The world in which we live today is filled with modern conveniences that function faster than ever before. Information is available to us at just the touch of a finger. Our lives are flooded with fast-paced movement, internet speeds, download times, commute times, lunch times, food fast, and quick turn-around times, leaving us stressed and staggering from the movement. To heal from these effects, find equilibrium and return to your natural and balanced state you simply need to slow down, calm down, relax and restore. Taking time out each day to find this balance is an essential part of living well.
The best medicine for stress is deep relaxation.
Enter, restorative yoga.
Restorative Yoga is active relaxation, in which there is no movement, no effort in the body or in the mind. This state is different from the dream state in which the body can experience muscular tension, as well as physiological tension, dreaming. In a state of deep relaxation, you can actively and deeply find the antidote for stress. Just breathe naturally, relax and restore your body and mind.
Restorative Posture #1: Supta Baddha Konasana = Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Often called the “Snake-Oil” pose of Restorative Yoga. After 20 minutes, you’ll understand why. Open tight hips, soften the belly, broaden through the sternum and collarbones, and relax the shoulders back and down with this widely loved and practice Restorative Yoga posture. Don’t let the lengthy set-up deter you from practicing this posture, it’s totally worth it!
blocks x 2
yoga-blankets x 4
large bolster x 1
eye pillow x 1
- At the head space of your mat, set 2 blocks 6″ apart from each other. One on the medium height, the other on the shortest height. Place the large bolster on top of the blocks, the tallest height will be under your head.
- Fold 2 yoga-blankets individually in half 4 times (fringe to fringe, fringe to fringe, fold to fringe, and then fringe to fringe). These will serve as hand support.
- Fold 1 yoga-blanket in half 3 times, on the longest side. This will serve as a bind to create resistance and support around the ankles and under each femur.
- Fold 1 yoga-blanket in half 4 times (fringe to fringe, fringe to fringe, fold to fringe, and then a short fold fringe to fringe to create a stair-step). The head and neck will be cradled within this support.
- Sit in front of the block and bolster support, legs extended forward, with your tailbone backed up to the edge of the bolster. Slightly forward fold and inch your way back until your tailbone is right against the bolster. It is important to remove any space between the props and tailbone. Lay back and settle into the head support. Let the soles of your feet come together as your knees bend to each side allowing your legs to make a diamond shape. Use the long fold blanket around the ankles and slightly tucked under your legs to create resistance and support. Use folded blankets to support your arms and hands on either side.
- Cover your eyes with a small and light-weight eye pillow.
Posture #2: Supported Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This essential yoga posture will support the entire length of the body. The support under the knees and Achilles Tendon will help relieve lower back tension and allow you to completely sink into the props.
blocks x 2 (optional)
yoga-blankets x 2-4
large bolster x 1
eye pillow x 1
Contra-Indications: sunburn, pregnancy, pacemaker, acid reflux, cough, PTSD, inflictions when laying down
- Fold 1 yoga-blanket in half 4 times (fringe to fringe, fringe to fringe, fold to fringe, and then a short fold fringe to fringe to create a stair-step). The head and neck will be cradled within this support. The chin should be slightly lower than the forehead.
- Fold 1 yoga-blanket in half 3 times and make a tight long roll.
- Slide the rolled blanket under your Achilles Tendons, the large bolster under your knees and the stair-step folded blanket under your head and neck. Lay back and use folded blankets or blocks to support your hands on either side, your elbows should touch the ground.
- Cover your eyes with a small and light-weight eye pillow. Relax and enjoy!
When practiced daily, these Restorative Yoga postures will help you heal the effects of stress and return to your natural and balanced state. Take time out each day to relax and restore!
Val Brown is a teacher at Wanderlust Austin.