In the evening the home yoga practice centers around poses and breathing techniques that ratchet down the stress response in the body. When we are awake, the nervous system is on high alert and we are constantly aware of sensory perceptions in order to maintain ourselves at work and at home. When it is time to rest sometimes the nervous system is still engaged at a very high level. These practices will reduce the fight or flight response and begin to induce the relaxation response to prepare the body and mind for sleep.
Hold the hands open in front of the abdomen with the palms facing upwards. Touch the tips of the ring and pinkie fingers together.
Benefits: Reduces stress and blood pressure
Benefits: Helpful for anxiety and insomnia
Begin lying on the back with the legs straight and arms extended over the head, take an inhale to prepare.
Exhale and draw the right knee into the chest, holding it with the right hand.
Inhale draw the right knee out to the right side with the right hand, left hand in cactus on the floor.
Exhale and cross the right knee over to the left side of the body with the left hand, right hand in cactus on the floor.
Inhale back to the center and extend the right leg up toward the ceiling, holding behind thigh with the clasped hands.
Exhale draw the right knee to the chest.
Inhale extend the leg to the floor and the arms overhead.
Exhale and repeat the entire sequence with left leg.
Therapeutics: Opens the major joints of the lower body and stretches the legs, hips, low back and shoulders
Reclining Thumb to Big Toe Pose I
Supta Padangusthasana I
Lie on the back with the legs straight. Draw your right knee into your chest and lengthen the left leg onto the floor. Wrap a strap around the ball of your right foot and extend the leg into the air. Reach the hands up the strap until the elbows are straight but the shoulders are still grounded. Hold for 10-20 breaths.
Therapeutics: Stretches the hamstrings, calves, buttock; also releases tension in the lower back.
Reclining Thumb to Big Toe Pose II
Supta Padangusthasana II
Lie on the back with the legs straight. Place a block on the outside of the right hip. Wrap strap around the ball of the right foot, extend the leg and hold the strap in just the right hand. Externally rotate your leg and as you exhale , lower the leg directly out to the side so that the outer thigh rests on the block. Extend the foot into the strap and reach the left arm out to the side keeping the left hip on the floor. To release, use the inner thigh to draw the leg up to center. Hold for 10-20 breaths then release to center.
Therapeutics: Stretches the hamstrings, calves, inner thigh, outer hip and buttock; also releases tension in the lower back.
Reclining Thumb to Big Toe Pose III
Supta Padangusthasana III
Lie on the back with the legs straight. Place a block on the outside of the right hip. Wrap strap around the ball of the right foot, extend the leg and hold the strap in the left hand and slowly bring the leg across the body as you twist the lower body, keeping the shoulders on the floor and the right arm out to the side. To release, drop the right hip into the floor and allow the leg to follow. Hold for 10-20 breaths then release to center.
Therapeutics: Stretches the outer hamstrings, calves, outer hip, buttock; also releases tension in the lower back.
Supported Easy Seated Pose
Sit on edge of folded blanket in front of a chair with legs crossed. Inhale to lengthen the spine and place a bolster vertically in lap. Lean forward on to the bolster which is supported by the chair. Turn head to one side and rest arms in chair seat.
Therapeutics: Gently stretches hips and back, helps to release tension in the back while surrendering the mind.
Soft Abdominal Breathing
Begin lying down with head and knees supported. Rest hands on abdomen and feel movement of abdomen. Notice fullness in the belly when you inhale and the relaxation in the belly when you exhale. Imagine a balloon in the lower belly that inflates when you inhale and deflates when you exhale and concentrate on the feeling of breath dropping down into that part of your torso with soft transitions between inhaling and exhaling. Emphasize a soft open belly so that the abdominal organs can expand as the diaphragm descends. Repeat for 1-3 minutes.
Benefits: Activates relaxation response, opens Svadhisthana Chakra
Practice Tips: Use when feeling overwhealmed or anxious
Lie on back with legs in the seat of a chair. Lift pelvis off floor and place block or a folded blanket under pelvis. Place arms away from sides and palms up. Rest 15 minutes.
Therapeutics: Induces relaxation response, reduces swelling of feet and legs, relaxes lower back
Contraindications: High Blood Pressure
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.