Category Archives: Restorative Yoga

Simple Self-Care

Simple Self-Care

Simple Self-Care with Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose

Restorative Yoga with Paula

Restorative Poses like this one are a simple, effective way to practise Self-Care. Here I’m demonstrating Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose

This is one of the most relaxing of all Restorative Yoga poses.

Supported Reclining Cobblers Pose is ideal for relieving fatigue, headaches, breathing problems, aiding digestion and much more.

For women this is also a wonderful pose to practise during your time of the month and during menopause.

Using props such as pillows, cushions and blankets provide support and facilitate physiological relaxation. I sometimes set myself up in this pose for my daily Savasana if I am feeling particularly tired.

You can use a yoga bolster if you happen to have access to one, but you really don’t need any special props for this pose – just grab hold of as many blankets, pillows and cushions as you need to ensure you have enough support and feel comfortable. Stack your pillows/cushions/stacked blankets or bolster on your mat or the floor so that they are on a diagonal (your head will rest at the higher end). Here is how to get into the pose:

– Sit with your tailbone at the lower end of your pillows/cushions/blankets or bolster

– Lie back on your support using your arms to ease yourself down. Your head needs to be supported here too so do adjust as necessary (NB – you may wish to place an optional folded blanket or extra cushion under your head).

– Place the soles of your feet together with your knees out to each side. Place extra support under each knee so that your legs are supported. Allow your arms to relax by your sides or on your abdomen.

– Cover your eyes with an eye pillow or light scarf or close your eyes to take your focus inwards

– Stay in this pose for ideally 10 minutes, but longer if you like. (I can often stay here for 20 minutes.)

Enjoy practising this pose whenever you need it!

365 Savasana So Far

365 Savasana So Far
365 Savasana So Far

Quarterly Check-in

In September 2014 I embarked on the 365 Savasana Project – the decision to practice Savasana for 20 minutes a day for 365 days. As we are about to embark on a new year, I also I find myself a quarter of the way through my year of daily Savasana and it feels like an ideal time to reflect on how it’s been so far. So, how has it been…?

HARD!

(I bet you didn’t expect that from a yoga teacher :) ) I did not expect it to be easy but so far it certainly has been much harder than I envisaged.

The actual act of lying down is simple. It is getting there every day, regardless of what is going on that has not been easy. And that’s coming from someone who loves Savasana and Restorative Yoga. In that case, why has it been so hard?

Resistance.

This has been (and continues to be) the biggest challenge. But I refuse to throw in the towel because I know that the more I feel resistance to practising Savasana, the more I need Savasana. I always, without exception, feel better afterwards.

The busier things get, the easier it becomes to neglect self-care. Yet, that’s when we most need to take care of ourselves. That’s been my personal experience, at least. Do you relate? Do you too find that you put your own self-care on the back burner as the pace of life picks up speed? Maybe you are taking care of others or have a demanding job, or you’re running your own business? There are a multitude of reasons why self-care may inadvertently fall by the wayside, especially during periods of chronic stress.

I’ve often prided myself on how much I can achieve in a day. Getting lots done and ticking items off my to-do list (the same list that somehow continues to grow as fast as I tick things off) can bring me great satisfaction. However, I’ve learned that being busy is not all it’s cracked up to be. Slowing down and practising Savasana reminds me just how powerful doing less can be. We do not have to worship at the altar of busy. For me, the past year has brought many ups and downs, as I’m sure it has for you too. My default, when the going gets tough is to, albeit unconsciously, let my own needs slide.

Let 2015 be different.

If you haven’t started your 365 Savasana but would like to, then why not begin today? You can find more details on how to get started by clicking here. I began my 365 days in September, but there is no official start or end date and it doesn’t cost anything apart from the time you allow yourself to practise. It is not a competition. It’s really about getting into the habit of taking some time for yourself each day so that not only can you give your best, you can be at your best. So, far from being selfish, you’ll be helping those close to you too. It is a simple and wonderful way to practice self-care.

However, if 365 days of Savasana is not for you, then I still encourage you to find healthy ways to look after yourself when you feel out of balance. Having your own personalised self-care toolkit at your disposal when you most need it will serve you very well.

Let’s all make self-care a priority in 2015.

Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats

Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats
Gift to Self: 2015 Yoga Retreats

While you’re Christmas shopping why not treat yourself to a yoga getaway in 2015.

I’m excited to be teaching on more yoga retreats for Sally Parkes Yoga in 2015.

If you’re thinking of a yoga getaway yourself, or would like to treat someone you know then you can find Sally’s full retreat calendar at her website here.

I’m next teaching on the Relax & Restore Weekend at Florence House (pictured) with Sally from 6th-8th March. This retreat features a wonderful blend of Hatha, Dynamic, Restorative Yoga and Pilates, a delicious, healthy vegetarian menu, beautiful surroundings and treatments available (click here for details). And for info on all the retreats I am teaching on in 2015 you can visit my retreat calendar here.

NEW CLASS: Sunday Flow

NEW CLASS: Sunday Flow
NEW CLASS: Sunday Flow

Embody Wellness, Vauxhall – Sunday Flow, 6.15-7.30pm

Feel rested, uplifted and ready for your week ahead.

From Sunday 14th December you can regularly join me for Sunday Flow at Embody Wellness in Vauxhall.

In the first half of this class you’ll be guided through a series of dynamic, flowing postures to develop strength and flexibility. For the second half of the class, the pace then slows down with a focus on restorative poses allowing you to release tension in body and mind. I look forward to seeing you there :)

Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist

Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist
Restorative Yoga for Christmas – Supported Twist

Supported Twist – Aid digestion, reduce water retention and relieve stress on your back muscles with this wonderful Restorative Yoga pose that’s not just for Christmas!

Also, like all Restorative Yoga poses this Supported Twist is great to practice if you have been feeling stressed or fatigued.

It’s really simple to do at home. You can use a yoga bolster if you have one, but you really don’t need any special yoga props – as you can see in this picture, I’m using bed pillows. If you want to create a similar depth to a yoga bolster then you can wrap two bed pillows together in a blanket or bath towel. You can also achieve a similar effect with cushions or take some blankets or throws from your sofa, fold lengthways and stack on top of one another – whatever works best for you! :)

Here’s how:

Arrange your pillows / stacked blankets so that one end is slightly elevated (as pictured)

Sit on the ground with your right hip at the lower end of your pillows / stacked blankets with your knees bent (your legs can rest on each other or you can separate them – whichever feels most comfortable)

Turn your torso to the right, placing your hands on either side of your pillows / blankets

Take an inhale, lengthening the front of your body; on the exhale ease your torso on to your pillows

Allow your arms to rest comfortably on the floor

For a deeper twist (optional), turn your left ear down to your pillow so that your head is facing the opposite direction to your knees

Stay in this pose on the right for up to 4 minutes then repeat on your left side for the same duration.

Enjoy! :)

Restorative Yoga Workshop – Relax and Restore

Restorative Yoga Workshop – Relax and Restore

Supported Child's Pose - Paula Hines U Can Yoga

Enjoy a nourishing 2-hours of Restorative Yoga

Delve into the practice of Restorative Yoga in this 2-hour workshop.

Relax & Restore Workshop – Saturday 25th October
3-5pm at Embody Wellness

Join me for a nourishing practice which will introduce to you the principles of Restorative Yoga and show you how to set yourself up comfortably in each pose.

In Restorative Yoga (sometimes referred to as ‘active relaxation’) we consciously manipulate the nervous system to create ease. Props are used to facilitate relaxation by supporting the body in passive postures for extended periods. While the body is supported we can completely relax into each posture. This enables us to relieve the effects of negative day-to-day stress, calming the body’s ‘fight flight’ response to facilitate proper rest.

Highly recommended if you are seeking stress relief or need to unwind.

Please click here to book.

Lower Back Relief (And More!)

Lower Back Relief (And More!)

In this video I show you how to use a yoga block to support your practice in Bridge Pose

VIDEO: Supported Bridge – a great Restorative Yoga Pose for Lower Back Ease and more

In this short video filmed at evolve, I show you how to use a yoga block to support your practice in Supported Bridge Pose. As someone with Spondylolisthesis in my lower back I find this particularly relieving and it helps to ease tightness I find sometimes occurs in this area, though this makes a wonderful restorative yoga pose even if you don’t have back issues.

Resting the weight of the sacrum onto a yoga block provides wonderful support, and allows the entire length of the spine to be stretched. As well as being great for general lower back weakness, this pose also opens up the chest, as well as the front of thighs.

Added benefits include:

– helps relieve stress and low moods
– boosts the parasympathetic nervous system
– helps reduce fatigue
– stimulates the abdominal organs and improves digestion
– improves quality of sleep and helps combat insomnia

I’d typically stay this pose for up to 5 minutes.

Here I also show you how to take this pose into an inversion. This can be a nice alternative to Shoulderstand if, like me you have some neck degeneration too and you don’t have access to wall space to practice Legs Up The Wall.

Want to experience more Restorative poses like this? Join me for Relax & Restore Restorative Yoga classes on Fridays at Embody Wellness 6.45-7.45pm.

If you’ve never been to a Restorative Yoga class and would like to know what to expect, you can read a review of my Relax & Restore class from Carly on her brilliant Project HB blog by clicking here.

VIDEO: Supported Bridge – a great Restorative Yoga Pose for Lower Back Ease and more – CLICK HERE TO WATCH

The glorification of “Busy”

The glorification of “Busy”

Stop the glorification of busy No matter how hold I get, September is always associated with ‘Back to School’. The move into Autumn symbolises a time when many of us feel we need to get our heads down and get back to work after the summer. And before we know it, our daily calendars are full to bursting (if they weren’t already, that is).

I have an admission. I don’t like being busy. I like to be productive, to be effective and actually get things done. But, busy? To me, it’s overrated. I’ve increasingly noticed that whenever I say that I am busy the response is usually “that’s good”. And for a long time that was my response too. But why is that?

We have more time-saving technology and services at our fingertips than at any other time in history, yet we all seem to be busier than ever. Some of us wear our Busyness like a badge of honour. But is there a problem here? Are we confusing busyness with effectiveness?

Yoga teachers are certainly not immune from this. In London, where I live and work I see exhausted, scheduled to the hilt yoga teachers regularly. And I have fallen into this routine before too. For every class or client you guide through their yoga practice, you are giving your energy. So, there’s no surprise really that if you don’t take steps to replenish, it’s just a matter of time until you’ll burn out. However you spend your days, whether you teach yoga, work in an office, are a stay-a-home parent or anything and everything in-between, we can all work to burnout. But whom is that serving? From the point of view of teaching yoga, it’s tough to give your best in this state.

The busier we are, the less time we have. Time is arguably our most valuable commodity and it’s irreplaceable. It’s a significant thing to lose.

I think it’s time to stop worshipping at the altar of busy. Being busy for busyness sake or to attain more ‘stuff’ isn’t all its cracked up to be. What if we took another look and scrutinised what we are actually busy with? Try it and you might find there are things you can take off your to-do lists and lighten your mood and improve your wellbeing at the same time. Give it a go and notice the relief this brings.

This was originally published in OM Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine. You can read a selection of my past columns and a FREE preview of the current issue of the magazine by clicking here.

Click here to learn more about The 365 Savasana Project.

This is not Lying Down – This is Savasana

This is not Lying Down – This is Savasana

Sava ~ corpse
Asana ~ pose

Click here to learn more about The 365 Savasana Project

If I suggested that you put your lengthy to-do list to one side and lie down for twenty minutes right now, what would your response be?

(I think I can hear you shouting that you are too busy from here!)

Supported Savasna - here I'm using pillows for the pose - it's easy to improvise with cushions and blankets too

Maybe it would feel lazy or indulgent when you have so much to do? But I invite you to look at your life and ask what you hold most dear. Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations we must meet. But busyness and meaning are not the same thing. It comes back to balance and being able to tune in to what your body needs.

During Savasana the parasympathetic nervous system is activated (the part of the autonomic nervous system in charge of your body’s rest and digest activities). Consequently, it is deeply nourishing and can have a regenerative effect on your entire system, far more replenishing than normal sleep.

If you find yourself feeling stressed, rushed off your feet or generally frazzled, this Supported Savasana is a good place to start. As well as helping to calm a busy mind it can make a real difference to sleep quality.

How do we get there?

In lieu of the yoga props you would find at a studio you can improvise with what you have to hand – pillows, blankets, cushions, the throw from your sofa….

(NB – I’m suggesting a version here that I find works very well, but what’s most important is that you feel comfortable, so adjust your props as much as you need to before you settle.)

Have a timer to hand that you can easily set to twenty minutes once you are settled into position.

– Create a comfortable space to lie down – if you have a yoga mat, place a blanket on top covering the surface of the mat for extra cushioning. If you don’t have a mat use extra blankets to create a thicker base
– Before you lie down, place a cushion or folded blanket for your head and neck to rest on
– Carefully, lie down on your back and place a thick rolled up blanket (or pillows / cushions under your knees). Allow your legs to relax and roll outwards.
– If you find that your heels do not touch the floor, take a rolled up bath towel (rolled onto a long ‘sausage’ shape) or cushions and place underneath your ankles for support
– Cover your eyes with an eye pillow or scarf
– Extend your arms out by your sides, palms facing up. Relax your hands – you will notice that your fingers will curl towards your palms.

From here, allow your body to be supported by the props and the ground beneath you. With each out breath visualise any remaining tension melting away. Just be here. See what happens. Notice if any resistance comes up to staying there.

If you find twenty minutes feels like it whizzes by then try thirty minutes, but if twenty minutes is way too challenging to begin with, then gradually work your way up. I’d suggest seeing if you can do this Savasana once a day for five to seven consecutive days OR you might like to try The 365 Savasana Project – click here for details. Judith Hanson Lasater, who I trained to teach Restorative Yoga with, jokes that restorative poses are magic, the magic being that they only work if you use them!

The main thing is to give it a try and to be kind to yourself along the way.

Restorative Yoga – A Perfect Summer Practice

Restorative Yoga – A Perfect Summer Practice

Supported Child's Pose - Paula Hines U Can Yoga

Here I'm demonstrating Supported Child's Pose

If you usually go for a dynamic yoga practice or tough training regime do you ever find that during the summer months you can come away feeling not as energised as you might at other times of year? If so, restorative yoga may be just the thing to add to your routine.

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.