Restorative yoga sequence to calm anxiety and soothe your nervous system
This practice works with the neuro-endocrone system to bring about a state of peaceful and calm clarity. It's medicine for my over-thinking and anxiety-prone mind. I hope you find it useful too. At the bottom of the page is a recording of the savasana and meditation on the glandular system that I led during class. *Please note that this practice guide is not intended as prescriptive and if you are dealing with issues of anxiety you should definitely work with someone in person.
* This practice is intended for people who are familiar with yoga and the correct use of props. Always consult a qualified instructor if you have questions. Don't do anything that hurts. If you feel scared or uncomfortable with any of the suggestions below, don't do them.
1.) Self-massage. This is a great tool and super easy to make- tie up two tennis balls in a sock and voila! You have a fantastic neck massager. Lie down with the prop positioned at the base of your skull where your skull meets your neck. The curve at the base of your skull is called your occiput. Slowly move your head and allow the pressure of the prop to dissipate the tension in your sub-occipital muscles. These are the small muscles that control your subtle vision adjustments and focusing your eyes. Relax your eyes as you do this. 5 minutes
2.) Neck and shoulder stretch. Have a folded blanket to cushion your shoulder, place it in front of your knees. Reach one arm between your legs and grab the opposite heel, roll your shoulder in towards your chest and place the back of your shoulder on the blanket and your head on the floor. Keep your chin tucked as you push into your shins to raise your hips as you roll weight towards the back of your skull and shoulder, walk your other arm forwards to lengthen your side. 30 seconds each side
3.) Headstand on headstander (ONLY DO THIS IF YOU'VE DONE IT BEFORE WITH THE GUIDANCE OF A TRAINED INSTRUCTOR). 1-3 minutes Variation 1- legs up or feet supporting at the wall. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Variation 2- legs tucked, more weight is rolled to the back of the shoulders, fully release the weight of your head and relax your neck. Variation 3- arms release forward Variation 4 - arms up and behind *for 3 and 4 have your feet on the wall for balance and in both poses try and release the weight of your head from your neck
If you don't have a headstander you can do variations 1, 3 and 4 with chairs- make sure the chairs are on a sticky mat and be near the wall. Again, don't do this alone if you've never done it with someone to show you how before.
3.) Supported Bridge. Make a T shape with two folded blankets for your shoulders, a bolster and one folded blanket for your torso. Lie with the bolster/blanket along the length of your spine. Make sure that your pelvis is on the bolster too, let your shoulders rest on the two blankets and your head rests on the floor. 5-10 minutes
4.) Supported shoulderstand with a chair. Adjust the height of blankets under your shoulders and sacrum so that it suits your body. Your weight should be in your sacrum and shoulders, not your head. You want your neck and head to feel comfortable! (This is another one that you should receive instruction in, in person, before trying at home.) 5-10 minutes
*to exit this pose bring your feet to the back of the chair and then slide off the chair in the direction of your head, into the next pose
5.) Constructive rest with calves on the chair. Arrive here from the previous pose, keep whatever height you had for your shoulders now for your pelvis, let your calves rest on the chair seat. Option to bring your feet together and let the knees rest out like butterfly pose. 5-10 minutes
6.) Supported upside-down forward fold. Have a bolster and folded blanket under the curve of your lower back, bring your legs up and over your head. If you're stiff use the loop of a belt around the backs of your ankles and let the weight of your hands rest in it. If you have longer hamstrings you can grab your feet and rest all the way back. Think about the shape you'd make in a seated forward fold, it's like that but upside-down. 2-3 minutes
7.) Wide-angle seat with a twist. If you're stiff you might need a few folded blankets to sit on. Make sure that you sit in a way that your spine doesn't get pulled into a slump, so you're comfortably upright. Take one hand forward and the other behind and very gently twist, feel the length of your waist, release the weight of your pelvis and rotate from your ribs and chest. Let your rotation move all the way up into your face and eyes. 1-2 minutes each side
8.) Supported revolved head-to-knee pose. Use whatever you need to sit for support. If a bolster isn't high enough for to actually release in the pose then use a chair. 1-2 minutes each side
9.) Twist with shoulder opener. Bring the loop of your belt around the foot of the extended leg, and the tail of the belt to your opposite side waist, wrap the arm that's on the side of the extending leg behind you to grab the belt. Twist towards the lengthening leg. 1-2 minutes each side
10.) Child's pose with blanket rolled in the abdomen. Adjust your blanket roll so that it only provides pressure in the softness of your belly. It should restrict your breathing or press into your ribs. Accept the pressure in your belly, relax your organs in response, let your back broaden and release from your lower ribs towards your hips. Make sure your forehead is supported and you can let go of the weight of your head. 3-5 minutes
11.) Prone savasana. Place your bolster length wise under your torso so that you are supported from your pubis to the base of your throat. Have a blanket folded to support your head. Let your legs completely relax and your heels turn out to the sides. Allow your front body to receive the pressure of the bolster and soften in response. 5-10 minutes
12.) Supported savasana. Place a bolster under your knees and support your head with a blanket. If the room is light use something to place over your eyes. 5-10 minutes
Listen to the guided meditation in your savasana.