When recovering from a cold or flu, some might experience a lingering headache even if they’re no longer feverish and bed-ridden. If so, a person might consider doing some simple stretches to help relax their tense muscles and align their physical and mental states while focusing on breathing. Restorative yoga can provide a truly relaxed and restful healing through a gentle practice of simple poses.
A while back in the evening, after having suffered from bad cold symptoms a few days prior, I still felt congested. I had a lot of tension in my muscles, as well as pains in my back and shoulders. A slow, quiet and meditative yoga practice was just what I needed to feel better. So I brewed some hot tea, lit scented candles and set up my yoga mat for a restorative session.
Little did I know that the rest of my family had sat down to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Semifinals. The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals were tied 3-3 in the series, and this could be the deciding game. This meant that it was not going to be easy to do meditating, relaxing and restorative yoga in a small apartment while the hockey announcers yelled, “Something, something puck in the air. That was a very good pass! So-and-so shot again, very aggressive!”
I considered giving up and just sitting on the couch to watch the game. But no, I wanted to practice yoga. I knew that it would make me feel better and speed up the healing process. To compromise, I decided to do my stretches with the TV on, while my family intensely rooted for the Rangers to advance.
Restorative yoga uses props to support the body for full relaxation, including cushions, straps, blocks, bolsters, eye pillows and blankets. When set up properly, the props make it possible to hold the poses longer, opening the body through passive stretching. With Child’s Pose, for example, a cushion or bolster is used under the entire upper body while you kneel on the mat and lean forward onto the cushion with your arms gently stretching forward or to the side. Long and deep breathing and the appropriate support help eliminate unnecessary straining, leading to a more healing and recuperative experience. It feels wonderful.
"yoga can be done anywhere and anytime..."
While some people think that yoga can only be done in a studio or at a meditative retreat, I believe that yoga can be done anywhere and anytime: an office, a public park, or even a busy airport. All of these places offer good opportunities for certain yoga stretches. But I have to admit, the combination of a relaxing restorative yoga session with a high-energy hockey game in the background turned out to be a unique experience.
At first, I tried to ignore the TV and focus only on the yoga practice - not an easy task. I couldn’t completely block out the cheers and sighs. In the first quarter, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored against the handsome NY goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist. I briefly interrupted my practice to watch, and then turned to my left side to repeat the yoga pose. At this point, the game was getting more intense, but I persisted with my yoga. In the second quarter, Kevin Hayes tied the game. “What a beautiful pass! Did you see that!”
With the game tied, I could take a deep, relaxing breath before switching to another wonderful pose: Legs Up the Wall, a classic restorative stretch. With support under my hips and my head tilted just the right way, I was even able to peek at the TV. By the end, I got skillful at switching my mind and body from a relaxed and restful state to an emotional cheer, all within seconds. Instead of completely ignoring the action on TV, I seamlessly incorporated it into part of my practice.
I ran out of poses to do before any team scored again, and then overtime started. At this point I sat on the couch, biting my nails. “Aggressive plays... icing... the intensity level high... battling in the corner.” Teeth lost, sticks broken and then: “GOAL! That’s it, the Rangers scored, they won the game!”
I felt so much better. It must have been the yoga. tj
The complete article can be found in Issue #277 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.