Calming the Nervous System through Active Rest
Benefits: Relieves upper back pain, opens the chest, relieves depression and fatigue, stretches hips and groin; helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system to induce relaxation, calm and improved sleep
Contraindications/Precautions: Individuals with knee/groin injury, or with tight hips, may need to bring the feet further away from the groin to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Propping the knees higher can also help with this. Those prone to dizziness or vertigo lying flat on the back, or contraindicated by recent surgery and/or ongoing physical challenge, may wish to prop the top of the bolster with a block. If your elbows are raised off the floor, you can bring the floor to you by placing a blanket under the forearms so the whole arm is resting comfortably on the floor, palms up.
Props and modifications: Yoga bolster or firm pillow, a blanket, two yoga blocks
How To: Step by Step Instructions
- Place your bolster in the middle of your mat so the long side of the bolster is parallel with the long side of your mat. Place a folded blanket at the top of the bolster, to serve as a pillow under your head. Make sure your blocks are within reach.
- Sit directly in front of the short edge of the bolster (in front of, but not on it). Bend your knees, placing the soles of the feet together, and dropping the knees to make a diamond shape. Then, place a block under each thigh at a height that fully supports the weight of each leg.
- Lower your body onto the bolster, with head and neck supported by the folded blanket. Extend your arms to the side, with palms facing up.
- Close your eyes. Find stillness here for five minutes.
Take it Up A Notch: Ready for a more intense stretch?
Try bringing your arms over your head and holding each elbow in the opposite hand. This will increase the stretch in the upper back, shoulders, and chest.