November 26 Restore

diane-kistler-wagon-wheel-pose

Happy Post-Thanksgiving to All,

We’ve been blessed with this practice of restoratives offered up through many teachers and many traditions.  I am grateful for their teachings which they’ve shared over the years. Here is a smattering of those who’ve influenced me and my teachings.

My students, my clients, Jillian Pransky, Judith Lassater, Sara Duke, Carmen Molina (my co-captain), Elizabeth Shammash, my Inner Peace Yoga Therapy faculty, Pema Chodron, Donna Farhi, my children (who were willing guinea pigs to try poses out), oddly enough my cat and dog who are the ultimate yogis. There are more influences and gratitude that extend to many others. As I sit here typing away, my mind floats to all of those lovely souls.

This gift of the practice is what I offer to you to stay present, soft and loving with yourself, which will have the undoubtable effect of reaching others.  Another gift is the Progressive Relaxation audio at the bottom of this blog post.  Enjoy!!

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo  ~  I bow to the teacher within

Breath

Alternate Nostril Breath

This breath invites the calm in, balancing both sides of our nasal passages and our brain.  We tend to breath predominately with either the left or right nasal passage and we become unbalanced.  A few minutes at the start of a class or practice, can merge the two hemispheres of the brain and allow you to become more receptive.

Breathing through the right or left nostrils gives different effects.
Right Nostril
increases heart rate, increases verbal performance, stimulates left brain, increases rate of blinking
Left Nostril decreases heart rate, increases spatial performance, stimulates right brain, reduces rate of blinking,
Extended Breath Practice
Take a long breath in and a long breath out then two regular breaths. This is one cycle.
Continue this pattern for 9 more cycles, for a total of 10.
Observe how you feel both during the practice and afterwards.  Notice the pace, the tension or calm areas of your body, your thoughts and emotions and anything else that comes up for you.
The Practice: Find a comfortable seat or laying down.  Using the right hand, bring the middle and index fingers to rest toward the palm.  Alternatively, they can be placed at your third eye (forehead area). Begin with even breaths through both nostrils, gently close off right nostril, then inhale through left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.  Gently close off left nostril, as you inhale through right and exhale through left. Keep the same count for both sides. That is one round.  Repeat for 5 to 6 rounds or more.  Tongue comes to rest on roof of mouth.
Other variations of this breath are:

Retaining the breath after the inhale while keeping both nostrils gently closed.

  • Extending the exhale longer than inhale
  • Cessation of breath after the exhale, with only one nostril closed

Poses

Mountain Brook

Props: bolster, 2-3 blankets, block, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.
Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing.  It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.
On your mat, place the bolster will your knees will be, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), a block for the feet or the heels can come to the floor and a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up.  If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel.  Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes.  Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves.  Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket.  Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.

Surfboard

Props: blankets, including one for warmth, stuffed animals or eye bags for hands
Benefits: gently stretches the lumbar spine and para spinal muscles, and gives a release in the diaphragm, quiets the mind and comforting. Gives a sense of security.

2 bolster fold blanket placed lengthwise on mat on top of each other. Make one blanket roll at end of mat for ankle support. Rest of that blanket fills in gap where shin does not meet the floor. Knees will rest on the floor. Top bolster folded blanket roll towards you in a wider roll to fit in chest and shoulder area. One more blanket folded so that its height is the same as the two bolster folded blankets.

Come to all fours straddling the props, release to forearms and then fully recline on props. Ankles rest on small roll at end of mat, shins supported by the rest of that blanket. Rest the rest of your body at hip crease on the bolster fold blankets and lay chest on wider roll of top blanket. Head rests on additional blanket at top, turned to the side. Arms come out to the sides, releasing shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Placing an eye pillow or stuffed animal in palms as they face floor is very grounding and comfortable. Additional blankets for pillows tucked in as needed with student to create boundaries or make more comfortable.
New Version includes laying tops of ankles over padded blocks for further draining of the legs.

Progressive Relaxation

– LISTEN HERE

2018-11-30T13:39:15+00:00

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