The Easiest Way to Grab 10 Minutes of Bliss
By Amber Kleid • Rumble Contributor | When students come to my restorative yoga class, the first thing I usually tell them is to get ready to “lay around like broccoli.” If you’ve ever seen the kind of energy that broccoli brings to the table, it isn’t much. And that’s what I expect from you. If my students don’t leave the class half cock-eyed and stumbling, then I haven’t done my job well.
With that said, there are two kinds of people that venture into my classroom. Those that know they need to relax and are practically “lights out” before the class begins and those that swear they can’t relax and raise a skeptical eyebrow. They’ve heard about the mysteries of restorative yoga and like an anomaly that lies behind a circus tent door flap they’ll gladly pay .50 to see, they’re curious what it's all about.
These folks need what restorative yoga has to offer the most, even if they don’t know it yet. I will always remember the student that came and declared that “I cannot relax!” and at the end of Savasana (our final resting pose), she was sound asleep. I’m not saying it will happen with everyone, but if you’re open and willing to try it and give your body a chance to unwind, I promise you will receive its benefits.
So what is restorative yoga all about anyway? When we lead busy lives, when we’re not feeling well, when we don’t feel in tune with our minds or bodies, a restorative practice offers us a safe space to rekindle these relationships with Self. A chance to move out of our sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight” mode into our parasympathetic nervous system or “rest & digest” mode. It comforts your mind and body down to a cellular level and gives it an opportunity to repair any damage caused inadvertently by overworking ourselves, stressing ourselves out, and absorbing all the craziness in the world around us.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the pictures social media spreads around of the ripped man balancing on one foot at the edge of a mountain peak or the one where the woman balances on her forearms with her toes resting lightly on her head like it ain’t no thang? Now imagine the complete opposite. A woman lying on her mat with a blanket underneath her for comfort. She’s turned to rest on her favorite side with a folded blanket both under her head and between her bent knees and she’s snuggled up to a big pillow or yoga bolster. Her breath is long, steady, and restful. She’s comfortable and feels safe enough to relax completely and let go of the day.
In yoga, a good rule of thumb is to know that you receive the greatest benefits from your practice not through forcing yourself into a pose, but by releasing and surrendering to it. I.e. you lay around like broccoli.
You can practice restorative yoga any time of day. If I’ve had a restless night’s sleep I’ll do a pose in the morning but they are wonderful to use to prepare you for a good night’s sleep as well. I suggest at least one pose held for 10 minutes if that’s all the time you have.
Set the mood first by telling anyone that might come barging into your sacred space that you have killed for less and this time you require is not to be bargained for. Put your phone on do not disturb mode, turn on some soothing music, light a candle, set an intention, and allow yourself this tiny little slice of bliss.
Here are two really wonderfully relaxing poses that are easy to incorporate into a home practice. As with anything physical you choose to do, please talk with your doctor to make sure a restorative practice is right for you. Chances are they will give a resounding “yes!” but there can be some contraindications that might be more harmful than beneficial.
What do I need?
Restorative yoga props include a mat, a yoga bolster or two firm pillows, 2 yoga blocks or 2 thick books, a yoga strap, bathrobe tie, or dog leash. I like to use 2 blankets or two thick towels but more is always better. Optional props to make the practice even more delicious include a scented eye pillow and sandbags to rest on your palms, belly, or shoulders. You can substitute bags of rice or beans for the sandbags. Comfort is queen and the more propped up and supported you can make yourself, the more relaxed and comforted you will feel!
This pose is wonderful if you’re on your feet all day, have swollen ankles, or have trouble falling asleep. Don’t practice this pose if you have a hiatal hernia, if you are more than three months pregnant or at risk for miscarriage, or you have sciatica. It’s also been said if you’re on your moon cycle to stay away from inversions as the blood flow moves back towards the major organs. I might suggest avoiding it on heavy flow days.
This is a wonderful pose to try if you’re feeling overwhelmed, worried, or fatigued. It can help with digestion as well if you choose to rest on your left side! This is nice for pregnant women as well. Just be sure to support the belly with an extra blanket underneath it.
Here’s an invitation to join Amber’s private Facebook group for women: Yoga for a Courageous Life where she teaches personal growth tools to take off your mat into everyday life.