I’ve been known to work 20+ hour days, especially when I was in Washington D.C. for over 10 years, much of it spent as the head of the Inter-American Foundation: an independent agency of the U.S. government that funds grassroots development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was a tough schedule for all aspects of mind, body, and spirit health.
How can one possibly decompress after such a long day? It’s easy: “Put your feet up!”
A friend of mine, Dr. Frank Lipman, who I know from his many visits as a lecturer at Rancho La Puerta, recently shared his simple tutorial for a “Supported Relaxation Pose.” We’re essentially advocating the same thing, as do many others—including centuries of restorative yoga techniques. But sometimes the simplest methods get lost in the latest fitness litany of “hot flow” this and “power” that. I highly recommend that you try it—whether you’re at home, visiting relatives and friends, or on the road in a hotel. It’s as easy as pulling up a chair, tucking a folded towel behind your head, putting your feet up...and saying ahhh.
Dr. Lipman hasn’t yet posted the following on his excellent health-tips blog, so we will share his simple tutorial as a preview:
At This Time of Year
Many of my patients complain of exhaustion and stress from all the holiday shopping and activities. To help relieve their fatigue and tension, I encourage them to take time to incorporate restorative exercises into their day, which calm and rejuvenate the nervous system. This Chair Support Pose is one of my favorite ways to decompress after a particularly busy day.
What It Does
The pose gently nudges the lower back to open up, broaden and release, while simultaneously releasing the hips and groins and softening the belly. It is easy to do and a great way to prepare for sleep. It’s also effective relief for someone with back pain. For added restful benefit, cover your eyes with an eye mask.
How To Do It
Pick a folding or dining chair with a hole in the back, or use a regular chair turned sideways.
- Support the head with a blanket or folded towel, which should make your face tilt downwards slightly. This should not strain your neck, but serve to emphasize and support the natural curve and shape of your cervical spine.
- Extend the back of your neck, bringing your chin slightly down and letting your throat be soft. The face, eyes and shoulders are also soft and easy.
- Notice the angle of the thighs [slightly less than at a right angle]. Adjust your legs so that you have the sensation of your legs being fully supported and “falling” away from you onto the chair. This will give the groin and lower back (lumbar spine) a great sense of relaxation.
- Rest and breathe in this position for at least 10 minutes.
- Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, DrFrankLipman.com