Tag Archive: restorative yoga

Vipariti Karani

I just finished day two of three of training in “Coaching and Mentoring for Excellence.” It’s at the OPM building, which is just a couple of blocks west of the White House. Given rush hour commuting traffic and where the building and my house are situated relative to mass transportation, it doesn’t take much more time to walk-especially if I jog intermittently-the just over three miles each way. (See posts on Facebook and Instagram to see photos). I also took a walk at lunch.

Sometimes–for those of us fortunate enough to have a safe comfortable space and be healthy and well-nourished–nothing suits like several intentional minutes in vipariti karani (legs up the wall pose). Time to relieve my feet and legs after all that walking on pavement, even with the right shoes; time to be still and quiet, after a day of interpersonal exercises with strangers.

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Anahata Chakra (Part II)

At yoga class tonight, a couple of students advised of challenges with neck and shoulders; another was very tired. After we had centered and done some gentle warm-ups, I led the class into this simple restorative backbend. In the pose, a rolled up blanket (or even a towel or two) is placed across the back, right at the bottom of the shoulder blades, so that the roll firms the shoulder blades onto the back and allows the heart to open, the collarbones to broaden, and the shoulders to drape to the floor. The yogin keeps the legs somewhat active in supta tadasana–supine mountain–pose to make more easeful opening the back and chest.

It was a good day for a quiet, nurturing practice designed to move us into our hearts. When we are faced with tragedy and outrage, but are not personally harmed, it is even more important that we choose to get deeper into our hearts. It is a time when it is good to choose to practice (whatever the practice) to foster clarity of vision, improve individual health and strength, and ground ourselves in a space where we can expand the possibility of responding with compassion, generosity, and common sense instead of unthinkingly reacting out of fear and rage.

Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Guest Bedroom Restorative Yoga

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thinking About Restoratives! (Web Version of E-Mailing)

Dear Friends,

Not long after the slush from last night melted in the early afternoon rain, the precipitation falling had started turning into the dreaded wintry mix.  Thunder clapped and the sky was dark, and I have been mighty grateful all day that I was able to work from my warm home.  It is all snow now — quite beautiful.  It is inevitable that I will be out shoveling early tomorrow morning, though whether it will be three or four inches or 8-10 remains to be seen.  It will be heavy underneath.  This is a wet snow.  I will be following my own advice on yoga alignment for snow shoveling (that appeared in December 2010’s edition of Yoga Journal).

It is on nights like this that I find myself planning a good restorative practice.  What could be better after a dark storm and some heavy duty shoveling to surrender to the blissful support of blankets and bolsters, find the sweetness of your breath, shift into optimal alignment, and find a space of deep relaxation.  If this sounds like a dream come true or you want to know what is all the fuss about restoratives, you are in luck.  This coming Saturday, is the first of the winter session series of restorative workshops with me at Willow Street Yoga:

Relaxing into Optimal Alignment with Anusara Restoratives, Saturdays, January 29, February 26, and March 26, 2:30-4:30p, Willow Street Yoga Center, Takoma Park, $30 each (All 3 Saturdays = $75)
After a little gentle stretching and self-massage to bring awareness to the breath and body, we will enjoy the exquisite application of Anusara’s® Universal Principles of Alignment to restful and supported restorative postures to release old patterns and invite in the new to find greater ease of body and mind.  A great workshop and practice for all levels; sign up for the full three-class series and save $15!

Be safe, stay warm, enjoy being snowed in for now if you can, practice gratitude for being able to be snowed in, and delight in dreaming about how wonderful it will be to go on a mini-in town treat of a retreat with two hours of restorative yoga.  Hope to see you.

Peace and light,

Elizabeth

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A Trip to the Spa, Restorative Yoga (and Serenity Saturday at Capitol Hill Yoga)

A few weeks ago, when I was planning how to use my “use or lose” vacation time, recognizing that I could not take a long vacation because of the pressures of a project that is supposed to go fully public at the end of the year, I scheduled a long spa treatment for this afternoon.  When I woke up and reviewed the day of the week and the month to remember what was on the schedule for today, I remembered my spa appointment, and the thought of surrendering to luxury and relaxation brought a big smile to my whole being.  I got up and meditated, did a little asana, and started getting ready for work.  I will shortly walk into the office and work hard to make it possible to leave early without stress.  I planned this mini-retreat for myself because I know I get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the parties and the expectations of the holidays and that some time out would help keep me in good cheer for all that was to come.

I have also been doing lots of restorative yoga in the evenings before bed — especially after a day when there has been a party — just to settle down and let myself release all the chatter.  If you are feeling like it is all a little too much (whether you think the holidays are the best or end up with challenges, it can still be a bit much), take some time to practice vipariti karani (legs up the wall) and a few of your other restorative poses.  If you’re in town, do join me (friends, family, and guests welcome) at Serenity Saturday at Capitol Hill Yoga for two blissfully uninterrupted hours of restorative yoga.

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Serenity Saturday Today (at Capitol Hill Yoga)

If you are in town today and feeling the need for some R&R, please come join us at Capitol Hill Yoga (scroll down the page, past the Itsy Bitsy workshops, for SS info) today for this month’s Serenity Saturday.

It has been a long work week, and yesterday I though that I’d like to be taking a two hour afternoon restorative workshop myself this weekend.  Last night I gave my self serenity Friday night (not so alliterative).

I’d been feeling a bit testy, and my thoughts were starting to be somewhat all over the place.  I stepped back and thought about all that I’d put into my consciousness in the past couple of weeks: how many work telephone conferences and meetings in which I’d participated, how much the email and other computer communications, how many errands, movies I’d seen, parties I’d gone to, etc.

Diagnosis:  overstimulated.  So instead of going out and getting more stimulated (which can be the immediate reaction to feeling like one wants to get away from work and errand thoughts), I stayed home, cleaned the house, and did a long combination restorative, recumbent, and forward bending practice.  This morning I woke up refreshed and newly receptive, ready to teach all day and share the yoga.

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Midnight Yoga

Every once and a while, I find myself restless at bedtime or wakeful in the night.  The following series serves to make it easier for me to go to sleep and for me to feel fully rested as if I had not been short sleep:

1.  Vipariti karani (legs up the wall).  Start with legs up the wall for five minutes or longer, then move legs into baddha konasana (butterfly) for several breaths, then put them back up the wall.  While your legs are up the wall, first just watch the breath.  Then concentrate on the breath, inviting the exhales to be twice the length of the inhales.

2.  Twisted forward bend.  Using a bolster and a folded blanket (or two or three folded blankets) lengthwise on your mat, place the left thigh next to the edge of the blanket pile, allow yourself to sit heavily.  Staying sweetly grounded, hug your hips together to embrace your core and then draw the left waist back as you bow forward onto the support of the blanket. You can allow your forearms and hands to rest on the floor or you can bend your elbows a little more and tuck your hands between the blankets under your forehead.   Keeping the attention on the breath, inhaling lovingly draw in, exhaling more fully accept the support of the blanket.  Hold for a few minutes and then repeat on the other side.

3.  Supported balasana (child’s pose).  With your knees wide apart and the big toes together, draw the blanket pile between your knees up to mid-thigh.  Place another blanket (or a pillow) across your calves.  Bow forward onto the support of the blankets.  Half way through, turn your head to the other side.  If your thoughts are still active, just let them be and turn your attention back to the breath.

4.  When you are ready to come out of balasana, tuck your toes under and lift your hips into adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog).  If you’d like, you can stay here for several breaths with your head supported by the blankets.  When you are ready, walk your hands back to uttanasana (standing forward bend).  Quietly and mindfully get back into bed and lie in savasana.

Sweet dreams!

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