So here we are just hanging out……chillin’……returning to the cocooned nest where we feel weightless, stress-free…..taking a load off of our feet……

What am I getting at here?  Well, Moyo Yoga will be hosting a new series at its studio called Aerial Restorative Yoga, a combination of Restorative Yoga and Aerial Yoga using the hammock and the floor.  The main focus of this practice is spinal alignment, elongation and release and creating space for healing and relaxation. This series is led by Pat Setley and yours truly on Thursdays beginning on February 2nd from 1:00-2:15 p.m.  There are 4 spaces left but since it is an ongoing series, you will have more opportunity to explore this practice in the coming months. 

The Breath
Breath with Expanding Sphere*

Calm Your Class in One Minute with a Breathing Sphere

guest post by Jim Gillen

One of our favorite ways of teaching and encouraging children to breathe healthfully is by using a Hoberman breathing sphere – a popular children’s toy that’s basically a geodesic dome made of jointed segments. By lightly pushing or pulling it on opposite sides, you can make it expand or contract, accordion-style. The movement serves as a visual model for the type of breathing we want the kids to imitate by helping them see and synchronize their breath with movement.

How to Use A Hoberman Sphere

hobermansphere_videoThe teacher or other supervising adult may lead the group or – something we like to do – encourage one of the kids to lead, establishing the breathing rhythm. As the leader slowly expands the sphere, all inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, from the belly. The leader then pauses, emulating the short, natural pause that happens at the “top” and “bottom” of each healthy breath. As the leader contracts the sphere, all exhale through the nose just as slowly.
This efficient diaphragmatic breath is like watching the waves at the beach, with each breath swelling up from abdomen to chest and back down again.
The expansion-contraction cycle may be repeated as many times as necessary, but we find 5-10 cycles to be effective for helping the group calm and focus through this simple breath work.
Rhythm and slowness are two keys to using a breathing sphere effectively. By  consciously  slowing  our  breath, especially the exhalation, we can  facilitate the relaxation response even more and develop some control over how our nervous system responds to our environment.
In the classroom and school environments such breath work lends itself readily to focus and mindfulness, preparing students to learn. Speeding thoughts slow. The body as a whole relaxes. Body and mind become centered, grounded. Thus, many teachers, counselors and administrators start their classes off by leading students in breathing with a sphere. Some schools have even used these breathing practices at assemblies or over the school intercom to calm and focus their students.
Jim Gillen, RYT-500, is the cofounder of Yoga Calm, director of Still Moving Yoga in Portland, Oregon, and co-author of numerous education articles and Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind, and Body
*Since we did not have the Hoberman Sphere to use, we put our fingers together and created a pulse-like movement in and out.  Moving onto expanding our imaginary sphere outward with deeper breaths and then contracting in until finger tips touched again. 

The Poses
Supported Reclined Cross Legged Pose

Props: 3 blankets, 1 bolster, can use firm pillows and cushions from home
Benefits: Opens the chest area, releases tension in the forehead, neck, thighs, lower back and legs. Great for the reproductive organs and aids in digestion.

Place bolster lengthwise on mat, place a rolled up blanket at “T” position. Two blankets or pillows placed where knees will be. Sit at end of bolsters, and slowly lower yourself down so sacrum is on mat and entire length of your back is on bolster. Move rolled up blanket to cervical spine.  Extend legs when coming out of the pose, then bend and roll to a side. 

Legs up the Wall and Variation with Chair or bolster

Props: chair/bolster, 2-3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: Sandbag, Webkinz stuffed animals
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen.  
Blanket on belly or legs.

Place a blanket on chair or bolster with blocks so you don’t feel the hard surface.  If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the prop as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor.  Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up.  Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I’ve used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy.  Stay for up to 10 minutes.  Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes.  Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.

Journal Question

What can you do to turn your world upside down??!!??