Entries in Restorative yoga (6)


Legs Up the Wall Pose - Viparita Karani

One of my favorite restorative poses is Viparita Kanari or ’legs up the wall pose’. It relieves tired or cramped legs and feet and gently stretches the hamstrings, front torso, and the back of the neck. It’s also good for relieving mild backache and it calms the mind.

My restorative yoga teacher Bo Forbes claims that ‘legs up the wall’ can cure insomnia. I haven’t tried it myself (I have no trouble in that department), but if you have trouble going to sleep you can try it out to see if it’ll make you sleepy.

Old Hindu scriptures claim that Viparita Karani hides wrinkles in addition to banishing old age and death. I don’t know how much truth to put in that but the restorative nature of this posture gets blood flowing to parts of the body that need it, making it good for almost any ailment including arthritis, high or low blood pressure, respiratory ailments, and menopause.

If you’d like to make the position more inverted you can put a folded blanket or a bolster under your hips (unless you’re on your moon cycle (that’s yoga lingo for menstruating)).

Stay in the pose for 5 to 15 minutes. If your neck feels strained, you can place a rolled-up towel or blanket in the nape. If you start to experience pins and needles in your feet or any other discomfort just bend your legs and pull your knees to your chest. To get out of the pose gently roll down without twisting the spine.

I’m breaking in nice, new yoga clothes in the picture. Both the top and the tights are form Zalando.dk. The eye pillow was given to me at our honeymoon yoga retreat at Ulpotha in Sri Lanka.



Give Them Yoga

Yesterday one of my Facebook friends posted a question on her timeline: What is the big difference between yoga and Pilates? A very legit question if you’re new to both and want to figure out what to take up. The answers were interesting.

“Pilates is about strength and stability and yoga is more relaxing”

“It depends on which form of yoga you are talking about. Power yoga and flow yoga require a lot of strength. Hatha yoga is more about stretching. The mental dimension is primarily present in the relaxation at the end of the class”

I trust that these people talk from experience. They have probably taken some relaxing Hatha classes or fitness inspired power yoga classes with a guided Shavasana at the end, because that’s what yoga teachers teach; strength, stretching and guided relaxation.

I don’t know much about Pilates. On Wikipedia I can read that it is intended to strengthen the human mind and body and that is was developed by some dude in the first half of the 20th century. That does sound a lot like yoga. Lots of yogis developed their own systems and sequences from Hatha yoga last century: Pattabhi Jois, John Friend, Sharon Gannon and David Life and Bikram Choudhury (not to compare them, their ideas or systems in any way). I still think there’s a difference, though, and while I don’t know much about Pilates (which I’m sure is great), my point hasn’t really got anything to do with it.

My point is that there’s so much more to yoga than strength, stretching and relaxing – and that we as yoga teachers might forget to pass all this on to our students.

In an hour’s yoga class in a gym there isn’t time for studying the Yamas and Niyamas for meditation, chakra balancing, pranayama, bandhas, koshas, dristhi, kriyas, mantra and self-study. We know that if we say that Patanjali’s definition of yoga is to stop the fluctuations of the mind or that yoga in fact means unity – maybe even with our higher Self, God or the Universe, we’re considered ready for the loony bin. We should at least be wearing orange robes and have bald heads if we start talking about chakras and prana.

I do believe that you can have a great yoga practice without all these elements. Yoga can be a great physical or mental practice without mentions of the energetic body or Anandamaya Kosha. This way it’s accessible for everybody to experience the benefits of a yoga practice.  I, on the other hand, also believe that we as yoga teachers have an obligation to recognise when a student is ready to open up to these other aspects of yoga and give them a space for these aspects to grow, such as a sangha, a class or a referral to another teacher or workshop.

But you will be surprised about how many students come up to me after a chakra based restorative class to tell me about clearing blockages, experiencing strong emotions or asking where they can learn more.

All I’m trying to say is this: When a student asks for yoga, isn’t it our responsibility as teachers to give it to them? I know we can’t get though The Yoga Sutras in an hour in a gym, but we can always suggest that there is more than stretching and relaxing.

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Restorative Practice

I spent last night at Sattva Yoga with three of the yoga teachers I did the restorative yoga therapeutics teacher training with last year. For three hours we taught each other and exchanged experiences with the restorative practice.

Thank you girls. I feel restored and I'm looking forward to doing it again.


Thanks for Restoring


What a great, uplifting experience to guide twenty-something beautiful yogis through gentle flows, restorative poses and yoga nidra this weekend. The yoga shala at SenseS was filled with calm energy, sleepy smiles and a little snoring.

I wish I had taken a picture of all the relaxed bodies stretched out across the shala floor to show you.

Thanks to the people there for sharing the energy and for asking for more events of this kind. Keep and eye on Senses.dk and Om shanti’s Facebook page to keep updated on other events. Until then I hope to see you for some sweaty Asthanga Vinyasa on Sundays.




Workshop Sunday the 25th of November: Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra

On Sunday the 25th of November I’m giving a workshop in restorative yoga and yoga nidra at SenseS. It’s really misleading to call it a workshop as you will only be working on relaxing.
Restorative yoga is especially beneficial for you if you feel stressed or are having a hard time relaxing completely. Or if you just want two hours of complete relaxation and learn relaxation techniques that you can use at home. Here’s a little description of the workshop. Let me know if you have any questions.

Restorative Yoga
The restorative practice leads you deep into your body and brings you closer to yourself. When we work with relaxation, internalisation of the senses and calming of the mind we balance the nervous system and let go of our ‘fight or flight response’. There are many benefits of a restorative yoga practice: you can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, you can balance your blood pressure and blood sugar and improve your digestion and fertility.

Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra can be translated to ‘yogic sleep’ and is a systematic method for deep meditation. You don’t have to have practiced meditation before to participate. You will be guided through a meditation that will make you so relaxed that you might fall asleep. But that’s OK. Your subconscious mind will still be alert and benefit from the practice.

The Workshop

We’ll start with waking up the body with gentle flows before starting our restorative practice. We’ll support the body with props like blankets and bolsters so that it can surrender completely into the yoga asanas (positions) and learn to actively relax our bodies. We’ll end the workshop with a guided yoga nidra laying down.

Bring a jumper and a pair of socks and a bean bag (eye bag) if you have one (a scarf will also suffice).

You don’t have to be young, fit or flexible to participate. And you don’t have to have any experience with yoga. You don’t have to be a member of SenseS to join the workshop. Just sign up at Senses.dk and show up with an open mind.

The workshop is taught in Danish.

Time: Sunday the 25th of November at 16:00-18:00
Place: SenseS, Sommerstedgade 7, 1718 København V
Price: 100 DKK for members of SenseS. 200 DKK for non members

Sign up on  SenseS.dk and join the event on Facebook to spread the word.