Tag Archives: Stress Relief

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.

Listen: Changing the Face of Yoga Podcast

Stephanie Cunningham of “Changing the Face of Yoga” podcast recently interviewed Katie on how she integrates restorative yoga in her mental health practice to aid in managing symptoms of traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and self-injury.  Listen here or download in the podcast app on your iphone(Episode “Trauma”).

Changing the Face of Yoga (4)

Katie’s Bookshelf: Relax and Renew by Judith Hanson Lasater

relaxandrenewI just completed Level 1 training of Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew: Learning to Teach Restorative Yoga so it’s fitting to review the book.  This is the book for all things restorative yoga.  She provides information on the benefits of this type of yoga and a thorough explanation on all of the props used as well as how to make props out of regular household items.  Several chapters have specifically designed sequences for such things as basic relaxation, insomnia, travel, pregnancy, and back pain.  Each chapter has beautiful photographs of each pose, a description of how to get in and out of the pose, how long to stay in, as well as benefits and cautions.  This book is accessible for the novice, experienced yogi, or teacher.

Relax and Renew is not designed to be read from cover to cover, but more of a “take what you need” approach.  If you are interested in restorative yoga, this is where you start!

Read this book if:

  • You are interested in learning more about restorative yoga
  • Have a desire to teach restorative yoga

 

Buy it here.

Lasater, J. H., & Schatz, M. P. (2011). Relax and renew: restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley: Rodmell.

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 – Legs Up the Wall

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Legs up the wall is an inversion that helps reverse the natural blood flow and pooling of blood in the feet.  This pose can be practiced everyday and is beneficial to reduce fatigue and swelling in the legs and can be a nice relief after standing on your feet all day.  This pose may help lower blood pressure for those with mild hypertension.  This pose will neutralize energy in the body and you may feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings.

Always advise your doctor before beginning any type of yoga practice.  Avoid this pose if you have high uncontrolled blood pressure, heart problems, retinal issues, spondylolisthesis, or spondylolysis.  If you experience any pressure in your head, avoid this pose and try a gentler inversion.  Avoid this pose if you are more than 3 months pregnant or have a heavy menstruation.

You don’t need any props to enjoy this pose(especially if you are traveling), but may enjoy this pose more with the use of props.  You will want to have a couple of blankets, bolster, eye pillow, and perhaps a sandbag.  Sit with either your right or left hip against the wall and start to lean back while swinging your legs up the wall.  Experiment with different distances from the wall as you do not need to be right against it.  If using props, experiment with a tri-folded blanket or bolster under your hips.  You may want to place a neck roll underneath your neck for added support.  Place your arms out to the side or in a “t.”  You can place a sandbag on the tops of your feet for added weight and an eye pillow to reduce stimulation.  You can have a slight bend in your knees if your hamstrings are tight and you can place the soles of your feet against the wall for more comfort.  You may consider adding a blanket on top of your chest or wrapping a blanket around your legs as your body temperature will cool during this pose.

Once you are settled into the pose, begin your rhythmic inhales and exhales.  You may notice sensation in your legs as the blood travels down towards your heart and brain.  Stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable.  Average time may be 7 to 15 minutes.

When you are ready to come out of the pose, remove any eye pillows and blankets.  You can either push your body off of your props and away from the wall or roll onto your side with your knees in your chest and in a side-lying position.  Spend a moment or two here adjusting to the 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.