Restore by Release

Take ten minutes tonight and try one or two of these poses. All are restorative, meaning you support yourself in a position facilitating physical release and you surrender to the pose over time, usually about five minutes. Prepare your surroundings with candles, music, scent. Use a folded hand towel for an eye pillow. Focus on your breath. Begin by allowing the belly to expand in every direction, opening the abdomen to allow room for your organs as your diaphragm pulls downward. After a few minutes of focusing on your belly, imagine your breath beginning just in front of your sacrum, inhaling the breath rises along a channel in front of your spine until it swirls in your head. Exhale, the breath flows down the same channel, exiting in front of your sacrum.

Supported Balasana (Child’s Pose): sit with your feet folded under your buttocks, knees wide. With a bolster or blankets folded in front of you for support, hinge your torso forward and lie your belly and chest on the support, arms alongside. Turn your head to one side. Feel your body move as you breathe.

Supported Bridge: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor hip width apart. Raise your pelvis up, having support (bolster, stack of blankets, block) handy to place under your sacrum or pelvis. Allow your torso to slant gently toward your shoulders on the ground. Arms angle down from shoulders to hands open to the sky.

Setu Baddha Konasana (Bound angle pose): Sitting upright, perhaps with hips elevated on a blanket, place the soles of the feet together in cobbler or butterfly pose (this was a favorite of mine when I was a little girl… I remember doing it with my Mother). Arrange the bolster, blankets or pillows behind you so that you can recline your torso with your arms opening down from the shoulders, palms releasing upwards. If your knees are above the ground, support them with blocks or soft blankets.

Vitparita Karani (Legs up the wall): Place a bolster or a stack of three folded blankets 6-8 inches away from the wall. Sit on one end with a shoulder toward the wall, facing away from the stack. Place opposite hand on floor and rolling down to your back swing your legs up parallel to the wall. Your tailbone will sink into the space between the support and the wall. You may keep your legs up or open them out to a great “V” or place the soles of the feet together in cobbler or butterfly. Arms angle gently down, again, from the shoulders, hands realeasing toward the sky.

Finish in Savasana, or Corpse pose, on your back, legs apart, feet flopping out, arms out a bit to the side of the hips again, hands open to the sky, eyes closed. Keep returning to breath. Breathe. Breathe. Let breath breathe you. Namaste.

Restorative Practice

Restorative Yoga is Bramacharya at work: preservation of life force. Bramacharya is one of the yogic values expressed in the eight limbed path.

The difference between restorative & any other style of yoga is both intensity of effort and duration in poses. Rather than working with muscular opposition, hugging in, radiating out, spirals, loops, etc you create a space for your body to melt into the pose. The time spent in both preparation and melting can more greatly emphasize the already meditative possibilities in asana practice. It’s useful to warm the body up to the practice with chandra namaskar – moon salutaions. There’s a jpeg of Chandra Namaskar from a year or so ago below.  http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7026/3210/1600/Moon%20Salutations.jpg

Even more than usual, its helpful to work near your minimum edge  when entering intentionally restorative asana. Rather than finding the maximum opening of the hip or shoulder joint and supporting it there, find the very first place you feel what might be tension. Let it resolve before moving deeper with breath and intent. Do this until you find a spot with a little more edge than that first, and support the body at that edge, allowing the opening to happen gradually and enjoying the support you’ve created for yourself.

As always, your breath is crucial – smoothness is key here. Notice all parts of your torso, as their expansion in every direction (not just forward) is part of drawing the breath fully into your lungs as well as emptying. Notice the pauses between breathing in & breathing out, rest in the fullness and release respectively.

Some poses I’m looking forward to after a bit of reflective reading, sutra chanting  and warming movement are side lying over bolsters, twists over bolsters, wide legged forward bend, supported balasana (child’s pose), janu sirsasana, supported reclining virasana, shoulderstand, supta baddha konasana (reclining cobblers pose w/ feet together, torso draped back over nice, plump bolster) and vitparita karani – legs up the wall.  Ahhhhhhh…

Do you ever indulge in the gift of restorative asana?  My ideal is to  have at least one practice a week like this. What are your experiences with staying in supported poses for extended periods of time?

Restoration

 Ahhhhhhhhhhh…. 

Besides a weekend with my hubby, I’ve had a pretty vigorous daily practice for weeks now. Amazing and life-restoring as this is, I’m craving balance. A couple of weeks ago my partner remarked to me “your dan tien is low” (the ex-massage therapist – how does he know?!? does he have a tienoscope???). He was right. The really focused firey vinyasa style yoga has been a blessing, but today, my own tienoscope says restorative yoga it is! Bramacharya at work: preservation of life force.

The difference between restorative & any other style of yoga is both intensity of effort and duration in poses. Rather than working with muscular opposition, hugging in, radiating out, spirals, loops, etc you create a space for your body to melt into the pose. The time spent in both preparation and melting can more greatly emphasize the already meditative possibilities in asana practice. It’s useful to warm the body up to the practice with chandra namaskar – moon salutaions. There’s a jpeg of Chandra Namaskar from a year or so ago on my other blog – yogaguide.wordpress.com.

Even more than usual, its helpful to work near your minimum edge  when entering intentionally restorative asana. Rather than finding the maximum opening of the hip or shoulder joint and supporting it there, find the very first place you feel what might be tension. Let it resolve before moving deeper with breath and intent. Do this until you find a spot with a little more edge than that first, and support the body at that edge, allowing the opening to happen gradually and enjoying the support you’ve created for yourself.

As always, your breath is crucial – smoothness is key here. Notice all parts of your torso, as their expansion in every direction (not just forward) is part of drawing the breath fully into your lungs as well as emptying. Notice the pauses between breathing in & breathing out, rest in the fullness and release respectively.

Some poses I’m looking forward to after a bit of reading and warming movement are side lying over bolsters, wide legged forward bend, supported balasana (child’s pose), supported reclining virasana, shoulderstand, supta baddha konasana (reclining cobblers pose w/ feet together, torso draped back over nice, plump bolster) and vitparita karani – legs up the wall.  Ahhhhhhh…

Do you ever indulge in the gift of restorative asana?  My ideal is to  have at least one practice a week like this (obviously, in three I haven’t lived that ideal… I’ll have to pay closer attention). What are your experiences with staying in supported poses for extended periods of time?