Restorative Yoga at Home

May 17th, 2012


Restorative yoga is a good practice. It helps relieve the effects of stress by providing a completely supportive environment where you alternately stimulate and relax the body to move toward balance. This quiets the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides a “recovery phase” for all the activity of the world. Here’s a simple restorative yoga posture that you can try at home.

This posture is adapted from Judith Lasater’s book Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga For Stressful Times. Judith is one of my mentors and I learned to teach restorative yoga from her. She says, “The practice of yoga is fundamentally an act of kindness toward oneself.” As I wrote in an earlier blog post, The Antidote to Self-Hate is Compassion, learning to be kind to ourselves is a vital practice.

Yoga, and restorative yoga in particular, is a nice adjunct to any kind of therapeutic work you may be doing. Finding a teacher you connect with is important too. Many yoga studios now offer restorative classes or workshops. Judith also has a second website, Restorative Yoga Teachers, where you can search by city and state for teachers who have completed her training program. From time to time I offer restorative yoga workshops for fellow therapists and counselors as a form of continuing education.

So here is the posture, Legs on the Couch. All you need is a thin blanket, an eye pillow (if available), and a couch or sturdy chair.

Legs on the Couch

Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knee, and let the couch (or a large enough chair) support your calves and feet. Your calves and thighs are at a ninety degree angle to each other.

Place a thin, folded blanket under your head and neck for additional support. Close your eyes and place an eye pillow, if available. This helps remove any ambient light and supports you in turning inward. Lower your chin slightly. Focus on your breathing. Feel your spine supported by the ground, the tension draining from your legs.

Stay for 5-10 minutes, or even longer if you feel comfortable. If your mind starts wandering, simply come back to your breath and the sensations in your body.

To come out of the pose, remove the eye pillow, open your eyes, and rest for a few breaths. Bend your knees toward your chest and gently roll to one side. Pause for a few more breaths and bring yourself up with the help of your arms.

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