Browsing Tag

yoga for relaxation

Lifestyle Yoga

What Are Restorative Asanas?

June 23, 2020

In the last two weeks I’ve had two requests for a restorative class.  Seems like an interest in restorative asanas is building up. In view of the times we are living in, I’m not entirely surprised by the request.  However, I do feel that the requests were fueled more by the idea that restorative postures are for when you’re unable to do your regular workout, instead of a useful addition to the routine.

It’s a common mistake to equate ‘restorative’ yoga with ‘too easy for me’ yoga.  Many people consider restorative yoga classes to be ‘slow’, ‘easy’ and ‘for the old and injured’.

It is incorrect to think that a restorative yoga class is an easy yoga class that is somehow less than a vigorous sweat sesh.

What Are Restorative Asanas?

Restorative asanas ‘restore’ your body.  Restore it’s energy, vitality and good health.  Classes are slower, with longer holds for asanas.  Students are encouraged to use props and to always rest the forehead.  When you rest the forehead, your nervous system immediately relaxes.  In fact, I’ve taken my students through an entire class designed to show the difference between supported and unsupported asanas.  Watch it here.

The asanas in a restorative class are a subset of the ones in your regular yoga class.  But these are asanas focused more on forward bending and gentle twists and backbends (all with the support of props).  Below are examples of a few asanas that you may encounter in a restorative class.

 

Supta Badhakonasana. I love beginning a restorative class with this posture.

 

A restful janu sirsasana. Restorative asanas focus on relaxing the mind, by resting the head.

 

Dwi pada viparita dandasana. This posture is very intense, but this variation can be done even while you’re menstruating (as I was when this picture was taken).

 

A supported sarvangasana – a posture that should be done daily, but is not accessible to all. The props make it easier and more restful.

 

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

  • Provides relief from anxiety and stress.  Holding asanas for longer helps in releasing deep seated tightness.
  • Great for when you’re menstruating!  Even on your first day!
  • Promotes better sleep.
  • Helps the body to heal.  When your nervous system is rested it starts to work optimally, providing a boost to the healing systems of the body.
  • Improves immunity.  A stressed mind impairs the body’s ability to produce immunity-boosting cells, leaving the body prone to infection.
  • Lowers blood pressure (by promoting relaxation).
  • Relief from a busy mind and fast thoughts.

What’s interesting is that though a restorative class is slower than other forms of yoga, it doesn’t mean that a flexible and bendy practitioner who is ‘good’ at yoga will be ‘good’ at restorative yoga too.  In fact, I’ve seen very flexible and seemingly energetic students find it difficult to ‘rest’ and ‘do nothing’.  After all, in such a busy and complicated life, stillness is elusive and to sit and simmer with it all is more elusive still.

Have you ever practiced restorative asanas?  Do you find value in adding an element of restorative yoga to your existing yoga/fitness routine?

Lifestyle Yoga

Savasana – The Corpse Pose

March 27, 2020

‘Verse 32 of the First Chapter of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika states: ‘Lying upon one’s back on the ground at full length like a corpse is called Savasana.  This removes the fatigue caused by the other asanas and induces calmness of mind.’ (Light on Yoga, p 422)

And we’re finally at the end of our Immunity Sequence.  In the past few weeks many of us have incorporated these asanas into our daily yoga routines and it’s been incredibly gratifying to see everyone stick to yoga routines and, quite frankly, make the most of a bleak situation.  I do feel that once we’re through this #21daylockdown, we will see that our individual actions actually did make a difference.

Svasana is also called the Mritasana.  Sava and Mrita means a corpse.  Your main objective in this asana is to simulate a dead body.  A dead body has no movement, and no thoughts (wherein lies the challenge).

It helps to:

  • Calms the nervous system.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Relieves anxiety.
  • Restores balance.
  • Facilitates healing.

 

Contraindications

No contraindications!  Anyone and everyone can and should practice the savasana.

 

Busting the Myths

Savasana is everyone’s favorite posture.  It’s often treated as a posture where your body rests.  However, in this posture your mind is also supposed to remain still.  And this is what makes this posture the most difficult.   Read on for some practice pointers…

Practice Pointers

  • Initially you may fall asleep during savasana.  This just means that your body needs more rest.  Once your body get the adequate amount of rest, you will be able to bring a meditative quality to your savasana.
  • In a one hour class you must make sure to stay in savasana for at least 10 minutes.

 

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.

Lifestyle Yoga

Viparita Karani – The Inverted Pose

March 26, 2020

 

There’s a general consensus among modern yogis that Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose may have the power to cure whatever ails you. (Yoga Journal)

 

In Sanskrit Viparita means ‘upside down’ and karani means ‘doing’.

It helps to:

  • Regulate blood pressure.
  • Treat cardiac disorders.
  • Treat stress-related headaches, including migraines.
  • Gives relief from swollen feet.
  • Relieve nausea.

Contraindications

This is an inversion and as such should be avoided if you have serious eye problems such as glaucoma.

Busting the Myths

This is actually a restorative and relaxing asana, but the final pose is quite difficult for beginners and those with stiff backs.  Read on for some practice pointers.

Practice Pointers

  • You can do this asana with your legs on a chair, or even on your bed!
  • It’s a little unwieldy to get the buttocks close to the wall to get the legs up, but there is a technique (see video).

Stay tuned for more from our Yoga to Boost Immunity Sequence.

Download the Daily Yoga Practice Checklist.

Follow Amrutha Bindu Yoga here.

Follow Medha Bhaskar here.

Follow me (Pragya Bhatt) here.