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Posts Tagged ‘Restorative Yoga’

Yoga 101: Relaxing Heart Openers

Our modern posture has gone from homo-erectus to “homo-hunchy-textus” with most of us spending time hunched over a computer or slouching over our cell phones. The result is a caving inward of the chest, and a sinking of the heart – which can manifest in both the physical and energetic realms.

As Valentines Day approaches, what better time to cultivate an open, loving heart?

 

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And what more delicious way than with an indulgent Restorative or Yin heart opening asana? Restorative and Yin yoga styles ask us to find a shape and to stay… and breath…. and give in to gravity… and let the shapes do their work. We hold these postures for a few minutes each, rather than just a few breaths, and with that decadent time the nervous system resets, fascia and connective tissue releases and patterns of constriction, tension or resistance slowly begin to melt.

 

Heart opening shapes support the health and vibrance of the heart chakra,  Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit.

Anahata is the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy… it is the center of your deep bonds with other beings, your sense of caring and compassion, your feelings of self-love, altruism, generosity, kindness, and respect…. The “way of the heart” or the “path of the heart” is living your life from this energy center of love.
-Read more at Chakra Anatomy

 

 

So – make a playlist of a few of your favorite relaxing, romantic songs, light a candle or two, and relax into any or all of these supported heart openers.

 

  • Use a couch pillow or a blanket for this soft supportive version. Legs can be in butterfly shape or stretched out long.
  • Create this Supported Fish Pose by placing a yoga block, small pillow or even a stack of books right under your shoulder girdle. If your head doesn't rest on the floor, place a blanket below so you're fully supported.
  • Mountain Brook is an indulgent and relaxing posture. Place a low rolled-up blanket under the shoulder girdle and a pillow under your knees. Relax and feel the energy gently flow....
  • When relaxing in mountain brook, try to have the shoulders resting on the floor - maybe this means taking only a very small blanket or even just a towel rolled up under the shoulder girdle.

 

Finish with some reclining twists and a forward bend, and then let your heart lead the way…

Stress got you down? Legs up!

A regular yoga practice is scientifically proven to balance our modern-day lifestyle by reducing stress, slowing the aging process, and calming the fluctuations of the mind. The stress and chaos of modern-day life may be the very thing that led us to seek out our first yoga class. And, once we find an inviting studio and skillful teachers (like our incredible, knowledgeable teachers here at Five Pillars), we experience the benefits of a yoga practice. We know in our minds, bodies, and spirits that yoga works.

But when chaos ensues in our everyday life — our nerves get frayed, our patience gets short, our exhaustion runs high — and we find ourselves desperate for a yoga practice… well, this is also usually the precise moment when we all of a sudden can’t find the time to head to the studio! Which of course can lead to even more stress and anxiety!

When you feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water, throw yourself a life preserver!

If you have five minutes, practice this one posture for just five minutes… as if your life depends on it. Keep it simple and restorative. And breathe deep!
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Viparita Karani – The Five Minute “Legs Up the Wall” Practice
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According to Dr. Andrew Weil: The Legs Up the Wall Pose is an inversion pose in which you lie on the floor next to a wall and place your legs together vertically against the wall. The Sanskrit name, Viparita Karani, comes from viparita meaning reversed or inverted and karani meaning action. The pose is a restorative and relaxing pose as it inverts the typical actions that happen in our bodies as we sit and stand.

* It provides stress and anxiety relief
* as well as reducing menstrual symptoms and back pain
* It is also good for leg swelling for
varicose veins.

The pose is simple and can be performed for extended periods of time

Step One: Choose and/or setup your environment

Find a peaceful place where there is a wall at work or home where you can listen to soothing music, sounds of nature, and lie down.You can even do it in bed! Rub a drop or two of a calming Legs up theWallessential oil such as lavender, ylang ylang, or frankincense (the King of Oils) between your hands and take in the relaxing smell. Gather any props (a yoga mat, blanket, bolster, sandbag, eye pillow) that support your practice. Please note that you do not need any props for this pose, but they can add benefits to the experience.

Step Two: Notice the layers of your being (the koshas) as you begin your practice

  • ~ Pay attention to your physical body, including your muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones.
  • ~ Notice your energy. Are you high or low or somewhere in between?
  • ~ Sense your emotional body. How do you feel?
  • ~ Sitting in the seat of your witness self, begin to observe the fluctuations of your mind, as thoughts rise and fall like ocean waves.

Step Three: Send your legs up the wall for 3-5 minutes

yoga_legs_up_the_wall_ARTLegs up the wall asana is exactly as it sounds. Make sure you edge up close to the wall, so your sitz bones are pressing against it. Your legs and torso are perpendicular. Feel free to bend your knees to relieve tight hamstrings. If you experience strain in your low back, try supporting yourself with a blanket or bolster. Bring your hands by your side, or opened into a capital “T” shape, palms face up. Allow your eyes to close and simply focus on breathing into your belly.

*You can time yourself with by playing a 3-5 minute song (here’s one of our favorites) or setting a timer with a soothing alarm.

* This pose can be modified to be even more gentle – lying on your back with your legs on a chair, or simply propping your legs in a slanted position with pillows on your bed.

* This pose can be practiced for 3-5 minutes or longer… if it feels good, stay! Some yogis restore in this pose for up to 20 minutes!

Step Four: Take a moment in savasana and notice the effects of your practice

Bend your knees and gently roll onto one side. Make your way onto your back and set yourself up for savasana.

  • ~ Tune into your physical body, including your muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones.
  • ~ Notice any pulsing, streaming, or tingling sensations in your body. Paying attention to your energy, check in with yourself and sense if you high or low or somewhere in between.
  • ~ Notice how you feel.
  • ~ Continuing to sit in the seat of your witness self, observe the fluctuations of your mind, as thoughts rise and fall like ocean waves. Notice if your mind is racing or if your yoga practice worked to calm the fluctuations of the mind.
  • ~ Thank yourself for grabbing onto the life preserver! Though this practice consists of only one pose, for just a few minutes, be assured the benefits run deep.