Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lazy yoga

My favorite yoga poses are the lazy ones. I'm sure I'm not the only one to call them that, but the more sensitive term would be restorative poses.

Forget about going animal with all those down dog poses, up dogs, and cat-cow breaths. Restorative poses are the ones you relax into, with the objective being, well, no objective really. Just rest.

Take legs-up-the-wall pose. Of course there's a more technical name for it: Viparita Karani. But legs-up-the-wall pose is what my yoga teacher calls it, and that's exactly what you do: Lie on your back, butt up against the wall, with legs at a 90-degree angle resting on the vertical surface. There's nothing better after a long run. I can almost hear my legs sigh, "Thank  you."

Another favorite: supported butterfly (a.k.a. Supta Baddha Konasana). Again, you lie on your back. Here, your knees are open and the soles of your feet together. Bolsters or other props are used to support your thighs. Even better is adding more bolsters, a vertical one along your spine and maybe another to support your head and neck. Then just let yourself sink into the pose. Ahhhhh.

This next pose is done at the conclusion of every yoga class I've ever been to, and it's the one I look forward to the most: corpse pose, or Savasana. Basically, you lie on your back (see the pattern?). Your legs are slightly apart and feet turned out, arms resting on the floor and slightly angled out from the body with palms up. Quiet the mind, let your muscles relax, and let the floor support you. Some call this the hardest pose of all, because it's all about doing nothing. No fidgeting. No movement. Just rest.

Don't get me wrong. I love the more active yoga sequences, the flow of asana to asana.

But sometimes, a little bit of support and intentional rest is the best exercise.

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