We are at the darkest point of the year. When we look outside, there is a bleakness that translates to a lack of energy. Though we may not want to, or feel we have time to acknowledge it, the depletion of earth energy is part of the natural human rhythm as well. Welcome the Winter Solstice! Recognizing that we are part of this cycle means giving ourselves permission to attune to the silence and stillness of the earth. It may be as simple as taking moments throughout the day to exhale longer and slower; the exhalation of the breath contracts us into our inner radiance and peace. Meditation can also help to relieve stress, which in turn strengthens our immune system. If you are new to yoga or have an active yoga practice, try some restorative poses at home. (Scroll down to learn about restorative shoulder stand pose.)
As we reach the Winter Solstice on December 21, the light returns providing us with a vortex of energy to breathe in and expand. Move into the fullness of YOUR light and enjoy the Holiday Season!
OM Shanti, Megan
Holiday Pose Pick:
Supported Shoulder Stand
Restorative inversions are particularly relaxing with supported shoulder stand (Viparita Karani) being a favorite due to its adaptability. All you need is a wall, headboard or even a chair to place the legs on. The yoga bolsters under the sacrum in the photo can easily be replaced with bed pillows and/or folded blankets.
Some of the benefits of supported shoulder stand include:
- Aids in return of the blood to the lungs for oxygenation by raising the feet, legs and pelvis higher than the head. Blood pressure decreases and the heart gets to rest.
- Gravity assists the downward movement of lymph. Since the lymphatic system, which is part of the bodies immune system, does not have central pump, going upside down encourages the one way valves of the lymph system to clear the lower extremities.
- By tilting the chin slightly toward the chest, the spongy thyroid gland is gently squeezed and receives fresh new blood when the pose is released. This little butterfly shaped gland regulates our metabolism.
- With the head slightly below the heart and the forward tilt in the chin, the nervous system is told to relax. Baroreceptors are like tiny little command centers that detect blood flow in your neck. If they feel your blood flow increase, they send signals to the heart to relax. If you want more on the baroreceptors and inversions, visit this blog on Yoga for Heathy Aging.
- Overall, supported shoulder stand is one of the most beneficial poses for heart health. Physically and energetically, making the heart the home for awareness is like giving your spirit or soul self a chance to reboot.
Inverted poses are contraindicated for certain medical conditions. Please check with your doctor