Restorative yoga for the New Year

Relax, restore, it’s almost 2015
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on December 30, 2014.  Posted with permission. 

childs pose one

Receive.  Be passive.  Connect with yourself.

Indulge in a holiday time-out.

Restorative yoga is a practice to recharge and refresh, to take a break from daily (particularly holiday) stresses.

It’s not an active, athletic practice, but it’s still a challenge.  Can you commit to yourself? Can you soothe the body and calm the mind? Can you gift yourself?

Heather Holland of Ruby and Pearls Yoga Studio devotes hours to restorative practice every holiday season.

“It enables me and every student to open up those dormant areas.  It just feels good, like getting a massage,” she said.

In restorative yoga, you allow props to cradle your body in the poses, initiating a deeper relaxation while still tapping into the poses’ energies.

This practice can be done at home with your own props: a block, three blankets and a bolster.  If you don’t have your own stash of yoga props, grab a thick book or two, three beach towels and a long pillow.

Holland’s Restorative Pose Sequence

  1. Child’s Pose

childs pose one

Your block is your pillow.  Place the end of your bolster on the block to make a capital T.  Stack a folded blanket on top of the block to build your pillow.  Top the bolster with another folded blanket. As you take Child’s Pose on the T, tuck another folded blanket under your seat.  Surrender, and hold for as long as you like.

2. Wide-Legged Forward Fold

wideleggedforwardfoldtwo

Sit with your legs in a wide but comfortable V.  Pull the padding out from under your seat so you can forward fold with a straight back.  Drop your head and arms over a stack of the bolster, three blankets and the block.  Give in.

3.  Fold in Sukhasana

sukhasanathree

Sit cross legged, and forward fold onto three blankets on top of the bolster.  Stretch your back, and allow your hips to open.  After five minutes or longer, reverse the position of your legs. Just release.

4. Close with Reclined Cobbler’s Pose

reclinedcobblersposefour

Build the same T as in Child’s Pose.  Lie back on the T, your head supported by the blanket and block, the bolster padded by a blanket along your spine.  Your seat should not be on the bolster but on the floor.  As you bring the soles of your feet to touch, wrap your third blanket, rolled long in a C, under your thighs. Add an eye pillow and breathe.

When life is frantic, like now, practice for up to an hour after an evening bath or hot shower. Light candles, choose soothing music and connect with yourself through relaxation.

This time is just for you.   Sleep well.

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