Greetings Moonbow Friends!
Here’s what I have been musing about lately…
Well, here we are… the last month of the year. At times, I feel like I just sat down for my New Year’s Day meditation, contemplating what 2018 had in store. Yet when I allow for a longer pause to fully reflect on my year, I recognize just how much has been packed into 2018 – great memories, a few stumbles, several travel adventures, and a deeper sense of personal purpose and service. And lucky me – there are still 19 days left in the year to savor and enjoy!
My goal for the rest of 2018 is to commit myself to really “walk the talk” and “do as I teach”. In my yoga classes, I advocate for More Rest, Less Stress and encourage the art of slowing down. Setting an intention to mindfully slow down will also help as I gear up for end of year holiday festivities with friends and family. I’m all in to keep it the season of JOY, and not the season of frazzled and fatigued. Who else is ready to savor the rest of 2018?
Last weekend I led a Restorative Yoga Training and had the pleasure of spending a full day with 10 amazing women, who were focused on learning more about the power of rest and ways to cultivate a restorative yoga practice. Restorative Yoga is a quieting and intentionally slow practice that ultimately reduces the effects of modern day stress and dis-ease. Restorative yoga is about learning how to REST and cultivate CALM. The body is placed in supported postures (using several props, such as bolsters, pillows and blankets) that are traditionally held longer than in active yoga classes. The prop support and extent of time in the postures helps to enhance the healing benefits of “active relaxation”, which has a multitude of physical and psychological benefits.
Resting is an Advanced Art
Restorative yoga is often considered an advanced practice. In a restorative posture, you are being asked to “be still and relax”, which is the opposite of what is common during 90% of traditional Hatha yoga classes (stretch, flow, strengthen). The mind often sees physical stillness as an agitation, and this can create a powerful barrier to total relaxation, especially when You. Got. Stuff. To. Do.
Trust me though, the advanced challenge is so worth it!! When you give yourself permission to pause and rest, you will harness the antidote to the busyness syndrome that conspires to build more stress, less rest in your daily life. A yoga practice abundant in gentle and supportive postures, calming breathing exercises, and guided relaxation techniques stimulates the Relaxation Response, inviting you to naturally slow down, rest, and listen, so you are better able to tap into your inherent power to heal with self-care.
Most of us need to be given permission to switch from the doing to the being mode, mostly because we have been conditioned since we were little to value doing over being. – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Taking your Time
You can practice restorative yoga in any space, preferably one that will allow you to be undisturbed by external distractions. Since controlling the universe is outside your human skills, distractions are likely, whether in the form of loud weather, construction crew at the neighbors, rowdy kids, curious pet, temperature of your office, ceiling lights, random noises and voices at the yoga studio, etc. Set yourself up for success by creating the conditions for relaxation with the following 4 characteristics:
Quiet – Allow for minimal to no noise (for some, soft background music or a white-noise machine can help). Take off your watch and turn your phone on silent mode.
Warm – As you rest, your body temperature lowers. Be prepared with layers and blankets, and if possible, adjust the thermostat.
Safe – Any perceived threat will heighten the Stress Response and total relaxation may be futile. Use enough props so that the body is not stretched to an edge, which will protect the safety of your joints and muscles. Practice in a room/space that feels safe and if possible, lock the door. When taking a yoga class, you can request to not be touched/adjusted and you can arrive early to pick a spot in the studio that feels most safe to you.
Dark – Bright lights stimulate the nervous system, so dim or turn off the lights. You may also like to close any curtains/blinds. Candles can create a gentle and calming ambiance. Eye pillows or a scarf can be placed over the eyes to relax the eye muscles and block out light.
Like any healthy habit or good intention you wish to keep, consistency is key to sustainability. It is said that a few minutes in a restorative pose will reduce worry and fatigue more than a night of restless sleep. So perhaps start by giving yourself permission to take 5 minutes a day for a restorative pose or relaxing breathing practice (pranayama). WARNING: you may discover that 5 minutes is just not long enough, but that’s a risk you’ll have to take to realize how rejuvenating it can be to take time to get time.
Relax & Recharge at Home
Most yoga studios offer Restorative Yoga or classes that integrate restorative postures into the class. (pssst – at BlissBlissBliss, I teach a Tuesday night class, Evening Flow, and we do restorative postures for the last 15 minutes… you can also catch me one Sunday/month when I teach a full 75 minute Restorative Yoga class. The Sunday class is every week at 3:30pm and a group of amazing teachers rotate weeks).
When you just want to practice at home, try combining the following two practices from Yoga International and Yoga Journal to rejuvenate and relax in the comfort of your family room. The Yoga International practice, by Lizzie Brooks, is an uplifting sequence of gentle postures that are lovely to do before resting into longer-held restorative postures. The Yoga Journal practice, by Jillian Pransky, includes five wonderful postures that will nourish and nurture your body and mind. Short on time? Pick one sequence and go! Really short on time? Choose a restorative pose from the Yoga Journal sequence and settle in for 5 – 10 minutes. Your body and mind will thank you with a relaxing sigh.
When you need a boost of rejuvenation, yet you don’t have time for a long practice, a bit of movement will keep you flowing through your day. The Half Sun Salutation (Ardha Surya Namaskar) is a short sequence that links breath and movement to settle mind chatter, enhance circulation, and energize the body. You can practice HSS at home, work, or even during a holiday party (just head to the host’s bathroom and do a few rounds next to the sink!). VeryWellFit.com offers clear directions for practicing the Half Sun Salutation. If you wish for an OMG moment, check out this video from the BlissBlissBliss 2010 vault! I cringe at a few cues that I have revised over the years, and I’m humbled by my overall nervousness – but overall, you get a short practice that goes through the half sun salutation and a variation to include gentle twisting and side-bending. Have Fun!
ESSENTIAL OIL MUSING
What are you diffusing this Winter? Oils to bring on the holiday cheer? Immune boosting blends? Comforting and relaxing oils to help unwind? I have been loving the combination of Fir and Citrus, such as Siberian Fir & Green Mandarin or White Fir & Grapefruit. The combined aroma is gently stimulating and uplifting. The oils simultaneously keep me present while helping me to breathe with more ease… both intentions I need during the holiday season: Just breathe; Just be.
Want to discover easy and effective ways to care for yourself and family with natural solutions?
Schedule a FREE 30 minute Moonbow Wellness Consultation and together, we will pave a solutions path unique for YOU.
Kindness is Key: An Ireland Yoga Retreat
September 29 - October 4, 2019
Save $200 when you register by January 15th!
Daily yoga classes, guided meditations, and optional art activities. Plenty of time to relax or adventure around Co. Clare and the Cliffs of Moher.
Have you been musing about deepening your personal yoga practice or are you inspired to share and teach yoga to others?
The 2019 Moonbow 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program is filling quickly!
Learn more about the program HERE, and contact me for an application.