The final installment of my “Around the World” series brings us to the spine! During my 200 hour Teacher Training I had my first experience with restorative yoga and… I was not a fan. I had only practiced strong Flow up until that point and enjoyed an exhausted Savasana where I had no choice but to relax. So when presented with several poses over the course of a few hours that all felt like Savasana, I was going out of my mind. It took a few years of teaching yoga to mature enough to enjoy a restorative practice. For me it was an acquired taste, like dark chocolate - which I couldn’t appreciate when I was younger, and now it’s a much appreciated treat. Now, restorative yoga is one of the mainstays in my practice and my teaching. One of the tenets of restorative yoga is to move the spine passively in every direction, of which there are six: back-bending, forward folding, side-bending right and left and twisting right and left. Since the spine houses a crucial part of the nervous system, the spinal cord, these poses are not just useful muscularly to keep the body happy and healthy they can also help to keep your inner workings running smoothly as well. The following poses not only move the spine in every direction, but they do so passively, which allows for the muscles to relax into each shape which also gives your nervous system a boost by stimulating the relaxation response, which can help bolster your immune system, digestion, sleep patterns and overall sense of well-being.
Quick note: While not pictured, a blanket (or several) can make a world of difference in many of these poses. I've listed some ways to use blankets below, but when in doubt, if something doesn't feel quite right - add a blanket!