Tag Archives: Relaxation technique

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.

Travel Restorative Yoga

Tips on how to be creative with props in a hotel room to utilize restorative yoga poses.

Restorative Yoga Pose of the Week – Relaxation Pose

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Relaxation Pose is the more important shape in restorative yoga.  If you have time for one yoga pose during your day, do this one.  Relaxation pose lowers blood pressure and heart rate, enhances immunity, helps with insomnia, reduces fatigue, releases any muscular tension and can help manage chronic pain.  This pose will neutralize energy in the body and you will not feel any stretching in the body as the goal is a complete release.

Always advise your doctor before beginning any type of yoga practice.  Avoid this pose if you are more than 3 months pregnant or feel any pain or discomfort.  This pose can be replaced with side-lying pose if you are unable to do this pose.

To set up this pose, you will want to have a bolster, a few blankets, eye pillow, and possibly sand bags for added weight.  Place your bolster horizontal on your mat approximately where your knees will be.  Use one blanket as a neck roll for more support.  Have another blanket handy to cover your entire body as your body temperature will drop while lying flat.  Lean back slowly to where the bolster is supporting the backs of your knees.  If your feet don’t touch the floor, place a blanket, pillow, or other support underneath them.  Place the neck roll under your neck to where your chin is slightly lower than your forehead.  If you feel any pinching in your lower back, place a folded blanket vertical under your lower back.  Place another blanket on top of your entire body.  Your arms can be out to the side palms facing up or down, whichever is more comfortable for you.  If you would like to add some weight to this pose, you can place a sandbag across your pelvis which will encourage your lower back to release.  Sandbags can be placed on each shoulder or propped on a block with the edge pressed gently on your forehead.  Lastly, place your eye pillow over your eyes to reduce stimulation.

You may began a rhythmic breath pattern or settle into your natural inhales and exhales.  A cleansing breath(inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth) may be a nice way to began the pose as it will signal to the body to relax.  You can stay in the position as long as it is comfortable.  Average time will be between 10-20 minutes as you need enough time to experience the wonderful relaxation that this pose brings.

When you are ready to come out of relaxation pose, remove your eye pillow and sandbags.  Bring some slight movement to your fingers and toes.  Roll over to your left or right side and spend several moments in a side-lying position to notice the effects of the rest.  When you are ready, use your top hand pressed into the ground to slowly and deliberately press yourself into a seated position.

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 – Seated Forward Bend

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Restorative Seated forward bend can improve digestion, reduce fatigue, and may lower blood pressure.  This forward bend will provide a gentle stretch in the lower back and hamstrings.  This pose is calming to the nervous system and will decrease energy in the body.  Forward folds can be challenging to those with tight hamstrings or a posterior-tilted pelvis.  Always support your head while folding forward in a restorative practice.

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 in this pose, you will want to experiment with a combination of blankets, bolsters, and perhaps a folding chair.  If folding forward is difficult, you may want to start by sitting on a folded blanket for more height that will shift your pelvis forward.  Stretch your legs out in front of you with either a slight bend or more.  If bending your knees generously, place a bolster or rolled up blanket underneath for more support.  Use a combination of blankets and/or bolsters stacked on your lap for the appropriate amount of height.  When folding forward, sit up straight, and start your fold from your pelvis or lower back.  You will want to avoid any rounding in your lower or mid-back region.  You may have a slight rounding in your upper back.  Find the right amount of support for your head and you are welcome to place your forward on your stacked hands.  Relax your arms and avoid using them to pull your torso towards the mat or props.  If using a chair, stretch your legs out long in front of you and forward fold as you did above, and rest your forehead on the chair or on your stacked palms.

Once you are comfortable in the pose, either soften your gaze or close your eyes and began your inhales and exhales.  Stay in this position as long as it is comfortable to you.  Average time may be anywhere from 5 to 10 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 – Side Lying Stretch(Banana)

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Side-Lying Stretch or “Banana” pose is a more active pose than the side-lying relaxation pose.  This position stretches the intercostal muscles which may help improve respiration and can aid in long-term breathing issues such as asthma.  Side-lying stretch may also relieve minor back aches.  This pose will increase energy in the body.

Always advise your doctor before beginning any type of yoga practice.  Cautions for this pose include major back or shoulder injuries, during menstruation, or if you are more than 3 months pregnant.

To set up this pose, you will want to have several blankets available, a bolster or pillow, and perhaps a block to rest your hand on.  Either use your bolster or two or more folded blankets placed at your right or left hip.  Roll your body over your props ensuring your side body at your waist is making contact with the prop.  You will want to avoid your front or back body from making contact with the props.  Your hips or shoulders will not touch the floor in this position.  You can rest your head on your lower arm or place a blanket between your head and arm for more support.  Your top arm will reach over your head.  If it does not reach the floor comfortably, place a block, blanket, or pillow for it to rest on.  You should feel a stretch in the side body facing the ceiling.  If you do not feel this stretch, place more height underneath you.  If you feel any pinching in your back, come out of the pose and readjust your props.  Your legs may fall to the mat naturally or you may stretch your top leg in the same direction your body is facing for more activation in the legs.  Place any blankets around or in between your legs to add support.

Once you are comfortable in this pose, settle into your breathing and notice how the breath feels almost exclusively on the side facing the ceiling.  You may stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable.  Average time may be 3 to 5 minutes.  If you are new to side-body stretching, you will want to start around a minute on each side.  Once your time is up on the first side, use your top arm to place your palm on the mat in front of your face to press yourself up slowly to a seated position.  Spend a moment here before transitioning to the other side.  Each side of our body is different, so you will want to be mindful of the height of your props.  Once your stretch is complete on the final side, press yourself up to a seated position and spend a moment here adjust to the pose.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up the pose:

Resources:

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

Lasater, J. (1995). Relax and renew: Restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.