I recently attended a restorative yoga workshop, and at the beginning of the practice, the teacher gently mentioned, “Sometimes during a restorative practice, emotions can bubble up.”
“I know, lady, I’m a trained therapist and a restorative yoga teacher. I think I can handle m’self, so let’s get this party started.” I scoffed inwardly.
She proceeded, “If that happens, try rolling to your side. Sometimes that helps to ease the emotional overwhelm.”
As we moved through the sequence, I noticed that my irritability and boredom were raging that day, and I entertained myself by imagining throwing my bolster through the window.
After a two hour restorative sequence, I knew we were near the end when she guided us to the final pose—supported Savasana—where you lie down on your back, bolster under the knees and a blanket under the head.
After getting all set up, I decided that for this last leg, I’d fantasize about what I would eat for dinner and find relief from the persistent restlessness I’d endured for the past two hours but in an instant, the restlessness transformed into a tsunami of sadness and the tears started flowing.
“Are you shitting me?” I thought, “I am so not in the mood for sadness right now.” And as much as I believe in letting emotion flow, I was concerned the people beside me might drown, so just as the teacher previously instructed, I rolled to the side and took a deep breath. Immediately, I felt soothed.
As I laid there, the teacher, whom just a few minutes ago I swore was the devil and source of all irritability and boredom, walked over, snuggled a bolster into my back, placed a blanket under my arm, and gently touched my shoulder. “My god, she must be some kind of angel!” I thought as I nestled into the props and settled into a restful side-lying Savasana.
Side-lying savasana doesn’t get enough love from the yoga world.
Next time you’re in yoga class or at-home practicing, try it if:
>>>You want to encourage proper digestion, aid in circulation back to the heart, and facilitate lymphatic drainage.
Check out John Douillard’s investigation of the benefits of resting on your left side from an Ayurvedic perspective.
>>> You are pregnant.
Most moms-to-be already know the problems associated with resting on the back (e.g., restricted breathing, backaches, decrease in circulation, abdomen resting on major blood vessels). Resting on your left side (with knees bent and a blanket between legs) has a host of benefits for pregnant women that include increasing the amount of nutrients that reach the baby and placenta.
>>> You’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed in the moment and/or you have experienced some kind of trauma which prevents you from feeling safe or relaxed in a supine position.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Adrienne Baggs
Apprentice editor: Katarina Tavčar / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s own