We met Suzie Vinograd at Getaway DC, where she took a restorative weekend to enjoy the benefits of nature. As a health and wellness coach herself- and a celebrated yoga instructor – it was a perfect fit for National Yoga Day, that Suzie would share with us some of her essential tips for restoration.
Morning Savasana (and Pranayama)
I know this might sound counter intuitive since you likely will have been resting all night, but enjoying a few moments of intentional morning savasana (corpse pose) before you actually get out of bed can neutralize, unwind, and relax the body from strange sleeping positions.
Turning the palms to face up alongside of you, allowing the heads of your thigh bones to relax, the feet to splay out naturally, guide yourself through some slow deep, methodical breaths. Beginning your day this way can help to relieve stress by calming the nervous system right from the get-go. Savasana doesn’t have to be saved for the end of a yoga practice to be effective, though it is the pinnacle posture that we’ve all been waiting for after a vigorous flow, too.
As you are exiting savasana in the comfort of your bed (or if you have chosen to move to your mat), I highly recommend drawing the knees into the chest, giving yourself a tight little squeeze and rocking easily from side to side, massaging the low back, compressing the creases of the hips and rounding out the cervical spine as you hug your nose in towards your knees.
As you come out of this tight ball, bring the hands to the inside or outer edges of your knees, grabbing hold of your feet and allow yourself to take a little anandabalasana, to stretch the inner groin and length out the spine. Often times we crouch and curl when we sleep, so opening up the body first thing in the morning (or even prior to falling asleep at night) can be a great way to return to neutral, in body and in mind.
Our mind-body often mirrors our physical body (or is it vice versa?), so whether we are conscious of it or not, often times when we care for one, we may feel the benefits affecting the others.
Morning Sun Salutes
Even when I don’t have time to do a full practice first thing in the morning, I always feel better when I salute the sun upon waking. This doesn’t have to be vigorous, in a heated room, or in a studio to be effective. It can literally be done in the comfort of your living room, at the end of your bed, or better yet, the space right outside of your Getaway cabin.
Just roll out your mat, and come to standing at attention (Samasthiti) at the top of your mat. Allow your feet to be hip width distance and your palms to rest at the heart. Allowing your movement to be inspired by your breath is not only restorative and safer for the body – creating space, warmth, and even a bit of strength as you stretch and move through your up dogs and down dogs – but it is deeply restorative for the mind. It can actually take on the quality of a moving meditation if you aim to establish a rhythmic flow.
This isn’t one of the 8 limbs of yoga, but I find journaling before or after (or both) to be deeply restorative. It’s an important piece of repair- to clear the mind and cleanse the body of anything that it may be holding onto – good, bad or in between. I like to think of my yoga practice as one of my tools for pressing pause and returning to neutral, and it’s virtually impossible to return to neutral if you don’t know what could be in the way. Journaling could be free flowing or prompted – it could even begin with a mantra, or simply be a notation of gratitude, which has been scientifically proven to be deeply healing and an important ingredient for our longterm wellbeing.
Try these restorative yoga practices on your next escape.
I’ve been practicing yoga now for about 13 years and teaching for almost ten. The very first class I ever took was a hot yoga class, Bikram and then a Vinyasa Flow at a studio called Inner Fire in Madison, Wisconsin where I went to school. I quickly became hooked – devoting 2+ hours a day to get there and back (usually by bike from campus, or bus), to practice one or more classes.
Immediately, I started to feel the healing properties of the whole shebang – the flow of the postures, coupled with the music, the intensity of the heat, the wonderful instruction, the group energy – allowed my racing mind to find a temporary sort of ease; allowed my body to unravel all of the mental tension it manifested within, and allowed my heart to soften and surrender a bit. I was developing a discipline and devotion to something that I had not experienced since playing high school sports or my involvement growing up in the performing arts. Little did I know then that yoga would become a hugely integral part of my ‘adult’ path. All this is to say, I practice some form of yoga everyday (there are 8 limbs, so the physical practice, or the asana, is just one), and I have found several of these practices to be deeply restorative in nature, allowing me to reground, reset, and renew.
For more information about my services, or to follow along my spirited journey, you can visit suzievinograd.com.