Once again, the focus of this restorative sequence is on orienting the body in relation to the pull of gravity. After spending time centering and becoming aware of the breath and the movement it creates in the body, we take a series of hanging poses, suspended from the ropes. In this way the body can release fully into the shapes of the poses without having to expend energy to support itself at all. Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose), Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose) and Adho Mukha Shavasana (Downward Facing Corpse Pose) follow with the body draped over a bolster to achieve a similar hanging effect.
- Come into any comfortable seated position. Sit up on as much support as you feel you need to sit quietly and with ease for several minutes.
- Fold the palms together in front of the chest and rest the thumbs against the breastbone in a prayer position.
- Take a moment to allow the body to settle into the shape you have created with the pose.
- Take a moment to let go of the events of the day that have led you to the present moment and to let go of any expectations or anticipations you might have.
- Become aware of the release of the ribcage as it drapes down the length of the body with each exhalation.
- If you find your mind wandering, bring it back to the sensations of your pose and the awareness of your breath.
- Stay like this quietly for few minutes. Either sit for a specific amount of time using a timer or sit until you are unable to release any hardness in the body that may arise as a result of your seated pose.
- Lie on the back with the feet flat on the floor and the knees up, the feet and legs parallel to each other and a folded blanket under the head.
- Belt the thighs so that the adductors to not have to work to hold the legs up and let the thigh muscles relax.
- Allow the body to settle into the floor, both the external body and the organs deep within. Take a few minutes observing the breath as it alternately empties out of and fills the body.
Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Pose) with the feet apart on the ropes [3-5 minutes]
- Fold over your rope set-up with the rope in the hip crease and tuck the legs up between you and the wall. You might need to step up off a block. Support yourself with the hands on the floor if necessary.
- Make sure you have enough padding over the rope to make the poses manageable.
- From Hanging Child’s Pose, slide off the rope so that it is across your belly and drop your feet to the floor. Put the feet on blocks if necessary.
Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) over a bolster [5—10 minutes]
Viparita Karani (Upside Down Pose) [5—10 minutes]
- Focus on releasing the back body, allowing it to soften and to move with the breath.
- Begin with the buttocks, allowing them to release away from the pelvic bones.
- From there, work your way up to the lower back. Allow the lower back to soften with the exhalations and expand with the inhalations
- Next, turn your attention to the lower ribs. Allow them to soften and expand, opening up around the kidneys.
- After that, draw your attention up to the back ribs. As you allow them to release, encourage smooth and even movement, seeking out any gripped areas and encourage them to free up.
- Finally, pay attention to the neck, allowing it to soften as the head tumbles down off the bolster onto the blanket.
- Lie flat on the back with the head supported by a blanket. If you find that an unsupported Shavasana is uncomfortable for you, use any props that will allow you to release completely.
- Take a few minutes to become aware of the weight of your head sinking back into the blanket. Be aware of exactly where the neck ends and the head begins: the neck goes al the way up behind the jaw to the level of the ears. Allow the head to release away from the neck.
- Allow the brain to sink towards the floor inside the skull.
- After a minute or so, imagine that the brain is tumbling to one side inside the skull. Allow the head to gently roll to that side. Stay in this position for several breaths, allowing the neck to release under the weight of the head.
- Imagine the brain now rolling to the other side. Use this image to gently roll the head to the other side, allowing the neck to release once again, repeat this several times.
- Finally, allow the head to roll back to center and to release away from the neck once more.
- Remaining in your easy Shavasana, turn your attention to the face. Allow the skin of the face to release away from the midline and fall towards the ears and the floor on either side of the head.
- Soften the jaw from the chin to the hinges and the tongue from the tip to the root.
- Soften the ears deep into the ear canal.
- Soften the roof of the mouth and allow it to dome up into the nasal cavities behind the eyes.
- Soften the temples and the muscles around the eyes, allowing them to sink back into the sockets.
- Spend a few moments focusing on the temples and allowing them to release completely from the outermost corners of the eyes towards the opening of the ears.
- Remaining in Shavasana, become aware of the movement of the breath through the opening of the nostrils. Allow there to be a softening outwards, away from the the nose across the cheek bones.
- Become aware of the breath moving through the nostrils and the sinuses, behind the eyes and upper jaw.
- Become aware of the movement of the breath behind the roof of the mouth and the root of the tongue, through the back of the throat.
- Become aware of the movement of the breath in the ribcage.
- Become aware of the movement caused by the breath in the abdomen.
- Observe the movement of the breath in the body as a whole.
- Still in Shavasana, turn your attention to your thoughts. Observe them with the same detachment with which you have observed the rest of your body. If the mind wanders, or you get lost in a thought, simply acknowledge what has happened and bring your attention back.
- Observe the movement of your thoughts as they emerge and fall away as if they were concrete objects, like the breath flowing through the body.