Let’s face it. When we are on travel and staying at someone else’s house or in a hotel and doing all the running around that comes with visiting or working or sightseeing out of town, we can get out of balance. This disruption of routine can upset our sleep and our digestion. You don’t need the exact collection of pillow shown in these photos. The point is that you can use whatever pillows and blankets (or even towels or your own coat or sweater to make the shapes of yoga bolsters and blankets) to do a nourishing and balancing restorative practice. I like to travel with a hot water bottle in the colder months; there is little more comforting than yoga restoratives with a hot water bottle.
1. Legs up the headboard (sometimes there isn’t enough room on the floor to do any yoga even to do vipariti karani (legs up the wall pose)). Here, pillows are stacked against the head of the bed because it otherwise would be uncomfortable (and risky for the art over the bed). I suggest this pose first to surrender to being turned upside down, to undo the effects of gravity and too much walking around and carrying things, to relieve the legs and feet and to allow more energy to recenter itself in the heart. Stay for 10 minutes, or even longer.
2. Supported twist. Start with your left thigh against the pillow stack, so that the energy follows the natural direction of the large colon, thereby helping relieve the impact of travel disruption to the digestion. The gentle twist also wrings the adrenals, allowing them to release the toxicity of travel and disrupted diet. After 7-10 minutes, switch to the other side with the right thigh perfectly parallel to the pillows before bowing forward.
3. Balasana. Place a pillow or two between your heels and your seat. With your toes touching and knees wide apart, bring a couple of pillows, or folded blankets between your knees back to mid-thigh and then bow forward over the support, adjusting your makeshift props as needed to feel at ease in the pose. The pose invites a fullness in the back body, letting the adrenals rejuvenate after the cleansing action of the twists. This is good. Stay for 10-12 minutes or so, remembering to turn your head to the other side half way through.
4. Supported supta badha konasana (bound angle pose). After you’ve relieved the feet and legs, nurtured the digestion and the adrenals, now is the moment to surrender to bliss (ananda) and open the heart to being right where you are–wherever that might be. Key for this pose is to make sure that the support under your back is right up against your sacrum. Shown by the fabulous yogini model are three possible ways to use the hot water bottle. I wouldn’t have thought to put it on my face, but she delighted in that idea, and I can see how it would be good for sinuses stressed by travel.
As with any physical practice, you should approach even gentle poses such as these with appropriate awareness, honoring your own body’s limits. If you want to learn how to practice yoga asana safely and optimally, it is best to take classes to supplement a personal practice.