We carry a lot of stress when we are caught up in the pressures of daily life. Some of us don't actually realise how stressed we are untill there's a crisis and suddenly we are unable to cope. Our central nervous system is forced into a situation of "fight or flight" as it struggles to protect the body from the emergency.
Restorative yoga has the ability to melt away any tension and pacify a stressful mind. It cultivates an inner awareness, encourages mindfulness, stimulates digestion, and soothes the central nervous system.
A gentle flow of simple restorative poses is wonderful for the body and has the ability to increase flexibility and strength while releasing tension. This is a healing practice giving huge benefits when the poses are held for a few minutes.
The simple luxury of not being in a hurry to get off the mat, and having the time to really nurture the spine and create space in the body, improves overall equilibrium, connecting body mind and soul.
Gentle restorative yoga is all about active relaxation. It’s about breathing into the poses, feeling sensations in the body, letting go without forcing, while allowing the connective tissue and nervous system to unwind.
Here’s a check - list of signs that you need restorative yoga in your life
Having difficulty falling asleep at night.
Feeling tired when waking in the morning.
Unable to turn off the noisy brain, no matter what is going on.
Needing a little less chaos in your life.
Cannot stop multitasking when you shouldn’t, like eating meals, at a red light.
Checking your smartphone while reading this post.
The poses I have selected are suitable for a gentle home practice, so roll out your mat somewhere warm and comfortable. Perhaps light a candle and play some relaxing music as you bring yourself onto the mat and make each pose feel amazing and relaxing.
Begin in child's pose, bringing your awareness to slowly breathing into the base of the spine and feel the spine lengthening ase the tailbone gradually moves down towards the heels. Hold the pose for 5 minutes.
As the breath softens the mind moves into a stillness that gives a feeling of releasing and letting go.
Cat- Cow pose is synchronised with the breath. Inhale as you arch the back and look up to the sky. Exhale and round the back tucking the chin to the chest. Repeat the sequence six times.
HEAD TO KNEE
Coming onto your back inhale both knees into the chest, holding the shins. Exhale and lift the head to the knees take a few breaths and then release the head to the mat.
DOUBLE LEG ROTATION
Keeping the knees bent in the centre bring your arms out at shoulder height. Inhale to prepare and then exhale the both knees to the right, turning your head to the left and breathe into the stretch for three minutes. Inhale the knees back to centre and exhale the knees to the left, turning the head to the right.
EYE OF THE NEEDLE
Place the right foot on top of the left thigh and thread the hands round the back of the left thigh as you inhale. Exhale and draw the left thigh a little further towards you and feel the stetch in the right glute. Repeat on the other side.
SINGLE LEG ROTATION
Lower both legs along the mat. Inhale and bend the right knee. Take hold of it with the left hand hand and exhale the knee over to the left, turning the head to look down the right arm. Breathe into the stretch for three minutes. Repeat on the other side.
Rlease both legs along the mat placing them a little wider than hip width apart, aloww the feet to flop outwards. Bring the arms slightly away from the body with palms facing up. Make sure the lower back is pressing into the mat. Close the eyes and give yourself a body scan relaxation to finish.
Starting at the feet say to yourself - My feet and toes are relaxed. - My ankles and carves are relaxed. - My knees and thighs are relaxed. - My bottom and belly are relaxed. - My back and chest are relaxed. - My hands and fingers are relaxed. - My wrists and forearms are relaxed. - My elbows and upperarms are relaxed. - My shoulders and neck are relaxed. - My face and forehead are relaxed. - The crown of my head is relaxed. - My whole body is completely relaxed. I am at one with myself. Namaste.
Practice this sequence every day for a week and notice any changes in how you feel in yourself how your body responds to each movement and how the breath helps to release you deeper into the pose. You may find you have increased energy, better focus, feel more uplifted in yourself and have a better understanding of being in the moment.
Annie teaches One-2-One yoga sessions in her studio in East Molesey Surrey.
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