Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Using gentle weights such as Eye Pillows and Sand bags to your Yoga sessions or private clients will have profound effects that effortlessly create the Relaxation response along with a blissful feeling of nurture and embodiment.
Let's explore how these two Yoga prop Guru's can change your anxiety levels, help you breathe better and release long held tension in various parts of your body.
My own personal experience of these beauties occurred after my Mother passed away 14 years ago, it was suggested I use props to help sustain the emotional boundaries of grief. For my grief was more than simply loss, it was also the unresolved trauma in which I had never confronted or spoken of and to which part of that included my mothers involvement and her inability to offer support and nurture, which at the time I was unaware these two ingredients were vital to healthy emotional, mental and physical well being.
The inclusion of a bolster, weights and eye pillows gave me the support and nurture that my body had longed for, it acted as an embodied aid towards acceptance of who I truly was, that "it's Ok & I'm Ok". It enabled me solace, to seek both forgiveness and understanding and the journey towards the power of healing, surrender and trust so needed when healing the nervous system and trauma.
My honest belief is that hands on touch is one thousand times more powerful for many reasons, yet it is not always the best place to start for everyone, depending upon each person's circumstance.
The sweet Science and Service of these special two Yoga prop guru's.
These precious gifts an eye cover and Sandbag.were created by BKS Iyengar. Every Therapist and Restorative teacher needs these to support and ground students and clients. In fact if you are living and breathing, know that just having these at home and using daily can reduce anxiety,assist you to sleep better, create a feeling of safety and create a luscious embodiment and a sense of safety, surrender and nurture for the emotional body. If you have a mind wired on speed dial applying the gentle weight of both eye and sand pillows will help return a felt sense to the body rewiring a pathway where you become able to direct your mind towards its concentration centre the (pre frontal cortex) where a natural awareness and curiosity exists.
The Humble eye pillow.
Eye Pillows, are one of our most powerful healing go too's, especially when it comes to a balanced nervous system. Did you know...your vagus nerve is your primary restorative activator, one of twelve cranial nerves that originates in the brain, travels down the back of the neck and into the chest and heart, and then moves down into the abdomen and digestive area. Resting for just five minutes with an eye pillow over your eyes or brow-bone is like pressing the “reset” button! Pressure on the eyeballs & eyebrows lowers heart rate, by eliciting what’s called the oculocardiac reflex. which stimulates the vagus : It regulates heart rate and digestion, and it’s the primary circuit through which our belly brain regulates mood. It’s the main communicator to our rest-and-digest system, which helps us to relax more deeply. It also elicits our tend-and-befriend system, (via oxytocin) enabling us to reach out and connect with others. This is the 101 essential factor in long-term stress resilience, and research indicates, it increases happiness too...!
Here's what some of my research into weighting and touch receptors show:
Weighting body parts....
Physiologically, our hands occupy about 30% of the sensory cortex in the brain. From an energetic perspective, they are the transmitters of Shakti, which is the mother-nature force the governs us. The hands also relate to the heart and throat chakras, so how we touch relates to both how we feel and how we communicate. So when touch is applied through weighting the body, it responds as if being touched, nurtured and provides a sense of warmth, safety and felt sense.
In the brain, touch promotes neuro-physiological responses that release chemicals and neurotransmitters that help reduce stress, pain, and depression. In the body, touch stimulates the vagus nerve See above) in ways that help reduce stress and enhance immunity (Kerr, Wiechula, Feo, Schultz, & Kitson, 2016).
Using weight instead of human touch can be a way to help students, clients and practitioners rewire important brain receptors that may have become dormant during early childhood trauma or other past trauma events, along with turning down Auto Pilot and hyper vigilance that is so apparent in our modern society, and in return create a new environment of safety and nurture that offers tools and support that enables a person to increase internal awareness of how they respond to touch, while at the same time decreasing reactivity and increasing a sense of safety, which triggers the neuro pathways to rewire once again, this time in ways that allow for a positive experience of nurturing touch.
Sandbags do this by adding a Felt sense : This interupts the Mental stream of responses of continuing "doing - thinking" and address the rewiring to parts that may be dis embodied. By using weights or props the body becomes the teacher and as you listen deeply, your body will tell you what it wants, if it requires a different shape, form or support, it self corrects...for this , it requires a feeling of Safety that touch and support offers.
When we create environments in which the risk of perceiving touch as threatening is minimised and create agreeable Yoga environments where choice becomes the platform for practice, to receive the nurturing experience of touch on the body, new opportunities to experience touch in ways that someone may have never experienced before: unconditional, supportive, and healing become available, which provides a positive, dynamic and self empowering experience..
When touch arises through acceptance as supportive and nurturing, our body’s stress response is down regulated. We experience increased vagal tone and parasympathetic activation. Our bodies naturally produce more oxytocin and opioids (Jakubiak & Feeny, 2016). All of this plays an important role in increasing social, psychological, and physical well-being.
Integrating hands on enhancements:
If you are a teacher or a hands on therapist once the felt sense of touch is returned, placing the hands on with a gentle but firm reassuring way, asking your person is that something they might consider for today to enhance their progress and most importantly checking in with yourself to ensure you are grounded and embodied and your intentions to offer support and hold space are clear.
Below are a couple of examples that you can introduce weights and nurture in both classes and private clinics....
Weight over abdomen increases Diaphragmatic breath & deep relaxation . Weight on temporal bones reduces head tension and jaw tension. Weight on Mid back brings breath and balance to the adrenals, weight on the thighs creates a sense of grounding and embodiment. Weight on shoulders helps to relax neck and jaw, over the feet a deep sense of grounding. You can place weights just about anywhere on the body anywhere some experience of "dis embodiment" has occurred.
The best way to fully understand its healing potential is to experience the use of weighting and touch and find your own sweet spots on the body that long to be held and re united. A very magical spiritual connectivity arises when we offer nurture and touch both to ourselves and others.
Want to learn more? connect www.spiritofyoga.com.au and take up one of our Training Courses or workshops contact us direct for classes and practitioners.
In 2020 a new addition to the Restorative Training and Yoga Nidra training course is coming along as an addition to the above 50 hour component already in offering.
May your journey be light and your mind free, may you learn to live in present moment reality taking in all the gifts of life as often as you can, May you have peace, health and abundance.
Cathie Bolsters, sand pillows and eye pillows can be purchased by www.calmbuddhi.com.au