Restore, Nourish and Cleanse

http://wp.me/P3MSKY-1N Please enjoy exploring these restorative yoga poses, each has its own benefits and qualities. All of the poses relieve stress by first calming and grounding and then taking students into a deep state of relaxation. Restorative yoga is healing, as it stimulates and soothes organs.

Through yoga, we are trying to move out of the sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in at times of crisis. Imagine you see tiger coming towards you. Your heart begins to pound, you start to sweat, your breath becomes rapid. This is the sympathetic nervous system. We often create stressful situations for ourselves, leaving us in a state of heightened alert. This causes a lot of stress and dis-ease in our bodies, because our bodies don't know the difference between the real tiger and the a non life threatening stressors.

We want to calm the sympathetic nervous system so that the parasympathetic nervous system is operating well. The parasympathetic nervous system maintains and conserves body energy and directs "housekeeping" activities such as breathing, digestion and elimination and hormone balance. It only operates well during times of low stress.

As we relax in these restorative poses, we learn to shift ourselves into a more concentrated parasympathetic existence in life. We move away from dis-ease and into ease. Times of high anxiety or stress are the times you can most benefit from the healing aspects of a restorative practice. Take care to support passive postures with props in such a way that feels grounded, safe, and integrated. Stay in each pose for up to 15 minutes. Even a few minutes will make a difference. When your body feels completely supported, let your attention turn toward your breath. Like an ocean wave, each breath will rise and fall on its own.

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Bed of Nails

You will need:

~12 blocks

~2 medium pillows

Getting into the pose:

Place two blocks (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be at the top of the mat, to support your head. Place four blocks in a row, (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be in the middle of the mat to support the mid and low back. Place one block (mid height) on either side of your body, about a foot out from the hips. This will support the back of your forearm. Place another block next to it to rest the back of your hands and the wrist on the blocks. Finally, place one block (mid height) under each ankle.

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20130812-000909

Viparita Karani

You will need:

- A bolster, a folded blanket or a pillow

Getting into the pose:

This pose is simple. Start with your support about 5 to 6 inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on right end of the support, with your left side of your body against the wall (left handers can substitute "left" for "right" in these instructions). Slide your right hand away from the wall as you transition to lying down. Swing your legs up onto the wall and rest your shoulders and head down onto the mat. The bolster supports the middle of the sacrum and bottom tips of the shoulder blades. If you feel irritated in the mid-low back, play with the legs you can drop them open to baddhakonasana or bend the knees to a squat.

1st variation: Once in legs up the wall, bend your legs into a cross-legged position.

2nd variation: Once in legs up the wall, open the legs into a V-shape. Feel the thigh falling into the hip socket with gravity.

3rd variation: Once in legs up the wall, open the knees, press soles of feet together. This is the baddhakonasana version.

4th variation: Legs up the wall in bed, with a pillow under your sacrum. So convenient!

Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. I recommend 20 minutes to get the full effects. To come out, You can bend your knees and push your feet against the wall to lift your pelvis off the support. Then slide the support to one side, lower your pelvis to the floor, and turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up to sitting.

Benefits:

This is really the most therapeutic pose in yoga, once you get used to it, you'll want to do it all the time. It's an amazing relief to the entire body, all the venous return easily returns to heart, so that your body doesn't need to work to pump the blood from your lower body up to heart. It's really good if you spend a lot of time on your feet, if you have varicose veins, if your ankles tend to be swollen or if you have jet-lag. Viparita Karani opens the chest to breathe and lets the heart work efficiently.

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Supta Baddhakonasana

You will need:

~12 blocks total: 4 blocks-lower back, 2 block for head, 4 blocks for hands and 2 blocks for arms.

~4 medium-sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Place four blocks in a row (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be in the middle of the mat to support the mid and low back. Sit with your back to the short, low-end of the bolster. Bring the soles of your feet together, and butterfly your thighs open. Place a medium-sized pillow under each knee for support. Gradually extend your stay anywhere from five to 10 minutes. To come out, use your hands to press your thighs together, then roll over onto one side and push yourself away from the floor, head trailing the torso.

Benefits:

Supta Baddhakonasana opens the whole front of the body: the pelvis, belly, heart, and throat. These are areas we instinctively protect, which is why a pose like this can leave one feeling exposed and vulnerable. Besides the calming factor, this pose improves digestion, stretches your diaphragm, intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles. In addition, it aids in relieving menstruation discomfort.

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IMG_5690

Restorative Fish Pose

You will need:

~2 medium sized pillows

~6 blocks

Getting into the pose:

Place 5 blocks (mid height) length-wise on your mat, then place a 6th block (low height) at the end, where your lower back will be resting. Cover all the blocks using two pillows. Sit in front of the block on the lowest height with your legs out in front of you. Make sure your head will also be on the support. Keep the hips as close to the support as possible. Relax as your back gently bends back and your chest and heart open.

Benefits:

Restorative fish pose is great for upper back, neck and shoulder pain. This positioning aids in Softening the muscles between the shoulder blades and releasing tension in jaw, neck, shoulders, and upper back. It opens the chest, increasing lung capacity and realigns muscles for improved posture, especially shoulders rolling forward. It activates of thymus gland stimulates the body's immune function.

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Restorative Twist

You will need:

~6 blocks

~2 medium sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Stack all 6 blocks (mid height) in a row. Sit with one hip flush up against the support at a 90 degree angle with your knees bent and legs to one side. Keep the spine as long as possible as you twist your torso gently toward over the support. Walk you hands forward on either side of the support and gently rest your belly and chest down on it. Your arms will fall to both sides of the support as you surround with your arms in a hugging fashion. Turn the head to one side, alternating sides halfway through the pose. On each exhalation, feel the back body expand; on each exhalation, feel the support under the chest and belly. Stay in the pose for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits:

Massages your abdominal organs, stimulation digestion and detoxification. Wrings tension out of the muscles along the spine.

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20130811-235745.jpg

Restorative Child's Pose

You will need:

~6 blocks

~2 medium sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Set up 6 blocks (mid height) in a row, then cover with two pillows. Kneel on the mat, then separate your knees so that they are hugging the support close to your body, the arms gently fall to your sides. Turn your head to the side that feels more comfortable. Melt into the cushion as you breathe deeply and let go.

Benefits:

This gentle forward bend nourished the nervous system by relieving anxiety, while creating a restful state for those with insomnia. It helps release low back tension and opens the hips. It's tightly wrapped shape envelops the front of the body, allowing us to soften and release protective holding patterns in the abdomen.