Similar to last week’s focus, yoga requires attention of breath, but with some added optional
movement. I say optional, because yoga is truly a practice of breath and mindfulness; the poses and movement were added as a means to help get you to that point. So, it is with no surprise that both the mental and physical aspects of a yoga practice are significant in reducing and working alongside stress.
There is a wide array of yoga practices, all with their own origins and benefits to mind and body; but when it comes to the topic of stress, my mind goes to the practice of restorative yoga.
Restorative yoga is an act of self-care that supports the body in times of stress and trauma, as it has been established that these concerns do not only present in the mind, but in the body as well. This particular practice of yoga helps reach deep into the nervous system and bring the body back to its parasympathetic, or relaxation response; this aids the body in rest, repair, resilience and recovery.
In restorative yoga, the movements are small and slow, often supported by blankets, pillows,
blocks, and bolsters. You go into one particular pose, and make adjustments with yourself and the props with the goal of making yourself as comfortable as possible to be able to remain like this for 5-10 minutes. This is all occurring to reduce overall muscle tension, create emotional balance, and reduce fatigue in the mind and body. Another added literal and figurative layer of restorative yoga is to cover yourself with a blanket for warmth as you go into these deeper states of relaxation and restoration to keep body temperature at an ideal level. But it’s also incredibly comfortable and fun to snuggle up and call it yoga :). If you’re looking for this type of relaxation, grab some pillows and blankets, and try out some of the below poses. I suggest also lowering the lights and soft instrumental music to accompany.
Legs Up the Wall - This pose is as simple as it sounds, used as a receptive inversion, you lie on your back on the floor and bring your slightly bent knees up the wall, trying to bring your hips as close to the wall as is comfortable. For an added layer, you can put a pillow or bolster underneath the hips, and let your arms lie out wide against the floor. Focus on deep breathing and remain here for up to 15 minutes.
Supported Child’s Pose - Create a support of firm pillows, blankets, or bolsters on the floor on top of your blanket and/or mat; make this support slightly lengthwise, so that you can come kneel behind it and begin to lower your chest onto the support. Wrap your knees and arms slightly around the support, and lower your head down and turn it facing whichever side feels most comfortable. Sit back on your heels, as if you were in a traditional child’s pose, letting gravity stretch your hips and rounding your lower back and pelvis down. Halfway through your time in this pose, slowly turn your head to rest the opposite cheek on the support. Hold this pose for 5 to minutes, focusing on your breathing, and slowly exhaling as you use your hands to press up into a kneeling position.
Supported Bridge Pose - Lie on your back on your mat and/or blankets, bending your knees with your feet planted on the ground and slowly lifting your hips up toward the sky; support yourself in this pose with a block or bolsters right below your lower back and hips, finding the right height that feels comfortable. Allow the bolster or block to take the weight of your hips and begin to rest into the pose, only using your feet as columns, but not actively trying to hold you up. Focus on your breath for up to 10 minutes, slowly removing the block afterwards, lowering down and coming into a fetal position for a few full breaths.
These poses are not meant for women after their first trimester of pregnancy.
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