I can’t believe I made it through last week: I taught two classes and completed two major projects on top of my usual client sessions—in addition to making time to hang out with my daughter who is home from college. I’m definitely tired, but my fatigue level is completely manageable, and there’s a reason why: I took many brief restorative rests during the week.
The rejuvenating power of these rests reminded me how much I rely on them to maintain my sense of well-being in the midst of the demands of a busy life. So I decided to update and re-broadcast this article and video (first posted October 18, 2016) about my very favorite restorative pose. You may know the pose itself already. But even if you do, I recommend reading the article then watching the short video to make sure you’ve got all the subtle “tweaks”: I find these details make all the difference.
This weekend my partner and I took a day to “play” in the gorgeous fall weather. We hiked at a park near here, lined up with the crowd at a popular orchard to buy fresh doughnuts and apples, and drove further into the country to visit a beautiful arboretum where the dahlias are still in full bloom.
After five hours out and about, much of it in the sun, I noticed my energy dropping. My mental outlook shifted subtly but surely from, “We’re having an adventure!” to, “This feels a bit like an endurance contest…”
In the past, I used to ignore the onset of tis kind of fatigue and overstimulation. As a result, I’d push through, then run out of gas completely. Now I know better: whether I’m sightseeing in a foreign city, meeting for several hours in a row with clients, or just out playing with my partner, I can add hours more fun to my day (or evening) if I take a brief pause to rest. Just 15 minutes is enough to do the trick.
Restorative yoga poses—supported poses into which you can completely relax— are the most rapid, powerful way I’ve found to restore both my energy and my serenity. My current favorite is a modified form of the pose popularly known as “Legs Up the Wall” (or Viparita Karani, for you Sanskrit-speaking yogis out there.) I strongly prefer this pose to napping, for two reasons: I have trouble falling asleep for just 15 minutes, and on the rare occasions I do fall asleep, I wake up feeling logy and disoriented.
In this version of “Legs Up The Wall,” your calves rest on a bed or couch, which allows you to stay longer if needed. Yet you will still get the benefits of an inverted pose: a change in point of view (literally!), and a sensation I call “brain drain” as your thoughts drain out of your head, much like the ice melt runs out of a cooler when you release the drain plug.
In today’s video I’ll show you specifics of how to set yourself up in the pose. Then, most important of all, I’ll demonstrate in detail how to use your breathing to get the most possible benefit from the pose.
Everything you need should be handy in a typical house or hotel room:
- A couch or bed
- A blanket or pad (to go under you if the floor has no rug)
- A pillow for your head and neck
- A blanket or coat to cover you, and socks if your feet might get cold
- Something to cover your eyes so no light comes in: an eye bag is best as the weight is soothing, but you can use a folded washcloth or T-shirt in a pinch
- A reliable way to wake up so you can relax knowing you won’t miss your next scheduled event. I use a timer. Don’t use your phone if there is the slightest chance it will buzz during your rest time.
One last thing: set yourself up with care. Turn your phone off and make sure you won’t be interrupted. If you can darken the room you are in, do so. And leave time to come out of the pose slowly. This pose will slow you way down and if you leap up and plunge back into your day without a few minutes’ transition time, you’ll jolt your system and erase many of the benefits.