It’s probably fair to say that “stress” is the most risky behavior that we Americans participate in on a regular basis. Knowing how to relax and let go of our tension is crucial to our health. There is a type of yoga that is especially good for relieving stress. Restorative Yoga is a form of movement that uses props to assist with holding poses so the body can completely relax. I recently attended a workshop on the subject and I want to share with you one of the most wonderful new practices I was introduced to. You have to try this yourself to appreciate how truly restorative it is for your body and mind. With the holidays coming along, this exercise is a great gift to give yourself! It will keep you centered, de-stressed and refreshed.

Gather up as many pillows as you can along with a blanket. Find a quiet place to lay down. Build up several pillows and arrange them to form a wedge shaped back rest to lay back on. Your upper body should be propped up into a semi-reclining position. Bend your knees slightly and put a rolled up blanket or towel under your knees supporting them completely. Next, place pillows under your arms, supporting them as well. Get yourself into the most possible comfortable position you can. If you have bean bags place them on the tops of your feet. Cover yourself with the blanket and tuck yourself in. The feeling should be one of being in a cocoon. Close your eyes. If you have eye covers gently rest them across your eyes. You can substitutes a soft washcloth for the eye covers. Focus your attention on your breath. Inhale through your nose, breathing into your belly area and filling it with air. Exhale through your mouth and let all the tension drain out of your body. Continue to relax your body and focus on your breathing. Let every care in the world drift away. Remain in this position for 10-15 minutes. You won’t believe how relaxed you feel after trying this exercise. If you are fortunate enough to have someone else who can tuck you into this very restorative pose, even better. There is something about being “tucked in” that makes you feel warm and supported.

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My holiday wish for you is that you find ways to relax and restore yourself! When you feel the stress coming on, take some time to decompress. Give yourself the gift of relaxation every day. Until we meet again, be well and happy and share your smile with the world.

Mary Ann Wilson

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