3 Simple Poses to Help You Relax
Welcome to November! As we move deeper into this glorious fall season, we are beginning to see the signs of winter quickly approaching: chillier mornings, earlier sunsets, animals scurrying about preparing to hunker down for the next few months, and maybe even a little frost on the ground in the morning. We might even notice shifts within ourselves: the desire to eat warmer, thicker foods, the need to cozy up with a blanket, the challenge of getting up in the darkness of the morning, and even the tendency to want to do more indoor activities.
During this colder, darker season, when everything around us is moving into its own version of hibernation, it’s important to turn inward to listen and to honor your needs. This is the perfect time to create a practice that includes soothing and quieting restorative poses.
Here are 3 simple poses you can do at home to cultivate a sense of quiet, to help you turn inward, and to create the environment for deep rest, which is even more important as we head into the holiday season:
Simple Supported Criss-cross Backbend (3-5 minutes)
Simple Supported Criss-cross Backbend is a wonderful way to open the chest, shoulders, heart, ribcage, and belly in a very supported way. It can help counteract the rounding in the upper spine and shoulders that can happen when sitting in front of a desk or computer or even rolling out dough for holiday goodies!
(If you have low back issues or are pregnant this pose may not be for you. As with any physical/exercise program you should always consult your doctor before trying a new practice.)
- You need 2 thick blankets. Fold them both so they are about 2 ½ to 3 feet long, about 7 to 8 inches wide and about 5 inches thick. You can always adjust these measurements to suit your needs.
- Lay one blanket long-wise and lay the other blanket across it like a cross.
- Sit in front of the length-wise blanket, or on the very edge of it if you need additional support for your low back.
- Keep your knees bent and gently roll down to lie on your back.
- Allow the blanket that is cross-wise to support your mid-back bringing it into an arch. You should feel the top edge of that blanket lining up with the bottom tips of your shoulder blades.
- Allow your head to release back onto the remaining part of the length-wise blanket. Your throat should feel slightly open and released.
- Keep your knees bent and allow your spine to release fully into the support of the blankets. It should feel like an even, smooth curve along your spine from your tailbone to the back of your head.
- Receive your spine into your body and allow your heart to blossom open.
- Release your arms to the sides – wide and free.
- Breathe deeply into the belly, ribs, and chest.
- Draw into your heart someone or something that means a great deal to you.
- Give your intention life through your breath.
As you inhale draw the energy that you need in. As you exhale radiate the energy in your heart out into the world directed towards your intention.
Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose) (8-10 minutes)
(if you have low back issues, reflux or are pregnant this may not be the pose for you. As with any physical/exercise program you should always consult your doctor before trying a new practice.)
- Fold 2 blankets, so they each make a rectangular shape about 7 inches wide and 24 inches long.
- Stack one folded blanket on top of the other.
- Place the 2 folded and stacked blankets with the long side parallel to the wall and about 6-8 inches away from the wall (your hips will eventually go here).
- Fold a 3rd blanket the same way and set it up with the short side perpendicular to the 2 stacked blankets, forming a “T” shape (your back and neck will eventually go here).
- Roll onto your back and onto the blanket set-up so that your legs extend up the wall, your hips are on the blankets parallel to the wall and your spine and neck are on the blanket perpendicular to the wall.
(If you notice your hamstrings are stretching, come down and slide the whole set-up further away from the wall. This pose is not about stretching your hamstrings, but about releasing and relaxing.)
- Make sure your spine and neck are fully supported.
- Make sure the curve in your low back is fully supported. Your tailbone will gently drop toward the ground into the space between the wall and the blankets – your tailbone should not be not touching the ground, however.
- Your pubic bone and navel will be in the same plane and there will be a slight opening in the front ribs and chest- enjoy the freedom of your breath!!!!!
- Your arms can either release out to the sides or make a cactus shape.
- Allow the back of your neck to lengthen by softening the chin towards the throat. This will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system – the more quieting, restful part of our nervous system.
Supported Child’s Pose (4-6 minutes)
This is a wonderful restorative pose that encourages a sense of quiet and security, invites deep connection, and helps relieve low back discomfort as well as menstrual cramps .
(If you have chronic back pain, disc disease, nerve issues, knee injuries or are more than 3 months pregnant, this pose may not be for you. As with any physical/exercise program you should always consult your doctor before trying a new practice.)
Basic set up
- Place a bolster (or use 2 pillows stacked one on top of the other or 3 to 4 rolled-up blankets to make a bolster) on the floor lengthwise. Place a blanket folded in half or a pillow across one end of the bolster to act as a pillow for your head.
- Wedge a yoga block or a thick book under the pillow-end of the bolster to raise the area where your head will rest (about a 45 degree angle is good).
- Sit on your shins facing the bolster with your knees slightly separated, straddling the bolster between your thighs (about hip-width apart). Point your toes straight out behind you. If your knees or ankles are sensitive, place a blanket under your shins with the tops of your feet off the blanket edge. You can also sit on a yoga block, thick book or firm pillow.
- Fold forward, resting your torso on the bolster. Your belly and chest should be completely supported by the bolster. If they are not, add more blankets until they are easily resting on the bolster.
- Release your tailbone toward your heels. Your spine should have a nice even roundedness from the back of your head to your tail with your tail slightly lower than your head.
- Allow your arms to rest easily either alongside the bolster or wrap them underneath the bolster.
- Turn your head to one side making sure your head and neck feel supported. Remember to turn your head to the opposite side halfway through your stay in the pose.
- Breathe slow deep breaths, allowing your shoulders to melt away from your ears. Feel the breath massaging the back of your body.
- Allow your belly to soften and release onto the bolster.
- Close your eyes and pay soft attention to the rhythm of your breath.
- Enjoy the sense of quiet and introspection.
Peace, Love, and Bliss,
p.s. Want a custom Bliss Bite to answer your yoga, reiki, and wellness questions? Email or Facebook me!