Bedtime Ritual: Restorative Yoga
No surprise, my most favourite yoga pose is savasana, the amazing corpse pose at the end of practice. Every time I get there, relief floods over me. Shift Yoga and I share a love for slowing down, getting cozy during the coziest time of year, and creating amazing self-care rituals. So, we are joining forces again to teach the coziest workshop ever: Ease into Autumn. We're offering a season-inspired workshop building dream pillows with crystals, herbs and oils, followed by a guided restorative yoga practice, inspired by savasana. Amanda from Shift Yoga shares what it means to practice restorative yoga, and what you can expect at our class this weekend.
Restorative yoga is a deeply relaxing yoga practice that allows your central nervous system to develop a sense of balance. It allows you to achieve many benefits such as releasing tension in your lower back, preventing disease, or providing relief from tension that leads to headaches. Amongst the physical benefits of restorative yoga, there are also a number of psychological benefits, including exploring the mind/body connection, reducing anxiety, stress, and insomnia, and healing from past trauma.
For these reasons, restorative yoga before bed time can assist you in a peaceful night of rest, while preparing the body and mind for a moment of being rather than doing. We want to teach you an effective, healing and restorative yoga ritual to adopt into your bedtime rituals.
IMPORTANT COZY PREP
To prepare yourself for a sleepy restorative yoga practice, its important to minimize light as much as possible. Practicing with just candlelight is a soothing bedtime ritual, and totally my favourite. Minimizing noise as much as possible is also important, or even putting on some relaxing music to help get you in the mood.
You want to be warm, so put on some extra layers of clothing or cover up with a soft blanket and cozy socks. And finally, to minimize distraction as much as possible - shut off your phone and disconnect for a while.
• soothing music
• warm clothes
• soft blanket
• no cell phone
Restorative yoga uses many props in order to completely support the body, allowing you to fully relax into each posture. This is the backbone to restorative yoga. It is less about the flow and movement from pose to pose, but rather about sinking deeply into each pose, to allow the body a full release before bedtime. Here are some of my favourite cozy props to bring along:
• small soft blanket
• yoga strap
• block or bolster
• eye pillow
Begin your restorative yoga practice with a breathing exercise. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing will help you to focus your awareness inward. Place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your heart. Breathe deeply into the belly, pressing your diaphragm outward, noticing the hand rise as it fills. Follow this exercise and notice where your breath travels in your body. Continue for 5 – 10 minutes.
FAVE RESTORATIVE POSES:
Supported Bound Angle Pose
Place a bolster or pillow lengthwise on your mat. Sit on the floor with your lower back against the narrow end of the bolster or pillow. Reaching your heart to the ceiling gently lower down onto the bolster or pillow coming into a back bend supported by the prop. With bent knees, allow the soles of the feet to come to touch. If you need support for your legs, gently roll up a blanket and place it underneath each knee (or a couple of towels may work just fine).
Rest for 3-5 minutes or even longer if you like.
Belly Down Twist over a Bolster or Pillow
Place a bolster or pillow lengthwise along the middle of your mat. Sit in front of the prop and bring your right hip up to the prop with stacked bent knees. Slowly lower your upper body onto the prop and turn your head in the same direction of your knees. Allow your arms to gently rest alongside the prop with the palms facing up or down.
Stay for 3 – 5 minutes and then switch sides.
Legs up the Wall
Sitting sideways, press one hip against the wall with knees bent. Slowly lower down onto your back as you extend your legs up the wall feet reaching to the ceiling above you. Extend your arms out at shoulder height or above your head to gently work into your shoulders. Close your eyes and relax baby!
Enjoy this heaven for 5 – 10 minutes or even longer.
Restorative yoga can be practiced at any point in your day to benefit your overall health and wellbeing, but I love it as a bedtime ritual. One great thing about this practice as a bedtime ritual is that you can do many of these poses in your cozy bed using your blankets as extra weight to ground your body, easing you into the land of Zzzzs.
Transforming your regular nightly routine to slow down in this way allows your mind to follow along preparing you for rest. So turn down the lights, make yourself as comfortable as possible and just be with yourself for a few moments before you drift off to sleep. And don't forget to tuck your dream pillow inside your pillowcase to bring that healing energy deep into your dreams. Learn how to build one here.
Amanda Burkowsky is a yoga and meditation teacher based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A self proclaimed sloth yoga enthusiast, she has a passion for meditative styles of yoga. She has over 250 hours of training in yin, hatha, vinyasa yoga and mindfulness based stress reduction. With a background in social work and individual human development, Amanda designs her classes from a holistic perspective providing her students a mindful and meaningful practice. She created Shift Yoga in early 2016, taking yoga and meditation outside of the studio and into unique settings to provide intimate experiences where students can shift their perspective of connection and self care. She is a siamese cat momma, nature lover and avid concert goer, who believes in life long learning and exploration.