Guest post by Amber Blanford of Joyful Spaces
Record breaking heat across the U.S and world this month has established a need to cool down quickly. Sometimes it’s just not enough to walk into an air-conditioned room or drink a chilled herbal tea after you’ve been working or running afternoon errands. Thankfully, common items found in your living room combined with comfortable yogic asanas (poses) can help you to reduce your own overheating and encourage deep relaxation. Pillows, blankets, and even thick books (show me those Encyclopedias from the 80’s & 90’s!) can be used as props to provide support in this endeavor.
In addition to reducing chronic pain and migraines, practicing yoga can also cool the body when it is too hot. Incorporate an afternoon or early evening restorative yoga practice, which is beginner friendly and does not require one to be flexible to cool down efficiently. Seated or standing forward folds and lying down with feet elevated can reduce the body’s heat. Move slower and closer to the ground to be most effective.
What is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga incorporates gentle floor-based sequences using bolsters, blankets, and props that support the practitioner to deeply relax the body, still the mind, improve capacity for healing, and bring awareness to the breath. It enables deep relaxation as you hold poses for longer periods of time with the help of props to completely support you. This allows the body to reset and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which directs resting, digesting, and healing. When you practice, allow yourself to wiggle, move, and shift your body until you feel completely at ease. There should be no areas of pain or discomfort in the body in any restorative pose. Unlike yin yoga, restorative yoga does not require to work towards an edge to release deep layers of fascia.
Enhance Your Experience
Here are some props to make the practice more comfortable:
Bolster, couch cushion, or pillows
Blocks or sturdy books
Eye pillow or cloth
Calming music (nature sounds, singing bowls, spa music)
Incense or essential oils (peppermint, lavender, or eucalyptus)
Gather all the props you may need before starting your practice. Bring an extra pillow or blanket just in case. Set the relaxing tone with music and calming scents and prepare for your poses.
LEGS UP THE WALL
Blanket or pillow, eye pillow (optional)
How to Get into It
Find a blank wall and sit on the floor facing the wall. Scoot your hips as close to the wall as possible. Then, extend your legs out long on the wall. Place a blanket or pillow under your head and the optional eye pillow over your eyes.
You can opt to place your bent legs on the couch or bolster while your torso remains on the floor.
SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)
2 Blocks, books or pillows, eye pillow (optional)
How to Get into It
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet touching each other and your knees bent. Your legs will make a diamond shape. Place one block, book, or pillow under each knee. Then, use your hands on the floor to guide you as you slowly come down to your back. You may choose to use an additional pillow or blanket as a cushion under your head.
Remain seated with the soles of your feet touching and hold your feet with your hands. Inhale as you lengthen your spine and exhale fold forward over your bent legs.
PASCHIMOTTANASANA (Seated Forward Fold)
Bolster or cushion, pillows
How to Get into It
Sit up nice and tall on the floor with your spine in alignment. Spread your legs apart so that you can place a parallel bolster or cushion between your legs on the floor. Stack as many cushions or pillows between your legs of you as you desire. Inhale and lengthen your spine; then, exhale and lean forward onto your cushion or pillows. Find a comfortable position, adjusting the number of props as needed.
Remove one pillow or cushion to experience a deeper stretch.
Deepen Your Breath
Pranayama or the fluctuation of Life Force Energy gives the mind a focus and allows for better concentration during yoga. One easy way to tune into this energy is to connect with your breathing. Once you’ve settled into a pose, bring awareness to your breath. Exhale longer than the inhale to soothe the body and move it into a state of relaxation. Try this:
Inhale to the count of 3 or 4.
Exhale to the count of 5 or 6.
As the body starts to relax, a deeper breath might be available. If that happens, try to
Inhale to the count of 5 or 6.
Exhale to the count of 7 or 8.
Find a rhythm that’s comfortable and can be sustained for several minutes. Avoid forcing the breath.
Restorative Yoga is a very relaxing practice that can bring you a sense of calm and peace in the midst of irritably hot weather. Try out these poses to stay cool on these extremely hot days. If you find they help you, share them with a friend!
Want to learn more about cooling down through yoga or activating your space to soothe your soul. Join Amber's newsletter and attend her classes through joyfulspaces.org.
“Deep breathing gets you from a state of fight-or-flight and moves you into a state of restoration — kind of the same state you’re in when you sleep. Whatever you want to do, if you can do it from a calm, peaceful place, you’ll get there sooner.” -Amber Blandford
About Amber Blandford and her company, Joyful Spaces
In 2016, Amber founded Joyful Spaces, LLC to help individuals align their space and soul through professional organizing and intuitive guidance. Amber’s teaching approach is intuitive and clear, focused on wellness and healing for her students. She creates an environment inspiring people to live more freely, allowing her students to release that which no longer serves.
Amber Blandford is an Intuitive Guide, registered yoga teacher (RYT-200), Trauma-Sensitive HeartMath® Certified Practitioner, and Certified Virtual Organized Professional. She has practiced yoga for 25 years and completed Yoga Teacher Training at Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, NC. She holds a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) and a Master of Arts in Ministry in Multicultural Church (MAMC) from the Franciscan School of Theology and is a Golden Circle member of the National Association of Productivity and Organized Professionals (NAPO). Most recently, Amber’s work was featured in Better Homes and Gardens, and she was named one of Shodaland’s JoyMakers.
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Decluttering, Blandford has discovered, is not about an end point. It’s a starting line for how you want to live. “If you think of a box that’s really, really full,” Blandford says, “it’s like, ‘How can I put joy in here?’ You can’t. It’s too full. Let’s take some things out. Then, you have room for joy to come in. You have to make space to bring in what you want.”