Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Restore

At this point in the A to Z Blog Challenge, some of you may feel tired, worn out, depleted - as though you are pushing yourself, through sheer willpower, to finish the last leg of a marathon. If so, today's post is for YOU! I'm going to tell you a little bit about Restorative Yoga, and even show you an easy and restful pose that you can do at home.

Restorative Yoga is my area of specialization as a yoga teacher, and it is very different from our active yoga practice. Yoga is like everything else in life - we need to balance the periods of powerful, active strength-and-flexibility-building practice with periods of passive practice in which we allow our bodies to rest, to relax, to restore. Sound good so far? Well, keep reading ....

What is Restorative Yoga?
In Restorative Yoga, we place the body in comfortable supported positions that are completely passive. The goal is to reach a deep state of relaxation and rest, enabling both body and mind to heal.

What are the Benefits of Restorative Yoga?
The deep level of relaxation achieved through the poses has been shown to lower blood pressure, to soothe and aid digestion, to reduce muscle tension, fatigue and insomnia and to relieve stress.

Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Lay a blanket on the floor, snuggle your hips close to the wall and swing your legs up. It can also feel nice to place a neatly folded blanket under the hips for elevation, but not if it makes your back feel "archy."

This pose can relieve fluid retention in the ankles and feet. It stimulates the immune system by reversing the flow of
lymphatic fluids. And, it helps lower blood pressure because blood is sent back toward the heart, so the heart doesn't have to work as hard. 

Most people find this pose soothing and relaxing. If you try it, stay in for just a few minutes the first time to see how it feels. You can work up to 8 or 10 minutes, but come out of the pose if your feet start to fall asleep - afterall, it's meant to be comfortable!

A few more things:
The keys to deep relaxation in a restorative pose are:
Comfortable support (use as many blankets and pillows as you need to be comfortable)
Warmth (you'll become surprisingly cool lying down, so cover up)
Darkness (if it's light, place a folded facecloth lightly over your forehead so it just shields your eyes)
QUIET (complete silence is preferred, but if that's not possible, listen to soft, soothing music)

It only takes a few minutes to transport yourself to a soothing and healing place. If your mind wanders, say the Metta Mediation to yourself (See M post). So go ahead, Restore yourself!!


  1. I'm Meliss's husband and I got to tell you she knows what she is talking about. I was a skeptic however she has put me into these poses several times and they are most relaxing and restful. To be honest I find myself falling asleep in some of the more comfort poses with blankets - pillows - darkness etc.
    Try what she presented - you'll be much better off for it.
    I received no compensation for this tribute to her knowledge. Although she did mention buying me a mocha!

  2. This is so interesting! I've been curious about learning yoga for a while now, I think you have inspired me to give it a try. I'm definitely going to try this pose.

    I'm one who is feeling a little worn out but determined to finish the Challenge, so thanks for this post! :)

  3. Julie, restorative is a great way to start because it's so easy and restful. You can do Kick-butt yoga too, but this is like Dessert yoga. :-) p.s. I'm dragging too, but we're close now, so put your legs up the wall and tomorrow you'll feel better!

  4. Melissa,
    I've never done yoga, but this looks wonderful. I will try this pose!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I wish you the best of luck on your book! I am also writing a children's adventure/fantasy. What fun! We'll encourage one another.


  5. Great Post! And thanks, RV Painter for your endorsement of your lovely wife!

  6. OK, I tried it. Felt good. Then my husband walked in and started laughing his head off...but he joined me on the floor. So now we are both down there with our legs straight up. We laughed so hard, we had to stop the yoga.

    If nothing else, laughter is good medicine!


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