Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Time to Take a Nap

 (Image from the forthcoming Yoga Teddy Bear Coloring App)

I recently saw a t-shirt that said “I live for Savasana.”  There’s another one out there that reads “Namaste in Bed.”  These are cute and funny sayings – and they also ring true.  Rest is critical to emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  Our bodies and minds need rest to repair and heal.  In our modern time-squeezed world of endless sound bites and constant data streaming, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the noise and forget to simply check out sometimes.  

Here are four of my favorite resting yoga poses.  When you need a little break, try them.  They are perfect for either the end of the day or to gently awake in the morning. 

1.  Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)  (find it in the Yoga Teddy Bear & Friends Coloring Book)
This playful pose is a favorite of kids and grown-ups alike.  As an extra bonus, it will help you get things moving in the morning if you need some help!  Lay on your back.  Hold the outsides of your feet, or grab your big toe with two fingers in a yogi toe lock.  Keep your arms inside your knees.  See if you can press your whole spine on the ground.  Give yourself a little back massage.  Smile, wiggle, giggle, roll around, breathe...and feel good!

2.  Windshield Wiper Legs (Supta Matsyendrasana) (find it in the Yoga Teddy Bear: Things & Stuff Coloring Book)
The technical name for this one is Revolved Belly Posture.  As a passive twist, it’s the most gentle way to detoxify your body.  Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor.  Spread your arms.  Gently let your knees fall to one side and turn your head to the other side.  Breathe deeply.  Next bring your legs back to center, then switch sides.  Imagine the gentle rain lulling you into deep meditation or sleep as you rock your legs back and forth to the tempo of your breath.

3.  Corpse Pose (Savasana) (Find it in the Yoga Teddy Bear and Friends Too Coloring Book)
When writing the text for the coloring books, I struggled with using the words “Corpse” and “dead.”  But why not address the truth directly?  Death is something we all share.  It makes everyone equal, whether you’re the President or the poorest person on earth. The beauty of yoga is that each class mimics the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  A good class will open thoughtfully, then reach a climax of difficulty and effort, and end with Savasana, the final resting pose. For many, it’s the reward at the end of class!  Lay comfortably on your back.  Separate your legs and let your feet flop open.  Relax your arms next to your body.  Separate your teeth and relax your jaw.  Close your eyes. Pretend to be dead but keep breathing slowly and deeply.  After practicing Savasana, roll onto your side and rest in a fetal position before pressing yourself up to sit.  Open your eyes and see as if you have been born anew.

One of Yoga Teddy Bear’s editors wanted to give Body Scan an “Advanced” designation in the coloring book.  In the end I left it as “Easy,” because the difficulty key is really designed to prevent injury, and it would be hard to injure yourself doing this pose!  However it will doubtless test your ability to focus to the max.  Lay on your back and close your eyes.  Listen to your breathing.  Quietly become aware of your whole body, inside and out.  Start with the bottom of your feet and end with the top of your head.  What can you name?  Check in with every little part, from your baby toe to your beating heart, from your elbows to your ears, from your belly to your brow.  Smile because you are YOU!

Remember in the hustle and bustle of life, to find the time to rest each day.  It’s a critical piece to taking good care of your beautiful, unique self.  There will never be another you and you are perfect just as you are, so allow yourself to relax and check out for a while.  Until we meet again, Namaste!