This is one of the restorative poses we regularly practice during the second half of SLOW FLOW YOGA – Mondays 6.30-7.30pm reCentre Health in Balham.
In this short video filmed at reCentre I show you how to do this restorative inversion with the aid of a bolster and a yoga belt. Here, the sacrum (directly below the lumbar spine) is supported by a bolster (or you can use cushions or a sturdy yoga block if you don’t have access to a bolster). Just a few of the benefits of Supported Bridge Pose can include:
– Helps to relieve stress and low moods
– Helps to calm the nervous system (activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is in charge of the body’s ‘rest and digest’ activities)
– Can help to reduce fatigue
– Stretches the spine from the shoulders all the way to the tailbone
– Can help to relieve lower back pain
– Stretches and opens the chest
Start by sitting on the bolster and place a looped belt around your lower legs. With knees bent and soles of both feet on the floor, place your hands on the floor behind you, lift your hips and slide them forward so that you can rest your sacrum (the flat bony place just below your lower back curve) onto the bolster. Then using your hands ease yourself back onto the floor so that you are in a Supported Bridge position. Allow your arms and hands to rest where they feel most comfortable – you may wish to rest arms by your side, or rest hands on your lower abdomen or reach arms back to the floor behind you as I am doing in this video.
To transition into Supported Shoulderstand, lift your feet into the air. This can be a nice alternative to Legs Up the Wall if you do not have access to wall space.
Rest here for up to five minutes or for as long as you feel comfortable.
Fancy practising this is class? Join us for Slow Flow Yoga – Mondays 6.30-7.30pm at reCentre Health, Balham.
This version of Eye of the Needle is great if you have trouble keeping your head and shoulders on the ground in the usual version, if you have any concerns with your knees or find Swan, Shoelace or Square Pose difficult to get in to. Or, simply if you are feeling a lower in energy.
Sit with one hip alongside the wall then swing your legs up the wall.
From here, place your right ankle to the top of your left thigh then slide your left foot down the wall with the lower back and sacrum remaining on the ground (you can slide hips a bit further away from the wall to facilitate this if necessary). This pose can feel quite intense around the hips and glutes in particular. You might also feel a stretch into the lower back or on the inside of the right thigh. Sliding your left foot further up the wall will lessen the intensity, while sliding the left foot further down can increase the intensity, so do adjust the position of your left foot on the wall accordingly.
You also have the option to gently press your right thigh towards the wall with your right hand.
The external rotation of the right hip can help stimulate the gallbladder meridian which runs down the side of the body along the outer hip. The liver meridian which runs along the inside of the leg, through the groin and up into the torso can also be stimulated here.
Aim to stay here for 1-3 mins if you are a beginner or 3-5 mins if you are more experienced. Repeat on the left left side.
You can watch a video where I show you other variations of Eye of the Needle here.
In this video filmed at Embody Wellness, I show you my favourite variation of Swan Pose to teach (and in my own practice to do post-run or after a lot of sitting).
Swan is a deep hip opener with strong external rotation of the front hip, as well as a good stretch for the hip flexors and quads of the back leg. Sitting upright in Swan also a backbend.
The meridians targeted are the liver, kidney, spleen, stomach, urinary bladder and gall bladder.
Using a bolster, as I’m showing here can help make Swan pose more accessible, especially if you have knee issues. If your hips feel particularly tight, keep your legs in a zig-zag shape (the position I am sitting in before I extend my back leg straight behind me into full Swan). This zig-zag shape can also make it even kinder on the knees. NB – Ensure your knees are NOT complaining – if your knees are still not happy in this pose you can practise Eye of the Needle pose instead.
If transitioning to Sleeping Swan you can come onto forearms or rest your forehead on a yoga block, as I show you here.
Stay for 3-5 minutes on each side (or 1-3 minutes if you are a beginner).
This version of Swan is a yin yoga posture we regularly practise during Flow & Restore – Sundays 6-7.15pm at Embody Wellness in Vauxhall.
This Kundalini practice is calming and meditative and a lovely way to mobilise the spine. In this video, filmed at reCentre Health in Balham, I show you how to practice Sufi Grinding.
1. Sit in easy pose and place your hands on your knees. (NB – this can also be practised seated on a chair.)
2. As you inhale, bring your upper body forward and as you exhale, circle your upper body to the right and all the way round in a circle – make your circles as small or large as feels best your you.
3. Keep a nice even breath continuing to inhale forwards and exhale round in your upper body circles to the right for several breaths (1-3 minutes)
4. Change direction, circling to the left following the same breathing pattern (again for 1-3 minutes)
Join me at reCentre Health on Mondays for Slow Flow Yoga 6.30-7.30pm. This class is a mix of slow flowing active postures and floor-based passive restorative yoga. Come along and unwind from your day.
Nadi – ‘channel’ or ‘flow’
Shodhana – ‘purification’
Alternate Nostril Breathing is a simple yet effective pranayama (breathing) practice. Soothing for the nervous system, alternate nostril breathing is said to help relieve stress and anxiety and lower the heart rate among other benefits. It is also helpful to practice before bedtime if you have difficulty getting to sleep.
If my head feels all over the place (often if I’ve been trying to do too many things at once!) I find this practice helpful to calm my mind. You can also practise *Mental Alternate Nostril breathing (i.e. not using your hands).
Usually this is practiced with breath retention, but you can choose to focus on just the inhales and exhales through each nostril instead.
How to practice Alternate Nostril Breathing (NB – the instructions below are without breath retention):
- Sit comfortably with a tall spine
- Rest your left hand comfortably on your left knee (as pictured) or lap
- Place your right index and middle fingers lightly between your eyebrows. You will be using your right thumb and right ring finger to open and close the nostrils.
- With eyes closed or gaze softened to one spot, take a deep breath in and out through both nostrils (you can take a few deep breaths here).
- Softly close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale slowly and steadily through your left nostril.
- Close your left nostril (with your right ring finger) and release closure of your right nostril. Exhale slowly and steadily through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril.
- Close your right nostril (with your right thumb) and release closure of your left. Exhale through your left nostril.
This completes 1 round. Repeat this for 5-10 rounds, focussing on your inhales and exhales. When you are finished. Rest both arms and breathe in and out normally for a few breaths.
*NB – I have a recorded a Mental Alternate Nostril Breathing audio to guide you through your practice, available here.