Power Down Your Day
You may already know that I come from a background of corporate stress-mania. I worked regular 10+ hour days and gave my heart and soul to my job, which I loved with a passion. When I took a rare holiday, I would sleep like it was my life’s purpose, until I finally restored myself and climbed back into the ring, ready for the next round.
I’ve always been like this. I was one of those people who got right down to ’empty’ before I filled up the car, never quite sure whether or not I’d make it to the petrol station. I’d run out of shampoo and have to go rummaging around for travel bottles left over from trips, and at the end of the month, my bank account was invariable empty.
When this becomes your normal cycle, it’s a really hard pattern to break, and it was a long time before I finally figured it out – now I make it my habit to top up the energetic tank well before the light starts flashing, and I’m healthier and happier for it.
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
One of the most mind-blowingly simple things I’ve learned to do for myself is to power down my system at the end of my working day. Down regulating the nervous system in this way changes the whole picture. It can reduce anxiety, improve digestion, and will often ease you into a deep and peaceful sleep.
I rely on the components of my end-of-day routine to bring me back to balance, and from the yoga-sphere, my all time favourite go-to pose is undoubtedly the restorative version of viparita karani. It’s super simple, highly effective and always at the top of my list. This one simple posture can serve you better than you can possibly imagine.
The Bolster (optional)
I love a bolster, but if you don’t have one, don’t despair, all is not lost, you know I’m the queen of the work-around. Just stack a couple of pillows, and/or thick (non-slidey) towels or blankets near the wall instead.
If you’re pretty flexible in your low/mid back you can add a bit of height. If you’re a little on the stiffer side, keep it lower.
Leave a little gap between your bolster and your wall so that you sort of drape your butt over the edge a little. If you have super-tight hamstrings, just move the bolster further away.
The Belt (optional)
Suddenly I feel like a prop-fanatic… but this does make all the difference for me.
I find that my legs tend to fall outwards, bend, peel off the wall, and generally fail to cooperate. The belt just keeps them where I want them, so I can totally relax. Simple.
You can replace a yoga belt with any other kind of belt, or just not use one at all. See what works for you.
STEP ONE: Getting In
Not immediately obvious, and there’s definitely a knack to it! Sit sideways to the wall, on one end of your bolster if you’re using one. Lean back and rotate at the same time, swinging your legs up and (lightly) lowering your head and shoulders down. You’ll get the hang of it… in the beginning probably don’t practice near mirrors or valuable works of art.
STEP TWO: Getting Out
Go back the way you came! Bend your knees and (slowly) tip to one side. You’ll end up on the floor … promise.
Beyond the basics, the pose is your own. Add an eye pillow, a blanket, a puppy?
Whatever you decide, try just 5 minutes with this and notice how you feel before and after. Leave a comment below and let me know what works for you. I’d love to hear your adaptations!