I did some lovely restorative yoga this morning, my favourite asana being Viparita Karani. Basically you lie on the floor with your legs up against the wall, with a cushion under your hips so they are raised to be higher that your head. It relieves tired legs, water retention, is restorative for the entire nervous system, balances blood sugar, hormones and sends fresh blood to your brain. It’s so calming and easy to do I recommend doing it for at least 10 mins every day if you can. (Although not good if you have high blood pressure, eye problems like glaucoma, neck injuries or your period!)
I have been learning all about restorative yoga and how our bodies react under stress from a fantastic yoga teacher called Judith Lasater. When we feel stressed in busy times the body produces hormones that increase our heart rate, blood pressure, mental alertness and muscle tension. This response shuts down our digestion, growth and repair systems, amongst others. Our ancestors thousands of years ago were designed like this for the flight or fight response to defend against an immediate danger. However their “in danger” situations only lasted for a short time and then their body returned to normal. When we get stressed now a days it can go on and on.
It’s so easy to keep going and going in our modern day lifestyle, I especially found this when I lived in London. When ever I go up there now I feel it’s high energy and really notice how drained people look on the tube!
A give a way sign that my body and mind are under stress is when I notice my jaw and tongue clenching, plus my shoulders. I also start to do things really quickly! It’s useful when meditate to bring your attention to the middle line through your forehead, mouth, chest and stomach and consciously relax them. This is where we tend to hold tension.
So that’s it from me for today, I am off to teach some lovely peaceful flow yoga now. Make time to relax this week, it’s important for your physical and mental health.