The Yoga Cure: Restorative Yoga

This is the first in a series of short blogcasts about finding healing from the many facets of yoga. Listen here or read more below.

Restorative yoga is a practice that encourages you to move slowly and mindfully through only five or six poses. It was termed “restorative” since it prepared the body to move into positions that allow the muscles to relax by allowing your body to be fully supported by props like bolsters, blocks, and blankets. The poses you do in restorative yoga should not be unfamiliar to you, the only difference is that they are supported by props and held for short spans of time. Legs up the wall, corpse, pigeon, child’s post, standing and seated forward fold, etc. Props are used to support the body and allow you to sink into the postures without hesitation, so your muscles are not required to hold you and you can truly find rest.

You are instructed to hold each posture for about five to ten minutes on average, allowing yourself to switch sides and stretch in between postures. For the active mind, it can be very challenging to just stay and hold a posture for so long. I personally never loved holding poses and found it difficult to relax or close my eyes. I would eventually resign myself over to the practice usually by the third pose and by the end of the class walk away so relaxed that I had to sign-up for the next class.

Depending on the type of stress I had during the day or week, I would either only sign-up for the restorative class or choose to do a more active flow class beforehand. Like a meditation practice, set yourself up for success by having some active mental/physical exercise prior to the restorative class. If you are recovering from illness or injury, a restorative practice is a very gentle way to ease your body back into a practice. If you suffer from anxiety, stress, or migraines, joint issues, hormonal imbalances, restorative yoga can be a useful toolkit to add to your yoga toolbox. There are many different styles of restorative yoga out there, so it is important for you to explore the style and type of class that allows you to feel comfortable and find the most rest. If you don’t have time for a class or aren’t finding a great match, a home practice may be a good option for you. I would recommend starting out with a one-hour weekly practice or a 20 minute daily practice perhaps before bedtime.

As a special thank you to you, I am including a restorative yoga home practice which introduces using essential oils, 100% FREE to you.

Until next week,

Pavani

References

Judith Hanson Lasater PhD, PT, also lovingly known as the mother of restorative yoga, has written several books to guide practitioners through the uses of the poses and how to mindfully setup each posture. Her foundational background in Iyengar yoga, physical therapy, and physiology is reflected in these poses. In her popular restorative yoga books she covers the everyday practices as well as specific practices for those with special situations like anxiety, postpartum, pregnancy, back pain, depression, fatigue and stress.

Into the Sugarcane Field and Bamboo Forest

This week we focus on mindfulness and consider witnessing similar experiences that have stuck with us in some way.

Listen to this weeks blogcast here or read more below.

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Have you ever walked through a sugarcane field or a bamboo forest before? Both bamboo and sugarcane belong to the same species of plant standing tall like thick willowy stalks and growing in densely clustered groups. I remember running through sugarcane fields and feeling the piercing cuts of the rough leaves and smelling sweetness all around me. It was so overpowering that all I wanted to do was find a way out of the maze. However, in the midst of bamboo trees, I found shade and a sense of calm. I just wanted to linger in the middle of their beauty and enjoy the cool temperature and light filtering through the tall stalks.

Both sugarcane and bamboo ebb and flow in a gentle breeze, however have extensive root systems that allow them to bounce back and stand straight again. They are seemingly similar, but ever so different. I love how they appear to dance in the breeze and lean on each other as the chaos of wind or storm moves through them.

In yoga we often repeat the same series of asanas only to make our way into different poses. We may start out in warrior 2 and end up in triangle or half moon. We step our way through these sequences training our mind and body to prepare for these subtle transitions, cultivating a different experience each time. As we mature in our practice, these experiences change, but our muscle memory remains. Our muscle memory is like the root system of a bamboo and sugarcane. We may feel a bit tight and inflexible after taking a break from our practice, however discover that we still know how to move into the poses even if we have to rely on the support of props or our teacher. As we open and accept the changes in our practice, we start to relax into that familiar sense of calm.

If I were to go back to a sugarcane field today, I am certain my childhood impression would remain as a new one grows and strengthens the former memory. I would walk around a little wiser and more aware of my surroundings.

YOUR MINDFUL MOMENT

This week think about two events in your life that appear very similar, however your experience of each was strikingly different. Take a moment to recall how you were different in each situation and what stands out about each. Were there certain smells, sounds, or colors that stand out? Then take a moment to observe how you reacted without placing too much emphasis on why.

Unexpected encounters with Loving Kindness: The Breakfast Lady

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This week I wanted to share some impromptu experiences from my vacation a few weeks ago which I recorded on the spot (no makeup, no formality, just thoughts captured as they happened). The kindness and relate-ability of everyone we come across, especially when traveling, shows that we can have loving kindness in every moment.

The breakfast lady at the hotel we were staying at had several nuggets of wisdom to share as we were talking in the morning. The breakfast room was not particularly full, but the news was on and she was kind enough to entertain my son even though he was making a mess. She was a grandmother and knew just what to say to make him laugh. As the room cleared out, she suddenly asked if we wanted to change the channel and started sharing her experience about one day when there was nothing good on the news, the breakfast room was very full and you could literally cut the tension with a knife.

I took a moment to capture this moment so I wouldn’t forget. Check it out here along with this weeks quote from the Four Agreements Card Deck by Don Miguel Ruiz.

I loved how she reminded us that it is so important to disconnect in order to release the discomfort we might be holding onto. The moment that we let go, we start to feel like ourselves again and express that loving kindness in our interactions. She explained how the moment that they changed the channel, everyone in the room relaxed again and just started to eat and enjoy their breakfast.

Balance is an interval between two transitions

I have always observed that if you wait two weeks changes are bound to occur. You can think of this time as a recovery time between transitions. Finding balance is like this too. We are moving from point to point through states of balance, taking steps to transition into and out of poses that guide us to this place. There are always forces beyond ourselves that find ways to make us pause and take notice of our balance. We are experts at ignoring the signs and symptoms of imbalance because we just want to maintain our status quo.

Last week no matter how much I tried to deliver on my balance, it wasn’t happening. Even with the support of a wall or modifications there were other forces within myself at play that I could not yet connect with. I just went on to think, I was able to do this the week before, why not today? A doctor’s visit later that day made it clear why I was struggling. Regardless of the situation that brings you to this place, be it pain, fear, growth, or truth, the key is to learn to transition with grace. This week let’s take some rest and find a moment to pause and reflect.

Affirmations this week:

  • I am peaceful with life.

  • I choose to allow all of my experiences to be joyous and loving.

  • I release, I relax and let go.

  • I am safe in life.

Supported Fish (Salamba Matsyasana)

  • Time

    • 10 minutes with slow and easy breathing

  • Benefits

    • Opens (heart, shoulders, and lungs),

    • Balances (emotions, asthma, organs),

    • Relieves (constipation, menstrual pain, backache, anxiety) 

  • Setup

    • Sit up straight with your sacrum/lower back up against a bolster or thickly rolled blanket.

    • Lie back onto the bolster, supporting your upper back, neck, and head with additional blocks or pillows if needed. 

    • Stretch the legs out in front. 

    • This is a back bend, so bend the knees and keep feet flat on the floor for a more gentle variation.

    • When you are ready to move out of the pose roll over to one side and gently push yourself to a seated position.

  • Optional

    • Listen to meditative music/guided meditation

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Salamba Matsyasana reminds us that we are supported and to relax and let go.  Continue you to support yourself.      

Love,

Pavani


What a Pain in the Neck?

“It is with flexibility and ease that I see all sides of an issue. There are endless ways of doing things and seeing things. I am safe.“

Louise Hay

I can’t count how many times I have experienced a frustrating pain in my neck and shoulders that would continue to develop into a pinching pain in my upper back and reduced range of movement in my neck. Hours on the computer and just day-to-day repetitive motions often contributed to this pain which became so unbearable I could feel the pinch as I turned my neck while driving. Going to a chiropractor or getting a massage were only temporary fixes and they would recommend stretching as the best way to relieve this pain before it developed into severe pain.

Poses to Relieve that Pain

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