A spiritual guide to better sleep – Restorative yoga

Published: February 18th, 2020

”While doing this – time and space disappear and you reach maximum recovery”

In the second part of our resting sequence, we aim to reach maximum recovery via restorative poses. This type of yoga promotes deep relaxation through passive stretching and by holding the poses for a longer time, often with the help of props like pillows and blankets. To our help, we’re guided by yin yoga instructor, Reiki healer, and our in-house-medium Rosanna Irgensdotter. Cuddle up, lie down and catch the sleep train. 

”Resting in soft restorative- and yin yoga-positions provides maximum relief for the body’s system. By supporting the body’s joints with pillows, blankets and really feeling that one is held, a deep recovery is allowed. In yin and restore we stay in the positions for a minimum of three minutes, until we suddenly feel like we are becoming one with the ground or ”melt down” in the pillows. While doing this – time and space disappear and you reach maximum recovery. Restorative yoga strengthens and builds up body and mind, and is good for the immune system and blood circulation. I recommend that you relent and stay in each restore for 20 minutes. Put on a soft song in the background or a guided meditation for the length you want to stay. ”

The Butterfly
”The butterfly is a nice back stretch and it also opens up the hips. Here we do it in the most recovering way – but still, be careful with this position if you have knee or back problems. Sit upon a couple of pillows so you come in contact with both of your sitting bones. The hips should not tip back (if they do – take an extra pillow). Put some pillows in front of you so you can fall softly from the hip with a rounded back, let the spine roll slowly from vertebra to vertebra until it says stop (but preferably a bit before it stops – don’t stretch it too much). There you stay. We want an extreme rest in this position, so it is wise not to push yourself forward. The purpose is to soften up and relax. Feel free to open your mouth and take some really deep breaths. You can put your hands between the soft pillows in front of you. An option is also to put a heavier pillow on your thoracic and maybe a blanket over your head. Let the body relax and stay for 20 minutes.”

The Goddess
”This incredibly beautiful position is called the goddess. It opens the chest, extends the neck and helps your back and shoulders for ultimate relaxation. I find it so restful, supportive and calming for body and mind. In the image, I use a yoga-block and a bolster to ”steady up” the position, but it goes just as well with, for example, a book and a harder sofa cushion. On top of the harder cushion, you place a long pillow and another under your seat. A pillow where you can rest your kneecaps is incredibly comfortable as well. Place your hands and forearms on something soft and feel free to put extra weight over your hip and possibly in other places if you feel extra ”volatile”. Pull something warm over you and preferably have an eye pillow. Take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to really show the body that ”now you let go for a while”

Side rest
”A position that relieves anxiety, tension and loneliness. This position is soft, kind and really invites you to release. Lying on your back doesn’t suit everyone, and if you are pregnant, this position is so nice! Make sure you lie on something soft. The bed works fine but I actually prefer the floor but on one or two duvets to get a comfy surface. Side rest is most healing when we stay in position for a long time, preferably up to 20 min or more. Therefore, it is extra important to really make sure the position feels good for your whole body, because if something small irritates you, it will probably aggravate and make it difficult to relax, so take your time to really support the body with pillows so that you lie completely comfortable. Put a pillow under your waist, under your hip and a long pillow (or two) between your knees that supports the whole leg, all the way down to your foot. Under your head, you have as many pillows as needed to really lie relaxed and be able to release tension and melt into the ground. Make sure arms and hands rest softly and put a blanket or something warm over your body. I always put a weight, like a heavier pillow or meditation pillow on the hips or the feet to be properly grounded. Feel free to wear an eye pillow over your eyes and maybe even over the top of your head. Take a couple of really deep breaths to feel the air fill the sides of your body, your back, and your stomach. Lower your shoulders and just sink into the softness of this position.”

Supported child’s pose
“A true favourite of mine is the Supported child’s pose. And with support, I mean A LOT of it. Many Yoga styles are practising The child’s position, but Yin really allows our bodies to soften up and get all heavy. The child’s pose activates the parasympathetic nervous system and the whole body relaxes. The back is stretched out and the flexibility increases in both thighs and hips. But above all, the position calms the brain and helps it to reduce stress. Place a bolster and loads of pillows between your knees and let your body melt softly to the ground. Rest your cheek against an extra pillow if it feels right – in this position, you can’t get too much support. A pillow under your seat and something soft under your ankles and feet could do the trick. And don’t forget to lay your hands and forearms against support to allow them to get heavy. I also find it very suiting to have something a bit heavier resting on the back, down towards the lower back. For some of us, it’s also a good idea to cover our eyes to help block out our surroundings. When you are all set, take a few deep breaths and exhale. Let your stomach and back get completely relaxed, create a small space between the lips and release.”

Want to know more about Rosanna and her classes? Follow @reikirossi or read more here

Words by: Antonia af Petersens

Images by: Josephine Blix

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