Have you ever fallen asleep in corpse pose (Savasana)? If you have, it’s not a bad thing, it just means you really, really needed the rest.
How often do you give yourself permission to rest in your practice? It’s so easy to fall into the mindset that “more is more,” when sometimes what our body, mind, and spirit really need to do is less.
One of my favourite ways to add rest to my practice is to unwind in passive, prop-supported sequences like this one.
Using Blocks to Unwind and Unlock Tension
1. To begin, set up your blocks. One block will support the upper back (about mid-rib cage), and the other block will support back of the head. (You can always adjust them once you lie down.)
Note: Start gently, with the blocks as low as they can go. You can always stack them higher if you want more opening once you’ve settled in.
2. Before lying back on the blocks, lift your hips up an inch, and roll your buttocks under to lengthen your lower back.
3. Open your chest and lie back on the blocks with one block under the mid-back and the other supporting your head.
4. Once you’re settled, check in on your head position. Your neck should feel comfortable, and your forehead and chin should be at the same height. If you need to add extra height, a folded blanket on top of the block works well.
5. Once your body has settled into the pose, focus on your breathing. Practice opening your chest from the inside, with slow, steady, even inhalations and exhalations.
6. If it feels right, try some of these variations:
Head Position Variations
If you have no neck issues, you may try tipping your head block one level lower, laying the head back down gently to lengthen the front of the neck.
Leg Position Variations
You can lie over the blocks with crossed shins (Sukasana), soles of the feet together and knees apart (Baddha Konasana), with straight legs (Dandasana), or with knees bent and feet on the floor hips width apart. Make sure your lower back feels long, not hard or compressed.
Arm Position Variations
The arms can relax below the level of the shoulders a few inches away from the body like in corpse pose (Savasana). For a slightly more active pose try crossing your forearms and reaching your elbows overhead in line with your ears to lengthen the sides of your waist.
7. When you feel ready to come out of the pose, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor, clasp your hands behind your head, tuck your chin slightly, and roll off the blocks to the right side, catching yourself with your left hand.
Rest for a few moments, supporting your head with your right arm. When you’re ready, press your hands down to sit up. Sit quietly for a few breaths and observe your state.
Meghan Goodman is a yoga instructor and professional dance artist who can sometimes be seen dancing on the side of tall buildings. She has been teaching since 2006, and is currently completing a certification in Iyengar yoga under the guidance of training teacher Louie Ettling. For more information on classes, performances, to book a workshop or private session, please visit www.meghangoodman.wordpress.com