Despite the busy-ness of our everyday lives & work, and even the intensity of our regular yoga practice and other exercises, we know deep down that rest & relaxation is “good for us.”
We might have even read the science & studies that show how practices like seated meditation, gentle & restorative yoga, and other relaxation techniques can lower blood pressure & heart rates, boost our immune systems, help us sleep better, and assuage the overall impact of chronic stress on our health.
Better still, you might have actually felt the relaxation response set in during savasana, on vacation, or during meditation.
While we know it’s good for us, how can we build restoration into our regular practice & daily lives, so that we might touch in with that steady calm and balanced energy that comes only from good rest & relaxation?
Here are some of my best tips & practices, specifically-tailored for the late Fall season we find ourselves in, derived from Ayurveda (the sister-science of yoga), principles of restorative yoga, and meditation & contemplation practices.
If you have questions, please let me know!
REstorative Rituals for Fall
Grounded in Ayurveda, the sister science of holistic well-being to Yoga, these practices will help steady you as the days get shorter & cooler. Let these five rituals anchor your restorative self-care this Fall.
Slow down - try not to eat on the run or multi-task. Stay present and move through your day, one activity at a time.
Stay grounded. Enjoy activities (like the restorative poses below) & food (like local, in-season root vegetables) that keep you connected & close to the earth. Eat well-cooked, warm foods. Stay away from raw & cold foods.
Protect the body from wind & cold. Keep your head, neck, and low back well-covered. Layers & a scarf are you best friends this time of year! Sip warm water & herbal teas throughout the day to warm you from the inside out.
Create daily rituals & routines that keep you connected & on track for feeling your best. Use this time before holiday travel, celebrations, and schedule changes pick up to solidify your essential, daily self-care & wellness practices. Keep it simple & portable so you can stay committed even when you’re on the road or hosting guests this holiday season. Use the suggestions here to ground you in simple, restorative daily practice.
Perform self-massage with oil to keep the skin hydrated, joints lubricated, and whole body nourished. Use sesame or almond oil for best results this time of year. Read more about this Ayurvedic daily ritual, called Abhyanga here.
Restorative Yoga Poses & Practices
Whether you practice these poses as a complement to a more vigorous yoga practice or other exercise or on their own, enjoy this restorative practice with deep, mindful breaths and slow, even movement. Start building you arsenal of personal props (blocks, bolsters, blankets, straps, eye pillows, calming essential oils) to best support your restoration & relaxation. Create sacred space in your own home that encourages you to slow down and experience these simple, yet powerful poses. These poses can be practiced in the morning, in the afternoon “siesta time” as an alternative to a quick fix like more caffeine, or before bed as a transition to a restful night’s sleep. Perfect for this transitional Fall season, and as we move toward Winter’s shorter, colder days & holiday season, which can be a difficult time to stay committed to your own self-care.
Questions for REflection
Why do you deserve good rest?
How are open or resistant are you to slowing down?
What internal & external obstacles do you face to slowing down, restorative practices, & rest?
What internal & external supports do you have in your life to support slowing down, restorative practices, & rest?
How grounded, centered, & connected do you feel in this moment? Most of the time?
How does your ability to take care of yourself relate to your ability to take care of others?
Create your restorative practice plan: This is how I hold space for myself, so I might hold space for others…
If you have time to practice just one pose, let it be savasana. Stay for 5 - 20 minutes!
This basic relaxation pose is said to lower blood pressure & slow heart rate.
Can be done in a fully supine position, side-lying (great for pregnancy), or even on the belly (can be extremely calming for those suffering from anxiety or PTSD).
Use extra support, like a folded blanket under the neck to stablize the head & under the knees to support the low back.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
A hip-opening, forward fold can alleviate tight hips & groin, while facilitating the quieting of mind by bowing the head.
Press the soles of the feet together & let knees drop out wide, hinge forward at the hips, as far as is comfortable. Stay 1 - 5 minutes.
Variation: Supta Baddha Konasaa (reclined bound angle pose) - instead of folding forward, this pose is done on the back. You can also support the upper body by placing the entire spine & head on an elevated bolster (use two blocks underneath to create a ramp).
This variation opens the chest, quiets the abdomen. The additional support of the bolster/block is great when regular savasana set up “doesn’t work” (especially during pregnancy, menstruation, and during the postpartum period).
Stay up to 10 minutes in this supported variation.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
Child’s Pose is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. You can use Child’s Pose to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Or separate the knees and either let the torso come down toward the floor (or rest on the bolster, as shown!)
Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
(One-Legged King Pigeon Pose)
Come onto all fours with your hands shoulder-distance apart, just in front of your shoulders. Bring your left knee forward and place it on the floor just behind and slightly to the left of your left wrist, with your shin on a diagonal and your left heel pointing toward your right hip. Now bring your attention to your back leg: Your right thigh should squarely face the floor so that your leg is in a "neutral" position. Establish this neutral leg by tucking your right toes under and straightening your right leg so that the thigh and knee come off the floor. You can fold forward over the front leg. Stay for 1-3 minutes & switch sides.
Thai Yoga Massage
A restorative type of bodywork, where you enjoy hands-on assists in restorative yoga postures to receive the maximum benefit of the movements.
Thai Yoga Massage can be incredibly healing & restorative for tired, sore muscles and help fortify you during this Fall season.
If you’re interested in more info, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions or want more information on any of these practices?
You can email me at thedailyvinyasa.com
To learn more about how to shift your restorative self-care practices to best support you this Winter, I’d love for you to join me for Seasonal Self-Care: A Winter Workshop on December 2, from 2-3:30pm at Flow. You can sign up here.
You can also practice Restorative Yoga at Flow every Thursday night at 5:15pm (with Sam!) and on Sundays at 5:15pm (with me!).