(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque)
Relaxation and stress management are important in maintaining our health, happiness and performance in life. This is especially important in our culture where the focus is almost exclusively on expending energy. Keep moving, keep busy, and keep striving. We fuel our bodies on the move and and sacrifice sleep in the name of ambition. There’s nothing wrong with being up to great things in life. It’s important to share our unique gifts with the world, and that requires action and energy. Having said that, it is unrealistic to think that our bodies and minds can thrive while expending energy without replenishment. Top athletes know that recovery days are important to enhance performance. Our muscles perform optimally when they can contract fully and yield fully, and we perform better in life when we know how to take action and relax. Relaxation is just as important a pose for paddlers as any other pose. Take the time to include it at the end of every practice and whenever you need a rest.
One such relaxation pose is legs up the wall. Legs up the wall is one of the most relaxing yoga poses and feels wonderful after hours of traveling. I highly recommend practicing this pose to wind down before bed, or anytime you need to unwind.
- Place your yoga mat with a short edge (front or back) against a wall.
- Sit on the mat right next to the wall with one hip touching the wall.
- Turn toward the wall and lie back with your legs up the wall.
- You may have to shift forward until your butt is against the wall.
- Let your arms relax by your sides, palms facing up, not too close and not too far away from the body.
- Let go of controlling the breath, and simply observe the path of the breath through the body.
- Notice the thoughts in your mind, acknowledge them, and let them float away as if they were clouds passing by overhead, or a leaf floating downstream in the current. Return your attention to the path of the breath through the body.
- Hold for as long as feels good, and enjoy the benefits of relaxation and rejuvination.
To learn more about how yoga can improve your paddling and balance your body, check out Anna’s new book Yoga for Paddling. Order through the Mind Body Paddle webstore before December 31st, 2017 for a copy signed by Anna and receive free shipping! Also check out our other holiday specials on kayak and SUP instruction and Ayurveda Wellness Counseling packages. Save up to $100 while giving a meaningful gift this Holiday Season!