Friday, February 19, 2010

A Quiet Yoga Practice

We've been doing quieter work this past week, with most classes ending in a long supta baddha konasana (as in the picture), and some simple pranayama (breath work), before savasana.   Many of the other poses we did were done with support -- not every class did all of the following poses, but most classes did some: backbending work over a chair or bolster;  chair shoulder stand or a wall-supported shoulderstand, or plow pose with feet on a chair; legs up the wall pose; forward bends with the head resting on a chair or a bolster.   All classes started with supine leg and abdominal work -- not necessarily easy poses, but quieter because the back and head are resting on the floor.

Why do we do quieter poses?    You've felt how the more active poses invigorate us while we work to stretch and strengthen our bodies.   This active work "wakes us up".   But sometimes we need to slow down in our yoga practice, just as sometimes we need to slow down in our busy lives, to maintain our health.    Most, if not all, of us experience frazzled, jangled nerves from time to time.   We may feel stressed from too much busy-ness and from too many obligations, and then we may get agitated or angry or depressed from this. Our physical health can then start to suffer: we may get sick more readily, we may have more headaches, more digestive problems, higher blood pressure, more heart problems.

The quieter asana and pranayama work in yoga helps us to calm our minds and soothe the nervous system, and it "recharges our batteries".  It can bring the immune system back into better working order.    Many of you commented after class how calm and relaxed you felt, especially after doing supta baddha konasana along with the simple breathing exercises.  We all need this calmness from time to time.

You might be interested in reading this article:
Restorative Yoga For Body and Mind

It includes photos of a few restorative poses, and lists the benefits of these poses.

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