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:
Legs Up On a Chair
As with all restorative poses, our aim is to feel grounded enough to fully relax and release tension. Last month we explored Constructive Rest and this pose is an adaptation of it. By elevating our legs we can further release the tension in our backs and Psoas.
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: A chair. You can also use a couch or an ottoman. A yoga blanket for comfort on a hard chair. A yoga blanket or rolled towel for head and neck support. Eye pillow. A quiet space. Phone on silent. Optional: a bolster, pillow, or another blanket on top of your shins for added weight and grounding.
Shape: Lay down on your back resting your legs on the seat of the chair. Make sure they are supported from the backs of knees to the heels. Place bolster on top of shins for added weight. I like to place my hands on my abdomen or one on my belly and the other on my heart. You can opt to have arms gently at your side with palms facing down (grounding/calming) or facing up ( receiving). I like a folded or rolled blanket under my neck and head as I will be here for awhile. The eye pillow helps block out the light. My handmade eye pillows are available with aromatherapy properties which add to the experience!
Practice: Make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you are comfortable. 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.
Take time to come up to an easy sitting pose. Set an intention to stay aware of your breath as thoughts overwhelm you. Namaste.