It is the middle of summer here in the Rockies- where it feels like if you blink it will be over. So we have spending our time playing outside, riding bikes, enjoying the wildflowers, and lots of meandering walks along the river going at the leisurely pace of a 3 year old. While all this outside, summertime fun is wonderful, it is still important to find time to pause and rest our body and mind, even if it is for 5 minutes. Which brings us to our new regular series: Less is More. It is one of my favourite mantras. And in yoga it can be one that is easy to forget as we seem to be conditioned to work harder, get more flexible, strong or checking off a list of poses to achieve. Yet in my experience, it is the little things that count the most.
From an alignment point of view, less is more by spending time reawakening those underused parts of the body like the adductors (inner thighs), feet, glutes etc, which will make a big difference in the long-term rather than forcing our bodies into poses that may look good on the outside but may be hurting our joints or muscles or simply reinforcing unhealthy postural habits.
On the other side of less is more, is our culture's need to be on the go and always be 'doing'. I'm a big fan of practices like restorative yoga that will put our body into a position such as a back bend but using props to do the work. This means we can stay in the shape of a backbend for longer and receive double the benefit of a back bend- opening the chest and shoulders and the incredible benefit of stillness and quiet.
Today's Less is More is one of my favourite restorative pose: Supported Child's Pose. (with weight) Or what I call, The Big Hug.
Bolster (blocks and blanket if you are feeling stiff or tight.)
Sandbag or 5- 10 pound bag of rice.
Getting into the pose:
Open your knee's wider than hip width. Place the bolster in between the knees so that when you lay onto the bolster your chest and stomach will be supported by it.
Rest your torso onto the bolster. Let your head turn to one side with the chin slightly tucked in. You can stay like this or add what will turn it into The Big Hug... a sandbag on your low back. In the photo I am using a 10 pound bag of rice. If you happen to have two sandbags (or rice bags) then place another on your upper to mid-back. Stay here anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes while periodically turning your head in the other direction for balance.
The weight of the sandbags gives gentle pressure and feedback to the body to relax. Where the hug feeling comes in is that the gentle weight of the sandbag on the back and the support of the bolster on the front creates this very grounding and nurturing feeling. You are supported from all sides!
If you have lower back issues, omit the sandbags if it makes your back feel worse. If one bolster feels too low for your knees or hips, then place some yoga blocks or even couch cushions underneath to lift the bolster so that you don't have to fold down quite as deep. Remember, less is more!
And if you happen to have a small child hanging around, they make really great sandbags as well!