Most asana is active. But there is this deliciously sweet (and way better for you than those holiday goodies) subset of poses called restorative yoga. Instead of doing, these are poses of being. Restorative yoga teaches us how to relax deeply and completely.
Judith Lasater, who literally wrote the book on Restorative yoga says, “During deep relaxation, all the organ systems of the body are benefited, and a few of the measurable results of deep relaxation are the reduction of blood pressure, serum triglycerides and blood sugar levels in the blood, the increase of the ‘good cholesterol’ levels, as well as improvement in digestion, fertility, elimination, the reduction of muscle tension, insomnia and generalized fatigue.”
Who doesn’t need something on that list?! During this busy Holiday month it is so important we take the time to relax deeply. So, each week I’ll be featuring a different restorative pose. Try practicing one of them every day at the end of your regular asana practice. This week’s pose is basic relaxation with the legs elevated. It is delicious!
This may seem like a lot of props, but they are instrumental in encouraging your body to surrender to relaxation.
Here’s what you need:
- Yoga mat
- 1 folding chair with an open back or an ottoman
- 1 eye bag
- 1 strap or 10 lb. sandbag
- 4 blankets in the traditional fold (Judith Lasater calls this “Tadasana” for the blanket) as pictured here:
Slightly unfold one of the blankets, leaving it stair-stacked, as pictured with the yellow blanket below. Place it at the top of your mat.
Place the chair or ottoman at the other end of your mat.
Fold two blankets nearly in half, leaving them stair-stacked, as pictured below. Place one on each side of your mat near the base of the chair or ottoman.
Place the last blanket, the sandbag or strap and the eye bag beside your mat.
In the Pose
Lie down and place your lower legs and feet on the chair or ottoman. The back of the knees should be resting on the edge of the chair. (If the chair is too high, position a few blankets under your hips.)
To anchor your legs and allow the muscles of the legs to relax completely, place a sand bag on top of the ankles or loop a strap around the lower legs.
Position yourself on the top blanket so the bottom edge of the blanket comes under your shoulders. Roll the sides of the top layer under to support your head.
Cover up with the extra blanket. Place the eye bag over your eyes.
Lastly, tuck your hands into the blankets at your sides. The wrists should be supported by the bottom layer (you can roll up the sides to support them). Tuck the hands into the top layer.
Choose to surrender. Release all holding and tension into the props and the floor beneath you. Surrender all action, all doing. Choose to surrender over and over again for the next 10 – 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Can you give yourself permission to actively do nothing? What is your favorite restorative pose? I’d love to hear!
P.S. This post is part of a series on the basics of many of the most common poses. Look here for additional posts in this series.
P.P.S. You can find a certified restorative yoga teacher in your area in this directory.