Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Yoga Lounge

For the past eight years I have been honored to provide volunteer yoga services to the participants of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Pacific Coast Chapter 50 Mile Challenge Walk. Prior to being their yoga provider I actually walked the challenge from 2004 through 2011. (Full disclosure, in 2009 I did all the fundraising but my OB didn't think it advisable that I walk at 8 months pregnant. Turns out I left the event early to give birth to my son).

The Yoga Lounge, 2019
As the yoga provider I help kick-start the event Friday morning with (humorous) stretching/warm-up during Opening Ceremonies, and Saturday and Sunday mornings I greet the walkers in the breakfast room with foam rollers and tennis balls for self massage and suggestions on chair yoga poses to stretch the quadriceps, hamstrings, back muscles, hips, or whatever else needs a morning wake-up.

Friday and Saturday afternoons I host the BYOM Yoga Lounge, a quiet, prop-equipped room that includes:
  • Yoga mats and blankets
  • Multiple sized bolsters
  • Blocks and straps
  • Stretch bands
  • Chilled golf balls and smaller rubber balls for foot massages
  • Tennis balls and lacrosse balls for larger muscle massage
  • Small foam rollers
  • Aromatherapy mist
  • Quiet music and ambient lighting 
  • Chairs for those not able to get onto the floor
I like to think of the service as yoga "triage." Walkers (and staff and volunteers who have spent up to 12 hours on their feet supporting walkers) come in, let me know what body part/s need soothing, and I try to set them up with yoga poses, restorative or otherwise, that will help to stretch, ease, strengthen, and soothe their body stresses. They can also do their own thing, using the props as needed in a quiet space. I supply aromatherapy mists, body lotions, as well as handmade magnesium chloride muscle rub for soothing aching body parts (click to order this on ETSY

Mg Muscle Rub
For some, just taking off shoes and socks and rubbing the soles of the feet on iced golf balls (spiked with a little essential oil) can be delightful. For others the act of lying horizontal, on a blanket, or a supported bolster with feet down, knees up, can be the low back release that does the trick after pounding the pavement for 20 miles.

Walking 20 miles (or even just being upright all day) can create postural challenges (hunching over). Simply lying supine, with arms overhead and resting on blocks can open the shoulders without causing wear and tear on the shoulder joints (see Constructive Savasana below).

Hips, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps also take a beating on long walks, so I have a variety of supported floor based yoga poses I introduce, encouraging everyone to hold for at least three minutes, utilizing long slow breaths to maximize the calming effort for muscle and nervous system relaxation.

Some of my time-tested favorites:

Deer Pose/Lazy Pigeon: Prone, legs bent, bottom leg knee closer to body. Torso can be supported on a bolster. perform on both sides. Similar to Pigeon but far less intense on the lower knee and less stretch on the back leg quad/psoas.

Prone Dancing Shiva/Prone Pavritta Hasta Padagusthasana: Prone extended leg and arm twist. hand and big toe do not have to touch. lower leg extends, body working to "fold" on top of lower leg, pushing through lower heel. bottom hip can be supported (as shown) on block or bolster. restorative version has torso on bolster (not hip). perform on both sides.

Supta Pavritta Hasta Padaghustasana (with props): Supine Twisting Hand to Big Toe Pose has a strap between the hand and top leg that cross over the body, pushing through the heel. upper leg can rest on a bolster/block. Restorative version does not use a strap, or has strap around top thigh and looped around upper arm (see pic). perform on both sides.

Broken Wing/Figure 4: Prone, one leg hiked up to the side at 90 degree like hugging a pillow, ankle below knee. Head turned to one side. release for glutes and outer hip and low bag. Torso can be supported on a bolster. perform on both sides.

Constructive Savasana: Supine, on floor or supported by bolster esp. with low back support. if on bolsters, use additional blocks/blankets under length of arms to prevent hyper-extension of shoulders.

Legs up the Wall/Vipariti Karani: Supine, sit bones at or near wall. bolster under length of body including pelvis and head, or on floor. legs can be gently bound at upper this with strap to support adductors. arms overhead for shoulder stretch or by side, palms open. eye pillow optional. gentle weight/blanket over body or on hips for grounding/low back release optional. gentle weight/blanket on/over feet optional.

Supported Prone Savasana: Prone, bolster/rolled blankets under belly, legs extended at end of bolster or separated to allow knees to descend off sides (similar to frog). arms crossed under head on bolster or floor. rolled blanket under shins for low back support. flesh can be distributed over edge of bottom bolster/between two bolsters for comfort rather than struggle with compression.

Savasana (Restorative): Supine, with bolsters under torso/hips, head, and additional rolled blanket or bolster beneath knees to release low back. arms supports. option to cover eyes, gentle weights/blanket on bellow/hips.

Deer Pose/Lazy Pigeon Prone Dancing Shiva Variation

Revolved Hand to Big Toe Variation Revolved Hand to Big Toe Variation

Legs up the Wall Broken Wing

Prone Savasana Variation 1 Prone Savasana Variation 2

Constructive Savasana

Restorative Savasana Variation Traditional Savasana
If you are looking for a Yoga Lounge provider for your charity event keep BYOMyoga in mind! The NMSS is near and dear to my heart and you'll see me here every year I'm able to provide service. Check the About Me page to see other events at which I volunteer this type of service, or teach Adaptive/Chair yoga classes. Namaste!

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