First, if I may direct your attention to the sidebar, I have added a “Like Supportive Yoga” button for the new Supportive Yoga Facebook page. You can follow my content there and I will also be sharing lots of extra yoga goodness from the greater online yoga community. I’d love it if you “liked” it!
Onto the matter at hand. I am feeling run down after this weekend’s shenanigans and teaching 1000 chaturangas, so this is a good time to break out some restorative poses. Restorative poses are supported (woo!) with props and we hold them for a long time to allow the body to release naturally at its own pace. Joints and ligaments may respond to a restorative pose more readily than an active pose as well. We can’t really force ligaments and tendons to “stretch” the way we can with muscles. Hold these poses for up to 5 minutes. Viparita karani and child’s pose can be held for much longer if you like.
Here are some of my favorites in no particular order:
Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) on a bolster with an optional badakonasana variation:
Getting into this pose can be a little awkward, especially when we bring the bolster into it. I try to get my butt as close to the wall as possible when coming into it and I usually sit down sideways, get as close to the wall as possible and then swing my legs up. You can also use your arms to move close to the wall once you are on your back but I find this much harder. For more of a shoulder release, bring your arms into a loose O shape above your head. You can experiment with different leg variations as well – for a bit of a hip release I like to move into badakonasana legs about half way through my hold.
The bolster should be under your scapula (shoulder blades) – for ladies, this is about where your bra line is. If your head does not come to the floor and you are not comfortable, bring a blanket or a block underneath your head to support it. In addition to being a great chest and upper back opener, this pose is really helpful for respiratory tightness. Don’t hold this one past 5 minutes or so though because you can irritate your bronchial passages by having them too open for too long.
Child’s Pose with a bolster:
Downward Dog with a bolster:
The key to both child’s pose and downward dog with the bolster is the gentle pressure on the third eye point, which promotes a cooling down of the nervous system and can relieve anxiety.
Supported Supta Virasana (check out this post for the details)
Don’t forget a nice long relaxing savasana!