steps up a notch and there seems to be never ending “to do” lists before Xmas is upon us. Lots of parties, commitments and extra stress during this time.
WHY PRACTICE RESTORATIVE YOGA?
Restorative yoga for me is like taking a little mini retreat in the comfort of my own home and yoga space. It’s a great way to let go of stresses from your everyday life. This kind of practice truly gives you the permission to just let go. I use props such as a yoga block, a bolster and blankets which help to support the body in releasing muscular tension. Don’t freak out though if your reading this and saying to yourself “but I don’t have any props”. You can easily substitute a stack of books for a block or some pillows instead of a bolster, there are always options and I will provide lots of suggestions below.
Restorative poses offer many benefits to both the body and the mind, for conditions ranging from insomnia to asthma to chronic pain to migraines to depression.
For example chest-opening poses, encourage breath and prana (our vital energy/life force) to flow through the entire body. Forward bends gently lengthen all the muscles of the back body. Restorative yoga practice will bring your whole body into a deeply calm and tranquil state, and will allow your mind to become quiet and meditative assisting your mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual bodies into blissful balance.
MY 3 GO TO RESTORATIVE YOGA POSES!
1. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall)
This pose is known as the great rejuvenator pose. It’s actually one of the most powerful of all the restorative poses and it’s my all-time favourite. If you have only time for one pose I strongly recommend this one. Also like the shoulder stand it has the wonderful ability to neutralise the body so when feeling tired this pose can help to boost your energy and it’s also a great pose for grounding your energy bringing you down to earth if you’re a little bit jumpy. This pose truly nourishes the nervous system and rejuvenates the circulatory system. This pose is very calming, and I recommend it to my clients who are suffering from insomnia, often from a “busy mind” that has a difficult time slowing down.
- Place the long edge of the yoga bolster (or one/two pillows) a couple of inches from the wall.
- Sit to the side of a wall.
- Press into your hands and slowly bring your legs up the wall.
- Rotate your torso so you are now facing the wall.
- Bend your knees a little, press into your hands, and gently push your buttocks closer to the wall (against the wall if you can and it feels comfortable). Your hips will be resting on the bolster.
- Rest your arms either out to the side, up alongside your head or hands can rest gently on your belly.
- Gently close your eyes and completely surrender. Allow your breath to become deep and slow.
- Remember this is a restorative pose so ensure you are comfortable so you reap the many benefits.
- When you are ready to come out, gently bend your knees toward your chest and roll to the right side. Take a few breaths there before gently coming up to a seated position.
**Note: This pose can be held for 2-3mins gradually building up to a longer session of 10-20mins.**[box type=”info”]
Contra-indications: Viparita Karani is an inversion, and as such should be avoided during menstruation. As with any inversion Viparita Karani should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma.If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.[/box]
2. Butterfly Pose
I was very lucky to attend a yin workshop earlier this year and we focused on this beautiful pose for nourishing our adrenals and kidneys. It stretches out the lower back and is a fantastic pose for the ladies for balancing our hormones and it’s also known for assisting with the regulation of periods and helps the ovaries function better. I feel deeply peaceful after this pose.
- Come to a seated position on your mat/towel.
- Bring the soles of your feet together and then gently slide them away from you until you form a diamond shape with your legs.
- Slowly begin to fold forward from your hips allowing your back to round.
- This is where I like to use a block (or a stack of books if you don’t have one) which I place on my feet and gently allow my forehead to rest on the block. Hands can be rested out in front.
**Note: This pose can be held for 3-5mins gradually building up to a longer session of 10-20mins if desired.**[box type=”info”]
Contra-indications: If you have sciatica, elevate the hips by sitting on a cushion, until the knees are below the hips, or avoid this pose entirely. If you have any lower back disorders do not allow the spine to round, keep the back as straight as you can. Avoid dropping the head down if the neck has suffered whiplash or has reverse curvature.[/box]
3. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
I love this pose, its used in class as a resting pose in between other poses. Child’s pose releases the shoulders, chest, hips and lower back. It lengthens and stretches the spine, calms the body and mind and alleviates stress and anxiety. This pose is especially great after the practice of back bends as a counter pose. The spleen and stomach meridians are compressed while the kidneys and urinary bladder meridians are stretched. I love to use a bolster length ways between my thighs and I lie my whole belly on it, while I’m practicing restorative yoga at home. Don’t worry if you don’t have a yoga bolster, you can use 2-3 pillows instead.
- Come to all fours on your mat/towel.
- Take your knees roughly mat distance apart.
- Ensure your big toes are touching and your heels are apart.
- Place your bolster (pillows) length-ways and between your legs.
- Sit your buttocks back on your heels.
- Fold forward and rest your belly and torso on your bolster/pillows. Rest your head to one side, turning the head at the halfway way mark.
- Rest your arms out in front with the palms facing down or by the side of your body with the palms facing up. Do which ever one feels more comfortable.
**Note: This pose can be held for 3-5mins gradually building up to a longer session if desired. After the half way mark be sure to turn your head to the other side so you balance both sides. **[box type=”info”]
Contra-indications: If you have knee issues, you may need to place a towel or blanket between thighs and calves or avoid the pose altogether.[/box]
I invite you to try these beautiful restorative poses and I hope that you feel centered, calm and relaxed afterwards.
Love, Light and Lots of Happiness,
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