I’m grateful for Restorative Yoga, for the teachers who taught me how to discover my own practice and to guide others, for all the people who attend my classes, for everyone who is practicing yoga on and off the mat, making the collective consciousness that much higher. In honor of this thankful time of year, I would like to share my Essential Restorative – Gratitude (held Sunday, November 22, 2015) class sequence. Use this Gratitude Meditation as you practice, adding a new thing to the list of things you’re grateful for with each new pose.
Prop Setup: 1 bolster or 2 bed pillows, 1 strap or belt, 2 blocks or phone books/shoe boxes, 3 blankets (or more if you want to cover yourself)
Pranayama (breath work): Sit comfortably. Lengthen your spine and open your chest gently. Slow your breath to a comfortable, relaxing pace. Begin to count the inhales and exhales, noticing what your natural breath count is. Then, extend the inhale to a 4-count, not rushing or forcing the breath, just finding a count pace that matches your breath. Exhale for the same 4-count. Do this 5 times. Then, begin to add on to the exhale. Inhale for 4, exhale for 5. Do this 3 rounds. Inhale for 4, exhale for 6 for 3 rounds. Inhale for 4, exhale for 7 for 3 rounds. Inhale for 4, exhale for 8 for 5 rounds. Note: If an 8-count exhale is causing discomfort and tension in the body and mind, stop at a more appropriate count. You will build up over time.
Constructive Rest Pose: Use your long, double-folded blanket under your spine (optional). You will sit on the mat in front of it and make sure it is long enough to hold your lumbar spine all the way up to your head. Place your partially rolled blanket under your head. The roll fills in the natural curve of the neck. Wrap the strap (looped or tied in a large circle) around the thighs. Place one block between the thighs and tighten the strap until taut and comfortable. Widen the feet. Rest the hands wherever they are most comfortable.
Hold for 5 minutes. Take a slow breath in and out. Start to move the body, waking it up slowly. Remove the block from between the knees and the strap from around the thighs. Hug the knees. Make any adjustments you need. Take any stretches you want.
Windshield Wipers: The blankets under your head and back stay the same (as long as they feel supportive). Bend the knees. Walk the feet as wide as your mat. Drop the knees to the right. Because you will be here for several minutes, place your rolled blanket and/or block under the top knee (left).
Stay for 5 minutes, then switch sides. Be sure to adjust your props to accommodate this side (possibly differently than the first). Hold for 5 minutes. Inhale deeply and exhale through the mouth. As the attention returns to an easy breath, move, stretch, roll to one side. Push up to a seat.
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall): Place the long end of your bolster about 4″ away from the wall. Place your folded blanket lengthwise on your mat, making a “T” with the two props. Place your neck roll blanket where your head will go. Bring your looped strap close by. Sit on a short end of the bolster, close to the wall. Lay on your side. Lift one leg up as you roll onto your back and let the other leg follow. Bend the knees and wrap the shins or thighs with the strap. Legs are a little wider than the hips and relaxed. The strap is taut, holding the legs in place.
Stay for 5-20 minutes. See our Pose of the Month post for more variations! To come out, bend the knees. Remove the strap and pause for 1 minute. Move the bolster to the side. Roll to the other side and rest for 1 minute, observing the breath, the mindset, the body.
Diamond: Sit up on the folded blanket. Either cross the ankles or bring the soles of the feet together, knees wide. Place a block between the legs and another on the feet or in front. Lay your bolster over the top and add blankets if the props don’t come to you easily when you lay your chest and head upon them.
Stay for 3-5 minutes. Unlike the other poses, in which our breath is passive, you can breath slowly and steadily in this pose if you find it helps you release the body further, since it is a Yin posture. To exit, take a slow breath or two. Plant the hands and roll the spine up. Move the props. Stretch and move the legs.
Savasana: Use your partially rolled blanket for your head. Place your bolster and/or rolled blanket under the knees. Try the strap around the thighs and blocks under the hands and wrists if you like. A blanket over the hips and belly can be very settling.
Stay for 10-20 minutes. Soak in all the positive effects of your practice. Bring the attention back to a slow breath. Bend knees. Roll to side. Push up to a comfortable seated position. Thank yourself for taking the time to practice.
Essential Restorative with Brandee is once per month. Next up is December 20, 2015. Otherwise, check siestayoga.net/events for this class and other rejuvenating workshops!