Rest and digest – a restorative practice

When I was young, an uncle of mine would delight in telling us children that Christmas wasn’t really about presents at all. Clutching our gifts from Santa, my cousins and I would stare up at him, uncomprehending. With glee he would impart his wisdom: “Christmas is about the food!”

As an adult I have come to agree with my uncle. If I am not staggering from dinner table to couch for an afternoon of movies and mulled wine, I don’t really feel I’ve celebrated the season. This years lockdown has given me a gift of sorts: time. I have been rooting out old recipies and trying my hand at some of the tastes of home. (I managed a fairly decent mince pie!)

After a few days of this my body usually says “enough”. An excess of eating, effort, and activity over the Christmas period is all part of the fun. It also leaves me feeling a bit frazzled. What I need now is some time to rest and digest. Legs-up-the-wall is a favoured post-meal pose of mine and I can’t beat simple relaxation pose for calming my nervous system – almost like a reset button.

You will need 3 blankets and a training mat or large blanket to lay out on the floor. It is useful to have a timer. Each post can be done for as little as 3 up to 15 minutes.

Scroll down to view the practice, or download a PDF guide here:


REST AND DIGEST

Calm your nervous system using relaxing body positions and a breathing exercise.This practice balances excess of activity and effort, and promotes digestion. Lie on a training mat or blanket. You will need an additional 3 blankets for the practice.

CALMING BREATH

Set a timer for 3-15 minutes, depending on how long you have. Adjust the size of the rolled blankets as needed.

While you are in the positions, notice the contact points between your body and the floor. Ensure that you are comfortable.

Observe your breathing, without trying to change it. Take a deep breath to settle yourself.

With each exhale, let your body become heavy. Allow your body to settle down onto the floor. Notice yourself melting, letting go of all effort and simply being.

LEGS UP THE WALL

Set up 3 blankets as shown. The blanket closest to the wall should be the same height or higher than the other 2. Your hips should be the same height or higher than your spine. Let your shoulders melt.

Stay for 3 – 15 minutes.

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BASIC RELAXATION POSE

Use one rolled blanket to support your knees and a folded blanket under your head. Create a small roll to support your neck. The 3rd blanket covers your body and is tucked in around your legs and arms to create a cosy cocoon.

Stay for 3 – 20 minutes.

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