Meet the experts: Tracey Ellis
Yoga teacher, shamanic practitioner, earth activist & founder of restorative yoga brand Shanti Sundays Tracey is on a mission to encourage us to slow down & connect deeply to our roots & the wisdom of the heart by slowing down & prioritising rest as an act of rebellion & the portal to our deepest soul care.
"As Nature begins to retreat inward for a well-earned rest, the best thing we can do is follow her lead and welcome the opportunity to do the same. Contrary to what the patriarchal system will have you believe, WE NEED REST. And plenty of it. Especially during challenging times and in the colder months when the sun is in short supply and immunity is lowered. We were born to live in harmony with the cycles and rhythm of Nature. Just like Mother Earth, our value is not determined by our output. We are not meant to over produce.
This practice, for me, is the most therapeutic and sacred practice there is that offers a sanctuary to process all that is unfolding within and without. This deep supported rest is as pure an act of rebellion towards our capitalist system that I can think of. Sacred activism rooted in self-care.
Restorative yoga offers an antidote to the intensity of these challenging times. With so much fear and uncertainty in the air our individual and collective nerves are under stress which, when sustained, isn’t great for our mental or physical health.
Through deep rest and breath awareness, restorative yoga restores balance to the nervous system by dialling down the stress response and stimulating the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system, thus promoting better health all round.
Restorative yoga invites you to meet yourself where you are and by cultivating a deep inner stillness creates a container for healing and a return to wholeness to takes place. We are the medicine.
The only thing I suggest you ramp up at this time of year is your practice of rest and restorative yoga. Switch off your phone and grab yourself a bolster and some blankets and settle into you".
You can try this sequence at home...
Place a neatly folder blanket under the head and lie on your back with the knees bent. Place the hands on your solar plexus and begin to follow the breath as it settles and finds it natural rhythm. Breath softly and evenly for 5 minutes. This begins the process of settling and forming a deeper connection to your breath.
Windscreen wiper legs
Begin in effortless rest with feet hip width apart. On the exhale take the knees to the right, rolling on to the edges of the feet. Pause for a full breath cycle and return to the centre on the inhale. Repeat to the other side. Repeat 2 – 3 times.
Revolved abdominal pose (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Lying on your back in effortless rest, shift your hips to the right, lengthen your left leg along the floor and draw your right knee into the chest. Take a full breath in and out and on the next exhale gently draw the knee across the body, twisting to the left. Release the opposite shoulder towards the floor and open the arm to the side. Feel the lengthening action of the spine. Take 6 full cycles of breath and then change sides. This helps to release the musculature of the back, opens the ribcage and releases the diaphragm to help facilitate deeper breathing.
Supported Childs Pose
Support the torso with a bolster (or a pillow from your bed wrapped into a bolster shape) placed vertically under the body. Hug the ned of the bolster with soft gently cupped hands. Turn the head to one side. Optional to roll up a blanket and place it between the buttocks and the heels if you experience knee pain. This is deeply relaxing and calming for the nervous system.
Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha onasana)
Place a bolster vertically under the torso from the waist upwards, supporting the head with a blanket. With your pelvis on the floor bring the soles of your feet together and release your knees to the sides. Support the knees and outer thigs with pillows or blankets. Stay for 10 – 12 minutes focusing on relaxed deep breathing. This is deeply relaxing for the body and the nervous system and helps to relieve fatigue, abdominal tension whilst releasing tension in the pelvis and hips. The perfect posture to practice before and during menstruation.
Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Kirani)
Place a blanket underneath the head and swing your legs up the wall. You can place a bolster under the pelvis for support , or on the feet or the abdomen to ground the lower back. Inversions are incredibly calming for the nervous system and help refresh the legs if you’ve been sitting or standing all day! I often do this for 15 minutes at the end of the day before I go to bed. It’s the best way to end the day.
Wonderful, thank you so much for your time, Tracey. You can find out more about Tracey's retreats, yoga practices & beautiful products at Shanti Sundays.