Summer, (though our British weather may sometimes call it in to question!), in Ayurveda is the Pitta (fire) season. One way of creating balance through Ayurveda is to live in harmony with the seasons. If you find that the summer brings about discomfort and agitation then, as a cooling and slow practice, restorative yoga has the capacity to help bring you back into balance.
One of the best things about restorative yoga is that it can benefit just about everyone whether you’re a seasoned yogi, a Crossfitter, a mum-to-be or someone with no yoga experience whatsoever. If you happen to be somebody who has a Pitta dosha (which can be further irritated by excess heat) you may find this practice especially beneficial.
Supported by props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks, restorative poses are held for several minutes at a time (typically anything from 5 to 20 minutes). Consequently, this activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the autonomic nervous system in charge of our rest and digest activities). The idea of using props is that the support they provide makes it easier for your body to relax into each pose, allowing the mind to hopefully follow.
One of my personal favourites is Supported Child’s Pose (as I’m demonstrating in the above picture). Like all restorative poses it calms the nervous system and in addition, this particular pose gently stretches the lower back and hips as well as aiding digestion. I’d typically hold this pose for five minutes. It’s a good idea to turn your head halfway through to get an even stretch down both sides of your neck too. Also, if you have delicate knees be sure to pad with blankets as much as needed, and for extra comfort you can pop a rolled up blanket under your thighs as I’ve done here. Comfort is of the utmost importance in every restorative pose.
If you’ve never tried restorative yoga before then come along to a Relax & Restore class on Friday evenings 6.45-7.45pm at Embody Wellness. In each class you’ll experience a handful of supported poses to help you beat the summer heat and ease away the stresses of your week too.