Tag Archives: recognizing emotions

Simplify Your Practice

Savasana, the ending resting pose in most yoga classes, can conjure up all sorts of feelings. I would go as far to say that you either love it or hate it. How can one pose create such an emotional reaction? I would guess that those who hate it are challenged by the stillness and struggle with not “doing.” Maybe it’s just really hard to get comfortable on the floor, on your back. Perhaps the silence brings an awareness to your racing mind, and that is uncomfortable. I can also safely assume that those who love it, have developed that relationship over time. Those people understand that becoming aware of your racing mind, sensations in the body, and feelings that arise are just part of the package. It comes with the territory and it’s how we choose to meet all that arises is the difference.

Savasana is the most simple pose in any yoga practice but also the most complicated. All you are asked to do is lie on the floor and “be.” Be with your thoughts non-judgementally; be with sensations in the body without creating a story around them; be with any and all feelings that you notice; just be. You have no demands on you during this time. No errands to run, nobody asking you for anything, and no tasks.

If you embrace Savasana as a gift of the practice, I challenge you to stay longer, add more props for comfort and ease, and rest in it more frequently. Extend your time by just a few minutes each time you set yourself up; the longer the better. Commit to a regular practice of Savasana by keeping your props accessible, dedicating time in your daily schedule, and set a timer so that you have the boundary to go deeper.

If you are interested in a better relationship with Savasana, I challenge you to first, get really comfortable in your set up in the most quiet, peaceful place you can find. Set a timer for 5 minutes in the beginning and extend by a minute each time you commit to the practice. Cover yourself with a blanket and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or wash cloth if you are comfortable doing so. Meet all that you notice with compassion. You can choose to spend more time with it or you can choose to focus on the present which may include becoming aware of your breath. Consider it a refuge from life, a place to hit the “pause button.” Dedicate to a regular practice to gain the benefits of stillness and deep rest. I guarantee it will work wonders if you let it!

The fancy and beautiful poses are great. They make us feel powerful, balanced, and strong. Don’t get rid of your movement practice, it’s important too. I just ask you to simplify your practice, commit to doing less, and just be.

Join me Sunday, January 21, 2018 for a 2-hour workshop, “Advanced Savasana,” where we will explore 3 comfortable shapes as well as setting up a home practice, and enjoy a generous Savasana.

Katie Rodgers is a 200-hour registered Yoga Instructor who has trained extensively with Restorative Queen, Judith Hanson Lasater and combines Restorative Yoga with mental health talk therapy for overall mind-body well-being. Register at Noda Yoga.

Restorative Yoga Pose of the Week – Wide Legged Forward Fold


Forward folds can improve digestion, reduce fatigue, and may improve high blood pressure.  Restorative forward folds help calm the autonomic nervous system and can help bring the energy down in the body.  It’s important in forward folds to start the pose by lengthening in the lower back and can end with a slight rounding of the upper back if necessary.  Your head must always be supported in this pose and your arms/hands are there to be supported and relaxed, not reaching or pulling.  This pose can be tricky for people with tight hamstrings, hip flexors, or lower back and a posterior-tilted pelvis.  There are many variations of this pose, so find the one where you can rest comfortably for a period of time.  In this pose, you will feel a gentle stretch in your lower back, hamstrings, and adductors(inner thighs).

Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice.  Cautions for this pose include Sciatica, SI joint dysfunction, hamstring injury.  Avoid this pose if you are pregnant.

To set up this pose, you will want to have a bolster or two, a blanket or two, and perhaps a folding chair(or any chair that you can rest your head comfortably on and spread your legs out).  If folding forward is difficult, you may want to start by sitting on a folded blanket for more height and perhaps a forward shift in your pelvis.  Spread your legs out as wide as is comfortable to hold for a period of time.  You will relax your legs here.  Place your bolster(s) vertical in front of you between your legs.  Place your hands on your hips, sit up straight, and fold from the pelvis and lower back region.  You will want to avoid any rounding in the lower or middle back.  Once you have folded as far as you can go, place a combination of bolsters and blankets at the right height to rest your head comfortably.  You may place your forehead on the blankets/bolsters or folded hands, or rest on your right or left ear.  If not using your hands for support, simply place them on your mat where they fall.  If a combination of bolsters or blankets is not comfortable for you, try placing a folding chair in between your legs and fold as much as comfortable with your forehead placed on your folded hands.

Once you are set up in the pose, you can soften your gaze or close your eyes and begin with your rhythmic breathing.  You may stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable to you.  Average time may be 3 to 5 minutes.  To come out of the pose, slowly lift your head away from the supports with a flat back.  Spend a moment sitting up and notice any changes you may feel in your body.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up with pose:

Resources:

Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.

Restorative Yoga Pose of the Week – Reclining Twist


Twisting poses help to relieve any knots that have accumulated in the back due to physical, emotional, or mental tension and stress.  Restorative twists help calm the nervous system and bring the energy down in the body.  Benefits of this pose include improved vertebral joint flexibility, digestion, as well as circulation.  You will feel a gentle stretch in all of the muscles of the back as well as the intercostals(muscles between the ribs).

Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice.  Cautions for this pose include Sciatica, Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and Herniated disks.  You can enjoy this pose if you are pregnant.

In setting up this pose, you will want to have a bolster and a blanket.  You may want to have 2 yoga blocks handy as well as a sandbag for additional grounding.  You will want to place your bolster vertical on your mat and sit with your right hip against your bolster.  Twist towards the bolster with your upper back as you lower your chest onto the bolster.  If you desire a full twist, place the opposite side ear on the bolster.  If you would like a more gentle twist, place the same ear as hip on the bolster.  Make sure your head is higher than your pelvis.  If you would like a more elevated twist, place 2 blocks under your bolster for more height.  You can play around with which height is best for you.  Allow your knees to fall towards the mat and add a blanket in between them for more comfort.  Place blankets under your forearms if they do not reach the mat comfortably.  A sandbag may be placed on the thigh of your upper leg.

Once you are set up in this pose, you can soften your gaze or close your eyes, and begin your rhythmic breathing.  You are welcome to stay in this pose as long as you are comfortable.  Twists are typically not held as long as other restorative poses, so average time may be from 3 to 5 minutes.

When you complete the twist from the right side, place your left hip against the bolster and twist from the left.

When coming out of this pose, do so slowly and with intention.  Place your palms on the mat, and gently press your torso and head away from the bolster.  Spend a moment or two in a seated position before twisting on the other side or moving into another pose.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up this pose:

Resources:

Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.
Forbes, B. (2011). Yoga for emotional balance: Simple practices to help relieve anxiety and depression. Boston: Shambhala.
Lasater, J. (1995). Relax and renew: Restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.

Restorative Yoga Pose of the Week – Reverse Relaxation Pose

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Reverse Relaxation pose is another option for your final savasana.  It is designed to bring the energy down in the body and can assist in eliminating any vulnerability that may come from being face up.  Reverse Relaxation is fairly easy to set up with minimal props.  This pose is simply for rest and therefore you will not feel any stretching in your muscles.

Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice.  Avoid this pose if you are pregnant.

To set up in the pose, lie down with your belly touching the mat.  You can either rest your forehead on top of your hands that are stacked in front of you, or goalpost your arms and turn your head to either the right or the left.

Options include adding a blanket underneath your hips to prevent any pain in your hip bones pressing into the mat.  You can also utilize a blanket folded in thirds underneath your abdomen.  A rolled blanket propped under your ankles can relieve any pressure you may have there.  You may want to add a sandbag to the backs of your thighs for more grounding.  Lastly, a blanket covering the entire body may help keep the body warm when the body temperature cools.

Another variation of this pose is to bend your right and left knees(one at a time) to a 90 degree angle, goal post your arms, and turn your head towards the side of the bent knee.  A blanket under your bent knee and opposite hip will prevent any pressure.

Once you are set up in the pose, fall into your natural breath pattern.  It may be helpful to perform a brief body scan to release any tension you are holding on to.  Average time may be anywhere from 5-15 minutes in this pose.

When coming out of this pose, do so slowly and with intention.  Roll over to your right side using your left palm against the mat to get you there.  Spend some time here noticing the effects of the pose and preparing your body for what’s next.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up this pose:

Resources:

Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.
Forbes, B. (2011). Yoga for emotional balance: Simple practices to help relieve anxiety and depression. Boston: Shambhala.

Restorative Yoga Pose of the Week – Child’s Pose

In Restorative Yoga, Child’s Pose can bring a sense of security as you wrap your body around the props.  This pose leads the practitioner to more introversion(looking inward, reflection).  It gently stretches the lower back through spine flexion, relieves shoulder tension, and can help with menstrual cramps or symptoms of menopause.  This pose can help with grounding or bringing down high energy levels in the body.

Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice.  Cautions for this pose include spondylolishthesis, spondylolysis, spinal stenosis, disc disease, or nerve symptoms(radiating pain or numbness, or difficulties with bowel or bladder infection).  Avoid this pose if more than 3 months pregnant.

Setting up this pose can take some time.  Place your bolster vertical on the mat and between your knees that are spread wide.  The openness of your knees is up to you and your own comfort level.  Play around with different widths.  Check in here for any discomfort(knees, feet, hips).  If there is no discomfort, lie your chest down on the bolster while angling your hips back over your feet.  Place your forearms down on the ground and turn your head to the left or right, finding which side is most comfortable to you.  You may also experiment with placing your forehead on top of your hands that are stacked on the bolster.  In this pose, it is important for your head and shoulders to be on the same plane as your hips.  If your head is lower, add a folded blanket or two until you reach even height.  Now you are set up in this pose.  If you feel any tingling, numbness, or pain, come out of the pose.

Options for more comfort include a rolled up blanket underneath the feet or a folded blanket behind your knees.  A blanket added underneath you as well will help protect your knees against the ground.  If you add any blankets to this pose, check back in with your head and hips making sure that they are even.  Blankets can be added underneath your forearms if you feel you are stretching to reach the ground.  If turning your head to one side is not comfortable, cross your forearms on your bolster and place your forehead on top of your hands.  For added grounding, a sandbag may be placed on your sacrum, which is the flat bone located at the base of the spine.  Don’t be afraid to add multiple blankets for any of the above.  The goal is comfort and relaxation!

Once you are set up in the pose, begin your rhythmic breathing through your nose, and perform a body scan to release any tension you are holding in the body.  You are welcome to stay in this pose as long as it is serving you.  Average time may be around 3-5 minutes.

When coming out of this pose, do so slowly and with intention.  Rest your forehead on the bolster and using your hands, press yourself away from the bolster and sit back on your legs.  Spend time here preparing for what is next.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up this pose:

 

Resources:

Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.
Forbes, B. (2011). Yoga for emotional balance: Simple practices to help relieve anxiety and depression. Boston: Shambhala.
Lasater, J. (1995). Relax and renew: Restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.