I felt it and I am wondering if you did too? Today was a day of breakthroughs. As we let go of the physical holding up of our muscles, of our bones, of our nervous system, we can finally let go. The tidal wave of emotions roll through, the tight binding of the muscle fibers loosen, the line between yourself and others begins to diminish. What works for you in the moment of that pose? What works for you outside of the pose, the class, the yoga community? I think I am getting way ahead of myself. Read on about the poses, the breath, and ways to incorporate relaxation into your real life.
Benefits: Left nostril breathing is a very quick and effective way to wind down and get into sleep mode. This is because the left nostril is connected to the right hemisphere of the brain, which can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system counteracts the stress effect, calming you down, slowing heart rate, cooling you down, and increasing digestion. For more information, check out the term “ida” which is the left side of our brain. The opposite is “pingala” the sympathetic nervous system, right side.
Use the thumb or index finger of the right hand to gently close the right nostril. Breathe long and deep for three minutes or until you fall asleep. You can do this sitting or lying down. Lying on your right side will help open the left nostril. I like to allow my tongue to travel to the roof of my mouth in this breath to root my focus on my third eye (middle of the forehead). Also placing my index and middle finger at the third eye assists in activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Therapeutic Spinal Strip
|Straddle Option with head on roll|
Place the two blocks under bolster, height depends on your comfort, equidistant from each other. If more comfortable, do not use blocks under the bolster. Lay a s-fold or triple-fold blanket on top of the bolster. Legs straddle the bolster at one end. Inhale to lengthen body over the bolster, head rests on the props. Additional blankets may be used behind the knees, at ankles, laying on the lower back, under knees, between pelvic area and props. See what is comfortable for you and adjust. Feel the support of the props and release muscular tension especially along the sacrum and lower back. Stay here for 5 minutes, slowly turning head to other side when needed. Gradually increase time in the pose up to 10 minutes.
One may ask how do I relax or bring relaxation into my life? I watch TV to de-stress but I still wake up in the middle of the night with worry? I grab a cup of Joe from my favorite barista when I need to take a few minutes to myself but I still crave action, chaos? Well here are some suggestions from Judith Lasater, Restorative expert in her own right. But before perusing this list, get out your journal and get to work.
Pick something you feel you can really do over the next several days to bring relaxation into your life. Write your choice in your journal and then write it to a piece of paper or a sticky note. Tape it to your mirror in the bathroom, your dashboard in your car, on the fridge. Post it wherever you will see it prominently. After several days, reflect on how you are doing with this endeavor, what you notice in your physical being, your mental and emotional states and your relationships with others. Journal this down. Change your goal if you like or continue with this one on an ongoing basis.
- ask for help when you need it
- drive within the speed limit (seriously, I get better MPG if I’m driving less stressed)
- be willing to say “I don’t know”
- in a stressful situation, ask yourself this question, “What is the most important thing right now?”
- position the interior rear view mirror in your car so that you have to stretch a little to look in it. This will remind you to lengthen your spine and not collapse when driving.
- Write on your posted note, “Breathe”
- take several long, slow breaths at every stop light
- notice how often you say “Hurry up” to yourself or to someone else, especially a child.
- Remember, the only people who are finished with everything are dead!
If you would like to see more of her suggestions, please refer to her book, Relax & Renew.