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Constructive Rest

I learned this restorative practice in a psoas workshop with my teacher, Liz Koch. Since then this has been a lifesaver for me on many occasions. I use it as a wonderful way to release tension in my lower back, to make the most of any downtime during a birth and on the flip side to help my body replenish after a long birth. But anyone can use it anytime for deep relaxation and overall health.

What makes this resting pose so restorative is how it causes the psoas muscle to slacken, helping the muscle into a relaxed state. The psoas is one of the main muscles involved in our sympathetic nervous system's flight, flight, and freeze response. It reaches from our mid-back to our inner thighs, so when the psoas contracts it curls us into a fetal position, presumably keeping us safe from danger. When we're stressed it tends to tighten up, chronically, in this effort to protect us from "threat". Doing this pose helps the psoas unwind again releasing peripheral strain on the low back along with it.

What I love about this version of constructive rest is also how the weight of the knees above the hips helps balance unevenness in the pelvis too. When I'm really out of whack I'll feel how one side of my sacrum is in less contact with the floor than the other. After 5-10 minutes this discrepancy resolves itself and balance is restored.

During pregnancy, pelvic balance also plays a major role in optimal fetal positioning. While it may not be ideal for pregnant women to lie for 10 or 15 minutes on her back like this, notice how if you turn it upside down and put your hands on the floor you're basically in a hands and knees pose. This is one of the reasons why it's so healthy for pregnant women to spend time on their hands and knees everyday. It helps release a tight psoas and helps to balance the pelvis.

Give this exercise a try (pregnant or not) and see how it feels for you. Let me know how you like it!

Join me for my next Comforting Touch workshop where we learn a wide variety of techniques for self-care, like this, even while we learn how to serve our clients. After all, how can we take good care of others unless we take good care of ourselves!?!

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