“Tis the season to be jolly”, so the song goes. Well, as children perhaps we certainly enjoyed looking forward to presents at this time of year. As adults though, sometimes the end of year holidays can bring a lot of stress. We can get overloaded with advertisements on our televisions and computers for all the wonderful gifts we should give our loved ones, and we can get overloaded from all the holiday celebrations. Now is a good time to let our yoga practice help us stay centered, grounded, and find some peace and joy.
One great way to counteract holiday stress is through restorative yoga. Restorative yoga uses props to support the body in poses that open us as we relax, allowing gravity to do the work. Restorative poses are held longer than we would if we were actively using our muscles, sometimes for 10 minutes or more.
The following is a short sequence that I use when I need some grounding and peace. You will need a bolster, some blankets and blocks, a chair, and some wall space to do these poses.
- Supported Bound Angle. This pose helps to open up the pelvis, inner legs, abdomen, and chest. This is one of my favorite poses for just letting it all go!
- Supported Bridge. This pose helps to open the shoulders, chest, and abdomen, and bringing the head below the heart in this position helps to “cool” the brain.
- Legs Up the Wall. I discussed this pose in the June 2011 Howler, as part of the back care sequence. This pose brings a back bend into the lower back and provides relief to tired legs.
- Twist on a Bolster. This pose gently twists the spine, and must be done to both sides for equal amounts of time.
- Supported Child’s Pose. This pose opens the low back, and is great for regaining a sense of security. Again in this pose it is important to practice with your head turned to one side, then turn to the other side for an equal amount of time.
- Savasana (or Corpse Pose) with Legs Elevated. This pose can help to release tension in the low back along with providing the deep relaxation of Corpse Pose. Notice the variation with using a bolster. The legs are lightly strapped onto the bolster to hold them in place if needed.
As with all poses, finding the position that works best for your body is important. May this restorative practice bring you to a place of peace, allowing you to experience the joy of this season.