When we start to feel that we are taking care of ourselves and as we go deeper in our practice and land in trust, we will eliminate all that is no longer useful to us and find peace. Through the practice of letting go and letting be we can re-write our story. Here is the pose of the month to practice at home:
Supported Constructive Rest
As with all restorative poses, our aim is to feel grounded enough to fully relax and release tension. I love Constructive Rest. It is easily one of my favorite poses. When I'm a student, you will often find me in a prop free variation of this pose while waiting for the teacher to arrive and start class. I let go, melt into the floor, and fully arrive in the yoga studio.
This version, with props, is the full expression of the pose. The props allow us to fully let go. We won't use the muscles to hold us up. Constructive Rest is a great pose to specifically release the Psoas muscles. The Psoas (pronounced so-as) is one of our most chronically stressed muscles. It connects the lower spine to the thigh. When we feel unsafe, it is the first muscle to contract to help us fight or flee. Just thinking about stepping into traffic and realizing a bus is coming at you makes this muscle restrict and be ready to jump out of the way! This means that our nervous system is constantly communicating with this muscle. The Psoas not only constricts to protect us from danger but also when we sit too long, walk on concrete (hello NYC!), and drive. It is constantly prepared for fight or flight, therefore our nervous system is fired up and hence we can suffer from constant tension. Because it is connected at our mid-section, we then get back pain, hip pain, and digestive issues. Restorative poses like this one can reverse this and repair our rest and digest system. Read more about how Restorative Yoga heals here.
Props: Two blankets or large bath towels. First one folded to a rectangle shape for feet. Second rolled lightly for under a neck roll. Strap - make loop to fit around calves. 1 yoga block. Optional: Eye pillow. A quiet space. Phone on silent.
Shape: Lay down on your back. Place block in between thighs, lengthwise. Place strap loop around your calves. Tighten as needed to feel secure but not cut you off. Make sure metal buckle is not on your skin. The belt loop takes the pressure away from feeling like you have to hold and tense muscles to keep the block in place. The block keeps your legs separated and lets your hips sink into their sockets. Feet are on the folded blanket with heels on the mat, off of the blanket. Knees are bent. Blanket roll is under your neck to support the natural curve of your cervical spine. Have it rolled just as much as is comfortable for you. I like to place hands on my belly and tune into my breathing. The eye pillow helps block out the light. My handmade eye pillows are available with aromatherapy properties which add to the experience!
Practice: When ready to settle into pose, enjoy several long breaths to allow yourself to sink into the ground. Feel the support from the floor, or imagine mother earth below you. Relax, and deepen into this grounded feeling for 5-15 minutes. Come to notice your breath. Take note of your inhales and exhales. No need to change your breathing pattern but just notice. Let go of the thoughts that enter your mind. If that becomes difficult, come back to noticing your breath.
To finish, mindfully roll to your right side into a fetal position. Remove the block and slip off the belt loop. Take time to come up to an easy sitting pose. Set an intention to stay aware of your breath as thoughts overwhelm you. Namaste.