“When nothing is flowing. Do nothing. Your soul is craving space to be heard” Carole
Restorative yoga is an internal practice with significant capacity to balance the nervous system and our emotional health.
There is a magnificent subtle communication constantly taking place when you surrender deeply in restorative yoga. A welcomed gentle internal dialogue occurs between your yoga bolster, blankets, blocks and eye pillow to the neurological and physiological systems of your body.
All props, while motionless and seemingly passive in their appearance are continually encouraging and coaxing – ever so gently – your muscles, your skin, your organs, your mind and beyond to soften, let go and relax even more deeply. You subtly feel or sense layers between your skin and bones.Your body responds effortlessly as it intuitively knows what to do when given the space to profoundly relax.
Amazingly restorative yoga and it’s seemingly random use of props – blankets, bolsters, eye pillows, sandbags etc- are incredibly balancing, healing and deeply replenishing to the energy systems in your body. Your digestive, immune and nervous systems benefit enormously.
Each piece of physical support from the props has a clear and distinct purpose. They are carefully placed on, under, over and around your body to achieve their higher purpose – profound deep rest which then flows into profound deep healing.
I so love the fact that anyone, any age with absolutely no yoga experience can enjoy restorative yoga’s, replenishing and rejuvenating qualities – it’s especially great for illness and injuries as well as exhaustion and emotional upset.
It’s for all these reasons restorative yoga is a vital and deeply important part at all my Slow Yoga Retreats.
In case you were wondering, the picture above is of me (Carole) at a 4 day intensive, a few months back with my restorative yoga teacher Judith Lasater visiting Australia from California. I again feel blessed to have been on another intensive with Judith.
Alternately you could always enjoy a whole 5 days of restorative yoga at one of my retreats. Now, that would be such fun!
Release fatigue, counteract slouching and uplift your mood:
Laying with head, shoulders and spine along a bolster – bottom on the floor – and souls of the feet touching and legs opening out to the sides (as shown in picture below) is one of my favourite restorative yoga postures. I find the benefits can change from day to day depending on how my body is travelling and where I’m needing to let go and release.
Some days I have my legs straight out in front, other days crossed or souls of feet together.
Here’s a few of the benefits I’ve personally experienced.
* Gently stretches the diaphragm creating the space for a much deeper inhale. A tight tense diaphragm will restrict your breath and of course oxygen intake along with tensing the brain.
* Gives space to organs so they can receive a healthier blood and oxygen flow. When slouching the front of the body sinks inwards, squishing the liver, stomach and other organs, restricting blood flow and effecting your organs efficiency.
* Helps in the letting go of anxiety or stress being held in the front of the body. Opening the chest and heart helps uplift your mood, let go of what’s weighing heavy on our shoulders and generally feel more open and spacious.
* Supports your digestion. Lifting and raising the stomach area stimulates the digestive system.
* Opens your heart chakra stimulating more joyful feelings. When we round our shoulders we also tend to protect our hearts and perhaps unintentionally suppress or hold in feelings that weigh heavy on our heart. Opening the heart chakra encourages us to breath into the front of the body – release what needs to be released.
* Helps dissolve tiredness and fatigue. When the body surrenders to the weight of the bolster and the breath moves more deeply into the body – exhaustion and tensions start to dissolve. Remember to breath in spaciousness on the inhale and release and let go on the exhale.
* Releases tension in your shoulders and neck. A gently opening happens as the arms fall off the sides of the bolster helping to release tightness in the upper part of the body. The longer you stay in this posture the more spaciousness is created.
Deepen your experience to the above pose by adding more props:
To encourage your body to release and let go even more deeply (using the above posture as a starting point) you could easily add:
* Blanket under your head if your neck felt too open or extended. It’s important that the chin is always slightly lower than the forehead so as not to stimulate the thinking.
* Blankets under each hand and wrist – necessary if your wrists are lifting off the ground.
* Rolled blankets/cushions under each thigh if the stretch on the hips is too strong.
* If you shoulders or upper chest hurts in anyway you could easily use a few single folded blankets instead of a bolster so you don’t have as much height. Alternately place blankets or cushions under your arms giving them height until the strain or pressure is relieved from your shoulders.
* Most importantly always listen to your body. It knows.
You might also like to read:
* A quiet mind – another great use for your yoga bolster
* Rest is not a weakness it’s essential – crocodile pose – one of my favourites for calming a restless body
On my bedside table:
Judith Lasater has been teaching restorative yoga for over 20 years. Her book is a great place to start learning oreven fine tune your Restorative Yoga postures. It covers postures for headaches, menopause, stress, back pain, pregnancy and more. I so love this book- Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times.
You can also grab Carole’s daily rejuvenation tip by clicking here
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