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 fatigue and overstimulation. As a result, I’d push through then out of gas completely. Now I know better: whether I’m sightseeing in a foreign city, meeting 1:1 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 restore my energy.
Restorative yoga poses—supported poses into which you can completely relax— are designed to do just that: to restore both your energy and your sense of calmness. My current favorite is a modified form of the pose popularly known and loved as “Legs Up the Wall” (or Viparita Karani, for you Sanskrit-speaking yogis out there.) And yes, I strongly prefer this to napping, because I have trouble falling asleep for just 20 or 30 minutes, and if I do sleep, I wake up feeling logey 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 (including frazzled ones) drain out of your head, just like the ice water runs out of a cooler when you release the drain plug.
In this 6-minute video I’ll show you specifics of how to set yourself up in the pose, and how to breathe in the pose for maximum benefit. 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.