We hope that the summer is treating you well and, whether you are in the valley or out of town, that you are feeling rejuvenated with some free time or a vacation. Many are choosing to have staycations where they vacation at home or in local resorts.I have a student who recently told me that she is vacationing at home this month and creating a spa experience, which includes daily classes and an hour and a half massage at Desert Song, daily trips to the health food store for smoothies and great salads, afternoon movies, trips to art museums, dinner with friends at her favorite restaurants and afternoon naps or meditation sessions. She looks so rested and rejuvenated that it got me thinking that we could all create time within our schedules to restore ourselves from the stresses in our lives.
Our theme this month is restoration. It is such an important aspect in keeping ourselves balanced and healthy. With the excessive heat in the valley, many of our teachers use this month as an opportunity to slow down the pace of their classes by going deeper into the postures and allowing the breath to aid in the reduction of heat in our bodies. This affects our internal organs and glands most specifically the liver, brain and adrenals which tend to suffer greatly from long-term heat.
Here are some easy additions you can do in your home practice to help to restore your body:
1. More twists and hip openers which will aid in the reduction of heat and intensity in your body.
2. Sitali breath – inhaling through your mouth with a curled tongue and exhaling through your nostrils will cool the lungs and calm your nervous system.
3. More restorative postures such as reclining your spine along a bolster with your feet together and knees relaxed to side while taking deep steady breaths will allow your chest and spinal muscles to relax.
4. Placing your legs up the wall for 5 minutes and focusing on your breath will help with general circulation and to relax the nervous system.
Next time you come into the center, ask your teacher or your massage therapist for some suggestions. We will be glad to incorporate specific techniques into your class or session to restore the balance you are needing. A few of our staff members have some specifics here that you can incorporate into your daily routines this summer.
Supported Bound Angle Pose: One of the Most Relaxing Poses of All Restorative Poses
Adam Montoya, TCI, CYI
If there was only one restorative pose for relaxation, supported bound angle pose would be it. This pose cradles the body, which helps tension melt away in the shoulders, chest, abdomen, and inner thighs. You can practice deep breathing in this pose and experience the breath massaging the lower abdomen as well as filling the lungs with life giving oxygen. This pose affects four key acupuncture meridians that affect the immune system, the free flow of life force, and our physical and emotional constitution. Supported Bound-Angle benefits those with high blood pressure and breathing problems. It is also helpful for women during the menstrual period and during menopause. In my restorative class we always build up to this pose and combine it with a special meditation technique. I find it to have the most benefit in experiencing a deep state of relaxation.
Entering the pose:
1. Prop a bolster at an incline with the short end touching your tailbone.
2. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together.
3. Place rolled blankets or cushions underneath your outer thighs and if you have a sandbag, place it across your feet.
4. Use your hands as support as you lay back on your bolster. Place a folded blanket underneath your neck and head at the desired height for you.
5. Bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing upward. Hug your shoulder blades to the spine and then relax them into the bolster.
6. Breathe deep, exhaling and inhaling slowly a few times. Then breathe normally.
You can remain in this pose for 10 to 15 minutes or longer.
To come out, guide your knees together with your hands and sit up or roll to one side off of your bolster.
Cultivate Coolness and Calm with the Inverted Lake Pose
Alisa Gray, RYT 200, CYI
Pregnant yogis living in the desert have specific challenges brought on by our extreme weather, including swollen feet, varicose veins and insomnia. This summer, take a plunge in the inverted lake pose to relieve your symptoms and quiet your mind. Commonly referred to as “Legs up the Wall,” this restorative pose, or asana, relieves a variety of ailments anytime in your life, but is especially helpful during pregnancy. Its Sanskrit name, Viparita Karani, means “inverted lake”reflecting the health benefits of inversions for circulating fluids and prana or life force energy throughout the body. By inverting the legs and feet, blood and hormones move easily downwards. In this modified prenatal version, the torso remains slightly elevated to reduce the weight of your baby on your organs and back, while your legs eventually move apart providing a gentle stretch to your pelvis, hamstrings and inner thighs.
1. Place a bolster (or stacked and folded blankets) approximately 1 – 1 ½ feet away from the wall. The bolster should be perpendicular to the wall. Under the end of the bolster furthest from the wall, place either another bolster to form a “T” or a block, creating a small ramp for your back.
2. Sit facing the wall with your pelvis against the end of the bolster. Adjust the space between the bolster and the wall as needed for you and your baby’s comfort.
3. Allow your torso, neck and head to recline along the bolster and place your feet on the wall. Bend your knees and bring your feet flat against the wall, adjusting the height of your feet as necessary for your comfort.
4. Slowly allow your knees to widen away from the center, as if you were in a squat position. Rest into your pose breathing smoothly and deeply for approximately 3-5 minutes.
5. To come out, gently roll to one side, using your arms to bring you up slowly to a seated position.
Using Essential Oils to Restore the Body
Kelly Knapp, LMT, CYI
When thinking of restoration, consider the benefits of essential oils and how they enhance our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. Essential oils are so molecularly small that they quickly penetrate the skin and will be distributed to every cell in the body within twenty minutes and can remain up to two hours. You can receive the benefits of essential oils by inhaling or diffusing, applying topically (check for sensitivity before applying liberally) and some may be taken internally. We carry Young Living oils in our boutique; please ask at the front desk for our selection.
COOL OFF with peppermint through inhalation and topical application. Try rubbing a drop onto the back of your neck and feet. Adding 1 to 2 drops to a tepid bath can be very cooling and refreshing.
Lavender creates emotional balance and assists the Nervous System. It is soothing to the emotions and skin. Apply lavender to a sunburn or a combination of lavender and aloe vera for soothing relief.
Peace and Calming reduces depression, anxiety and stress. Used at the end of the day, it promotes relaxation and helps with insomnia.
Release enhances the removal of memory trauma from the liver where anger is stored. It assists in the letting go of negative emotions and frustration. Apply over the liver and on the feet.
Valor helps to balance the electrical energies within the body and is very grounding. It brings a feeling of calmness, peace and relaxation. Apply to the feet.
Our muscle is the densest part of our body and holds a lot of physical and emotional debris. To assist in its removal try an Epsom Salt bath. Epsom Salts is magnesium sulfate and magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. In the heat of summer many will hesitate to take a bath. Try adding Epsom Salts to a warm or tepid bath and truly restore and rejuvenate your body’s well-being.
4 cups of Epsom Salts
Natural oil – Almond, Apricot, Jojoba
Essential oils of your choice
Soak for 30 minutes. ENJOY!