Therapeutic Yoga Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 10

Restore and Relieve Tension

30 min - Practice


Cheri, with the help of Tina, guides us in a practice designed to relieve stress and tension with fluid spinal movements, as well as a deep restorative twist and gentle supported inversion. The practice will allow energy to flow more freely and result in a sense of ease.
What You'll Need: Mat, Eye PIllow, Square Bolster, Blanket (3), Strap

About This Video


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(waves crashing) Namaste, good to see you, thanks for coming back. This is Tina and Tina will be assisting me today in demonstrating the poses for a shorter practice but a nice practice for relieving tension in the body and helping the energy to flow more freely. For this practice you will need one bolster, an eye pillow, three blankets and a strap for this one. Also if you like using aromatherapy you may want to take your aromatherapy and kind of place it near where your head will be for the practice. And we'll start by just checking in with the body.

Start with a moment of connection before you move into the actual poses. So you can either rest your hands on your legs or you can place your hands on your body, whatever feels the best to you, and taking a few moments to feel into the very top of the head and scanning down and through the inner landscapes of your body and noticing in this moment how you're feeling. And as you become aware of any tight or tender places, just making note of those areas and hopefully through the movements, through the breathing you can address them in your practice today. Allow your breath to gently deepen and feel free to sweep the breath now through any of the areas that are holding tension, the breath like a breeze awakening the flow of prana, of chi or energy within you. And you'll stay with that nice, deep breath as we'll move into a little gentle yoga, some warming yoga and so you'll take one of your blankets now and you'll place it for some softness for your knees on the middle of your mat and you'll also take your strap we're gonna prepare for some of the poses that we'll be doing later.

You'll take your strap and you'll place it on the middle of, or actually the top part of your mat and then you'll take your bolster and you'll place it right here. You'll come onto all fours, so you can, the knees will be placed right on top of the top edge of the blanket, that's it. And depending on what's comfortable for you, some people like to have the bolster under them, some people prefer not to. You can always scoot it forward if that feels better for you. We're gonna start with Tibetan hip circles and you'll take your hands actually forward of your shoulders.

So a little different than cat cow, the arms are up higher, your knees can be hip-width apart or closer or wider. Just see what feels the best for you and you'll begin to draw a circle with your pelvis. So the circle goes as small or as large as feels good, the circumference that you're drawing here and feel into this movement. You can let your hips come forward if that feels good and around. You can do this slow or fast, depends on what you're needing in this moment.

Sometimes if it's really cold I'll do this a little quicker to kind of warm up and if I want to do it slower, just more as a meditative movement. So feeling into where you're tight. It can also be nice to stop along the way in a really tense area and just stretch it out and then continue. So feel those areas that are maybe calling for a little more opening and breathing into the movements. This can be nice to do with your eyes closed and this is a pose that helps to open the second chakra of the body.

So if there's blockage there, if there's holding patterns there, this can be a really nice movement. It's also great for the hips and the hip joints, it lubricates the joints. And then you'll come back through center and you'll go the other way. So feel the circle, maybe the circumference is broadening a bit if that feels good to you. Breathing deeply and enjoying the feeling from within.

It's a very central movement, a movement that really connects us to the element of water that's in the second chakra, that fluidity flowing with and it also is quite good I find for getting the energy moving through the chakras. Circular movements can help that. And you can take as much time as you like moving through this movement and when you're done, you'll come back through center. We're gonna do a few more circles here and then you'll, when you find your hips are back into neutral you can slide your hands back under your shoulders and then you'll walk your knees all the way to the left corner of your bolster and sit side-saddle. But you want your shins on the bolster so you'll scoot back towards me a little bit.

So you want your shins and your thigh on the bolster and the bolster now moves to the right towards your right hip and if you have a little bit of a belly, it's better to bring it up a little bit so it's just under your chest and your head. But you can position it so it feels right for you. The reason we bring it to the right is so it's in alignment with the spine and then a couple things I want to just remind you of. One is if you have any sacral issues like SI instability you can take an additional blanket and place it between your knees, your ankles and your shins and then stack the knees one on top of the other and that can be really nice for not twisting too deeply into the sacral region. Some people love this anyway but if you want a deeper twist you can remove the blanket and slide your left knee back into the inner arch of your right foot and this is gonna make it deeper and you want this leg parallel with that blanket edge, that top blanket edge.

Then as you inhale you'll lengthen your spine and as you exhale you'll move your head away from your tailbone stretching forward and then as you come down, your right cheek can rest on the bolster. If you feel cool at all you can always place a blanket over you to keep you warm here if it's cool where your practice is and then also just being watchful that you're not propped up on your forearms. You can walk your forearms out but don't take the arms up too high so this can open the front chest. And then begin to soften your left shoulder down into the earth and as your left shoulder rotates down and releases, this will naturally take the spine into a twist, ringing out the paraspinal muscles and allowing any tension in that area to release. You can take a few deep breaths and with each exhalation, let yourself relax even more deeply into the bolster and the bolster will be the lowest variation although you could definitely do this with a blanket or a pillow.

I sometimes at home I'll put a nice, big bed pillow on top of my bolster and then it just feels even softer. So these are some options too in your practices at home which makes it so nice with yoga, anytime that you can add these additional cushiony props, throw pillows and all kinds of things to give you an even deeper sense of softness and support in some of these restorative poses. Then noticing what you feel as you sink into the support under the chest. That feeling of being held is so relaxing, so calming to the nervous system. So feeling the quality of the energy in your body as it grounds and as it becomes very soft and receptive.

And as you're here you can just rest. Once you take the shape of the restorative posture, it gives you the gift as you relax into it. So there's nothing you need to do, you can just be here and enjoy the benefits of the deep relaxation, the clearing of stress and the opening of the body and release of tension. Taking a few deep breaths now. Preparing to change sides.

You'll slide your hands under your shoulders and you'll slowly roll up, keeping your head heavy. So your head's the last thing to come up and then before you change sides just move the bolster all the way to that left side of the mat and then turn to your left, a little half-turn, knees towards the chest and then turn one more half-turn to the left and you'll find your knees in position on the other side. Now as you come into this side, see if you can bring your feet into the same position and if you had the blanket between the legs then you'll want to re-position that on this side, creating homeostasis and balance for the body. And then one hand to either side of the bolster and as you inhale you'll lengthen, as you exhale you'll come down turning your head to the right. Left cheek resting now and again first thing to think about too is that you're not propped up on your forearms.

You'll walk your arms out so that your shoulders can relax and sometimes you'll feel it because it'll push the shoulder blades up. The leg, you'll have that leg brought in just to the right position so it's a nice angled position and that'll give you a little deeper stretch. This is the deeper variation certainly for the twist. If it's too much on one side or you have one side that's not feeling comfortable, you can always prop it if you need to and then let your right shoulder soften down. Let it relax into the pull of gravity and as it relaxes, it'll naturally take you deeper into the twist.

And little by little with each exhalation, feel as if gravity is inviting you to sink into this gentle embrace and feel the bolster as it holds you. Let go of your day, what's ahead of you or behind you if you've already experienced your day and just feel this moment. Feel the quality of the sensations within you, allowing the practice itself to become a meditation and as you focus on the breath or the quality of sensation within, this helps to focus the mind making it a very mindful practice. For those of you that have a meditation, a seated meditation practice, these can also be great poses to do before your meditation to release the spine or after so that you can sit with more ease. There's lots of beautiful practices to prepare for meditation.

Yin yoga and restorative are quite lovely for that. And then allowing for a quieting in your organs, in the inner body, everything relaxing and sinking down and feeling the support. You can go as deeply into that support as you like and it's holding you. And resting and restoring here. Taking a few slow, deep breaths and when you're feeling ready to transition you can slide your hands under your shoulders.

Slowly come up and as you come up, you'll use the blanket that you've been sitting on. So you'll come off of it for just a moment to fold in half and wherever it is most easy to kinda scoot to and I like to put it under the bolster for a little bit more height here. But I like the bolster on top because it's a little wider and it holds the legs for this next pose. Then you'll take one blanket where your head will be and your head's actually gonna be at this end, so you'll put a blanket down flat and then you'll extend your legs up and onto the top of the bolster and blanket combination. Now you want to scoot back so the top corner or edge of the bolster, or you can always scoot it forward a little bit, is right at the crease of your knees so it's holding your legs and then you'll take the strap and you'll bring it together and you'll put it through and then back around and you'll tighten that strap.

And the strap helps to keep the legs together so they don't fall off. Now if you're one of those people who doesn't feel comfortable with a strap, we're gonna bring it right around the kinda mid-calf area. So if for any reason it causes a feeling of claustrophobia or discomfort, you're welcome to take your third blanket instead of the strap and wrap it around your legs. That's another nice choice in case it's not comfortable for you and then when you come down slowly, chin tucking towards the chest and rolling back and then you can make a small roll with your neck. It's always good to put your eye pillow on your thigh so you've come back you know where it is.

You can place your eye pillow over your eyes and making that neck roll just right, adjusting it or folding it or whatever feels the best to you. You can use a pillow here if that feels comfortable. If you're using aromatherapy, now is a good time to dose yourself and rub your hands together or if you're not doing aromatherapy you can rub your hands together, you can also do some palming. So feeling the place where your body maybe needs some energy or healing and you can take your hands there. So it can be nice to bring the hands to those areas for you that hold tension and breath the warmth of your hands in and you can also do some massage.

So there's lots of wonderful areas to massage. I invite you to tune into your body, so wherever it is that you need that massage today and go ahead and start to spend a little time anointing yourself or massaging the areas that need support or release. The face and jaw are always a good place, especially if you're experiencing a lot of stress in your life. There's a nerve here that's directly connected to the fight-or-flight response and then there's also the vagus nerve which runs through this area and it's, the vagal tone is enhanced when we massage it and that turns off the fight-or-flight response. So it can be great to work with the ears and there's many, many points in the ears that go to different acupuncture points in the body.

The ears are often worked with for anxiety or trauma as well, so they're helpful for that too. If you think you might get cool, a blanket over you ahead of time is a good choice. And you'll notice with the legs elevated that it's a beautiful release here for the low back as you rest in this pose, so allowing yourself to feel the support holding you as your legs are slightly internally rotated. It definitely releases the need to hold your own muscles into position and you can relax your legs fully into the support. I'm feeling as if there's an energy now flowing from the soles of the feet and washing gently upward and through your inner body flowing out through the top of your head and you can imagine that energy as you inhale, that you're drawing it through the soles of the feet, it's flowing through you.

And you may find it beneficial to choose an imagery here that feels good to you. Perhaps a flow of cool, soothing water if you tend to feel heated or inflamed. If you're feeling cold or you have stagnant conditions of energy, pain in the body, imagine a warm soothing water or perhaps an element of nature, the warmth of the sun or something that feels good to you. So feel free to take a few moments to let that image arise and then imagine that it's flowing from the soles of your feet through you, bathing everything it touches and then gently washing out through the top of your head. Feel that continual flow of positive energy moving through your inner body, washing through you, supporting you in all ways.

Floating peacefully, feeling safe and relaxed. Allowing your breath now to gently deepen, feeling the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen with each breath. And then as you're ready to release your legs, you're just gonna slide one leg out at a time and then reach under the blanket and take ahold of either the tops of the knees or backs of the thighs, draw the knees in and give your back a nice, deep stretch. Good. And you can also rock if you'd like from side to side.

And then drawing both knees towards your chest a little higher and then slowly rolling into a little cocoon on your side. So you want to pull in nice and tight and as you're here, returning back in your mind to just the beginning of your practice and checking as you scanned from the top of your head to the soles of your feet and noticed places of tension, just feel into those areas now and notice if there's been a change in what you feel in those places. Take a nice, deep breath and you can slowly make your way to a seated position and you can either sit up on your folded blanket that was under your head or you can sit back up on your bolster if you'd like. And sitting up nice and tall, feel the heart lifting, crown of the head floating upward. The hands moving into Anjali Mudra, the heart.



Every class Cheri teaches has a profound affect on me. Not only did my mom pass away, I sent my son to college and now face difficult spinal problems. I take every one of these restorative classes and instantly feel better. I am looking forward to the next session. Thanks so much.
Dear Judy, I'm so touched to hear all that you have been through and that my classes are supporting you through this difficult time. I trust that yoga will help you as you heal and grieve. Sending much love and peace your way. xoxo
This class was truly relaxing.  I felt so calm and peaceful after the practice.  I will be doing this again.
Hello Roslyn, Thank you for your note. I'm so glad you were able to relax and feel calm after taking this class. Wishing you continued peace, rest and renewal with these practices. Much love xoxo

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