By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
As the heightened activity of summer begins to quiet into the steady rhythm of the fall season, you may find that you are busier than ever! The fall is traditionally a time to begin a new school year, professional training program and/or new projects at work. In addition to the exhilaration of the crisp fall weather, new academic and professional training programs offer the excitement of learning new information and skills. However, these new endeavors also take time and energy.
With the waning days of sunlight and warmth in the temperate Northeast, many Yogis and Yoginis find themselves struggling to fit into their already busy schedules their new obligations while still finding time to enjoy the final month or two of warm weather. For example, I often find that I am rushing to go for a swim before the temperature falls when the autumnal sun dips below the horizon by 7pm! Or I find that I am rushing to spend some time at the beach before it is too cold to enjoy body surfing without a substantial wetsuit. The pressure to enjoy the final days of summer warmth can lend itself to higher levels of stress and anxiety.
As stress and anxiety levels increase, many Yoga practitioners find it difficult to fall to sleep and to sleep deeply and restoratively. As we all know from personal experience, if the quality of your sleep is optimal, you will awaken refreshed and ready for a full day ahead of you. Practicing Yoga on a regular basis will help you to release stress and lower your anxiety levels, so that you are able to sleep more restoratively. Additionally, there are specific Yoga poses that will help you to quiet your mind, release the busyness of the day and melt away tension.
* Supported Balasana or Child’s Pose
Supported Child’s Pose is a quintessential Yoga posture for easing into a restful sleep. This posture calms the mind as it relieves fatigue, stress and anxiety. Supported Balasana gently releases tension in the groin muscles, lower back and hips. It also relieves tension in the neck if it is practiced in a supported fashion. Additionally, Supported Child’s Pose calms down the flight or fight response that is often triggered by contending with the busyness of the day.
As your stress melts away, you will be more likely to sleep restfully, which will recharge your batteries for the day ahead of you. If you are pregnant or have a neck or knee injury, the practice of Supported Balasana should only be undertaken under the supervision of a certified Yoga instructor. Balasana can be practiced at any point during a Yoga class or as a stand-alone posture. Supported Balasana is often practiced just prior to Shavasana as part of a sequence of finishing poses at the end of a Yoga class.
To practice Child’s Pose in a supported fashion, you will need a Yoga bolster or a rolled blanket approximating the size of a bolster. If you are practicing Supported Child’s Pose as one of the final poses in your Yoga class or session, it is also comforting to put on a pair of warm socks, so that your feet don’t get cold. When you are ready to practice Supported Balasana, place the Yoga bolster or rolled blanket lengthwise on your mat. Kneel on your mat just behind the bolster with your knees comfortably far apart and the big toes of each foot gently touching each other.
With an exhale, drape you upper body over the bolster. Position yourself so that the bolster or blanket is supporting your entire torso and you are able to rest your head on the bolster. Place your arms on either side of the bolster with your palms flat on the floor just in front of the top of your head. If you find it difficult to rest on your heels, place a small folded towel or blanket between your calves and hamstrings for added support.
Feel the weight of your body resting on the earth. Melt into the bolster with each successive exhale. After a minute or two, turn your head the opposite direction in order to release tension in the other side of your neck. Rest in Supported Balasana for up to ten minutes. When you have completed your practice of Child’s Pose, with your next inhale gently sit up and remove the Yoga bolster or blanket. Pause for a moment or two to feel the tranquility in your own being before continuing on with the remainder of your Yoga practice.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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