Mind-Body Alignment

by mandy lipka

Just completed my second visit to a polarity healer/massage therapist in north central MA. The atmosphere is exactly as you expect– old Victorian home at the end of a dead end in a tiny rural New England town, complete with screened in gazebo for spring and summer visits. I absolutely adore the 50-minute drive. And I’m in good company, as one client travels all the way from New Jersey for Judy’s magical powers.

Judy, Judy, Judy. You caught me in such a whirlwind. And you picked up on it immediately. I let Judy know it was an exceptional week and she talked me down and reassured me that the first visit is the dating dance. We need to build our trust in one another before the healing begins. I started to meditate and smell the cleary sage as we worked through our first exercise. I began to tell her the laundry list of bad habits that misalign my body and she held her hands beneath my sit bones to see how much damage I have done over the years. While she worked her magic on my post-yoga sore body she challenged my mind with some probing questions— When was the last time you saw your father? At what age did you lose your virginity?

I loved it. By the end, she knew more about me than I’ve ever told any single person. And we left with an embrace (and as if the stars didn’t align enough— Hey Jude was on when I got back into the car). But, not before she reminded me that my hard work is now going to pay off. As we began she gave me recipe for a salt bath and told me she’d show me a Buddhist sleep pose. I spent the session eagerly hoping the one I had in mind would be it. It’s a favorite of mine when I’m stressed out, but I’ve never been able to actually fall asleep in it. It’s called side-lying savasana and it looks a little something like this:

But, this side is for digestion. Flip it and it puts you to sleep. One change – your left arm should stretch outward (feel free to place a pillow on top of it to keep it neutral) and you should be very mindful of keeping a flat back (imagine there is a wall behind you– may be helpful to put a pillow there, too). If you’re like me and slept on your stomach for more than 20 years, this pose as it is on your left side helps as a transition since the hand placement is more parasympathetic to your nervous system. Find more restorative variations here.

Judy read my mind. This was the pose. And in the past two months since she helped me focus on the details, I’ve slept in this pose 90% of the time! It’s been the most peaceful, restful sleep I’ve had in years.

Upon telling her this today, she let me know we’re going to take it a step further and do a pose that will allow me to clear my head during the day— something very helpful for switching hats between client meetings. It goes a little something like this:

Now, from here, you want to be sure that your arms have a chance to be heavy. Wag them around a bit. Most importantly, you want to pretend your head has a 10-lb weight attached to it to ensure it stays down throughout the rest of the bend. Oh, and be sure your knees aren’t locked (even if they’re straight). From this pose (here’s where it differs a bit from yoga class), you want to put your arms out to the sides and then hinge at the hips. Continue to move from your hips and then your back all the way back up, with your head down and heavy the whole time. Move VERY slowly, one vertebrae at a time until finally, you lift your neck and the crown of your head aligns with your body. Immediately, you should feel a wave of relaxation as the blood starts to flow back down your body, grounding you. Rinse, lather, and repeat. The more you do this pose in sequence, the more effective.

Throughout the next few weeks, I will continue to sleep in my side-lying restorative pose and try this standing forward fold as necessary. My other homework is to work on making sure that my right sit bone/hip stays aligned with my left (95% of us have this problem where our right hip is slightly forward causing us to sit on our tailbone instead). I invite you to try these poses and share your experience below. Stay tuned for the next adventure!

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