Rest is making a comeback and we all need to get on board. Without ample rest, our immune systems weaken, our brains don’t function optimally, our metabolisms slow down – the list goes on, but I’m sure you’ve felt at least one of these symptoms from lack of sleep and too much stress. The truth is, we need rest- we need to find a balance because going too hard usually ends with crashing hard.
Legs up the wall FTW.
Restorative Yoga: I’m coming for you.
One of the most challenging parts of my yoga teacher training was a 3-week homework assignment to choose and do one restorative posture everyday for 12, uninterrupted minutes. Everyday, I would set a timer and lay on my back with legs up the wall (best restorative pose EVER). At first, I was fidgeting after 2 minutes. After a few days and with the help of an eye pillow and some calming music, I could start to relax for about 7 minutes. And after a few more days, I was almost instantly relaxing as I laid down into this pose and couldn’t move after the 12 minutes. It was amazing how the repetition helped relax me deeper and deeper. It didn’t come easy at first, but after all, it is a practice, and sometimes the practice of letting go is harder than any other yoga pose.
Lately, I rarely make the time to do 12 (let alone 1) minutes with legs up the wall. I’m happily busy and tired from all the amazing #sweatpink adventures at Flex & Flow, at BlogFest in Vegas and next, our very first race in SF. But the busier I get, the more I need true rest – uninterrupted, supportive, restorative, and tension releasing rest – not the couch potato rest where I move my gaze from phone screen to television screen.
The Beam by Nimbleback
I was reminded how much I need restorative yoga when I taught an Active Restoration class with The Beam by Nimbleback, a long and narrow foam block used to amplify the effects of some restorative poses. It’s used to release tension in the entire spine with a series of movements and poses such as the simple seated posture with The Beam in between the spine and the wall as pictured later in this post.
After testing The Beam, I felt an immediate sense of release of tension in my body. I actually thought to break up planning a class using The Beam over the course of a few days, but it felt so good (and I clearly needed it) that I ended up doing a full 30 minute session using The Beam.
The Beam is bringing rest(oration) back.
If you’re sitting or standing in one place most of your day, you may tend to round your upper back (hunch), which creates tension in the shoulders, neck and jaw. Taking 5 minutes to sit against the wall with The Beam positioned vertically and in line with the spine helps you sit up taller and teaches you to use your core muscles to maintain that length through the spine.
For an extra (and heavenly) shoulder stretch, interlace your fingers, flip your palms, and take your hands up and over your head. Root down through the base of your pelvis, maintain the engagement in your core, and soften your shoulders away from your ears as you press through the palms.
Runners, yogis, athletes of any kind, if you have tight hamstrings like me, then The Beam is also for you. In this video, I stand with the long end of The Beam under the balls of my feet and keep a slight bend in my knees as I take a few half sun-salutes. After repeating a few times, hold the forward fold with bent knees. End with a supported Downward Facing Dog and Chid’s Pose with The Beam underneath the hands for wrist support and to help open the shoulders even more.
In my opinion, restoration is for everyone. We could all benefit from slowing down, breathing deeply, and letting go of unnecessary tension. Rest today, not only for a better tomorrow, but for a better now.
And if you need more of a push to incorporate this practice into you life… Restorative yoga and the use of The Beam can:
- Aid in a better night’s sleep due to released tension
- Balance stress hormones
- Calm the nervous system
- Aid in physical recovery
- Boost the immune system (helps prevent colds that are typically stress related)
What is one thing you wish to add to or take away from your current routines that would help you release tension and stress? Try and make that change for 3-weeks straight and see how it affects you.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Nimble Back. All opinions are my own. I truly appreciate all the brands that support the Sweat Pink community!