8 Nov 2016
Yoga for Inner Peace at Home
It can be very challenging to find inner peace when the world outside our home is so very busy, active and dynamic. We step outside our door and we are swept up the world’s pace of constant information and action. In eastern philosophy this type of energy is called Yang energy. The opposite and balancing energy is call Yin energy.
In order to keep balance with the over abundance of yang energy that is in daily life these days, we need to create some time and space in our day off introspection, contemplation, peace and quiet.
Without this balance we can quickly start to feel like a coil ‘wound up tight’ and become anxious, irritable, creatively exhausted and overwhelmed.
I often use the analogy of treating our inner reserves like a deep well we draw from each day to water the garden of our lives. If we continually draw from the well without refilling it, it is only natural that it will run dry.
Of course a retreat is a wonderful way of deeply filling your well, but if you are unable to get away another place that can visit to support the establishment of inner peace is our home. Even if we live with others, home can provide the quiet sanctuary to offer respite for our world weary souls.
Here are some easy and simple yin yoga practices that you can do at home for around 30 mins at the beginning or end of the day for centering and calming your spirit. At the heart of each of these poses is the truth that positive results can also come from doing less, not more.
Items You will need:
A Yoga Mat or Comfortable carpet area
A bolster or cylindrical cushion
A Blanket or Large Shawl
Calming or inspirational music, scented candles or incense
With this practice I recommend you create a little relaxation playlist and with each posture hold it for 1 – 2 songs which would naturally give you approx 3 – 10 minutes each pose. When the song ends change the pose.
1) First Calm Your Mind and Release Anxiety with Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose gives you all the benefits of a yoga inversion without the challenge of standing on your head. It relieves fluid build up as it relaxes tired legs and feet. It also has very positive effects on blood circulation and quickly calms and anxious or stressed mind. Lie on your back with you bottom up against the wall. Put a folded blanket or bolster under your sacrum to raise your pelvis area and help the blood drain down into your chest cavity. You can’t the blanket in place before you start or when you are up push you feet against the wall to raise your hips and slide the blanket or pillow into place. Once you are in place just relax and place your arms wherever you feel comfortable – turn up slightly outreached by your side usually feels good. You can let your hands rest on your belly or spread you arms beside on the floor with no tension. Close your eyes and listen to you breath or some calming music, and smell the fragrance of your candles and incense. Hold this position for 5 minutes and to come down bend your knees and you can raise your hips to remove blanket or just turn to your right side and push yourself slowly away from the wall. Take a few deep breaths and come up slowly as you have been in an ‘inversion’ and feel the sense of calm and rebalance that you have experienced from the pose.
2) Secondly Open Your Heart with supported chest opener pose (Supported Savasana).
Put a bolster or rolled up blanket lengthways under the centre of your back from the top of your sacrum (hip area) up your spine so it supports your head and neck comfortably. Extend your legs out and let them rest in a naturally falling out position – you can place another bolster under the backs of your knees for extra support. (If you want some extra hip opening in this position bend your legs and put the soles of your feet together and let the knees open into ‘butterfly’ leg pose.) You can let your hands rest on your belly or spread you arms sideways on the floor to open the heart more. Relax and listen to your body, don’t be afraid if you feel a bit uncomfortable in this pose as we hold a lot of tension around our chest and hip areas, so emotions and sensations can arise. To come out of the pose, contract your abs and use your arms to slowly push your torso up into a seated position. Take a few breaths here and then move to the next pose.
3) Honour the vulnerability inside you with child’s pose (Balasana)
Sit on your heels and keeping your bottom close to your heels bend forward to lay your body over your bent legs. If this is not comfortable try a wide leg option by sitting on your heels with big toes touching and knees spread wide. Lay your body down in between your legs and stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you – bend at the elbows if you find this more comfortable than straight arms. You can also support your upper body and head with a bolster or rolled up blanket as less challenging option or just put the bolster horizontal under your out stretched arms. Honouur yourself by finding out your boundaries in this pose, as in all yoga asanas it is ok to feel a bit of general discomfort as you stretch tight areas, but you should not feel any sharp pain. Now relax and breathe lightly as your belly will be compressed in this position and feel the sense of peace and vulnerability in this pose.
4) Let Go of the Past with a Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Lie on your back. Bring your knees up to your chest and spread your arms at the side at shoulder height. move your knees to the right, keep your left shoulder on the mt and turn you head to the right. stay like this for 3 minutes (or one song) afterwards move your knees back to the middle and do the pose in reverse on the other side.
5) For Intergating your Inner Peace relax in Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Although it may feel like you are doing ‘nothing’. Savasana is a very important pose, it is about letting go and being present, letting go of tension, thoughts, distractions, memories, ideas.
In Savasana there is nothing to ‘do’ so our ego can learn to completely surrender to stillness and peace. As we learn to surrender into deep relaxation of the ‘corpse’ pose, our thoughts can literally die away and we find ourselves in a quiet space of pure unconditional existence, a state of our ‘be-ing’.
Lie on your back and stretch your legs. You can put a bolster under your knees to receive your lower back if that is more comfortable. Put a blanket under your head too. Make sure your keep warm by putting on socks or covering yourself with a blanket or shawl. Let your feet fall outwards fully relaxed. let your arms fall out from your side palms upwards. close your eyes and you may want to put a eye pillow on them. consciously relax your face and gently separate your jaw and let your lower jaw drop down and open slightly to part your lips with no tension. firstly feel through your body from the head down to see if you are holding tension anywhere. if you have a hard time releasing the tension you can try squeezing or contracting the muscles tightly for 5 seconds then releasing all tension to see if this helps. Once you are relaxed focus your attention on your breathing. if you find your mind is still active, then focusing on a mantra will help to bring it back to the moment. for this sequence I recommend you silently use the mantra repeating- I AM PEACE or I AM PEACE FULL – stay like this for 5 – 10 minutes or as long as you like.
To exit the pose start to bring awareness back to the body by touching your finger tips with your thumb pad and slowly wriggle your toes. when you feel ready roll to your right side and stay in a side or partial fetal position for a few breaths then come up slowly to an ease cross legged pose.
6) Seal your practice with cross legged pose (padmasana)
Place your hands either in prayer pose at your chest centre or cupping each other in your lap. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and feeling the sense of inner peace and clarity. You may want to take this time to set an intention, say a prayer or simply say ‘Namaste’ as you acknowledge and honour the higher self that resides in you that guides you to make the highest choices for yourself thought your life.
Final recommendations – with this restorative sequence if you don’t have time to do them all in one go, it’s better to do 1 or 2 with the minimum timing of 3 minutes (there really is no maximum time for supported pose), than all of them with a shorter amount of time.