A guide to Active Rest

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active rest 1Andrea Hughes
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Active Rest (otherwise known as Semi Supine or Constructive Rest) is a restorative procedure that can safely be done at home. Simply, it is a way to help the spine to decompress and the mind to calm by using helpful thoughts.

Intervertebral discs become compressed due to faulty posture and movement patterns, as well as gravity acting vertically downward on the spine all day. A person's height difference between night and morning is on average 1.6 cm.

Directional Thinking, such as thoughts of “releasing, lengthening and widening” are converted into messages of “release” in the neuromuscular system, resulting in muscles being restored to optimal length and tone.


Trying to “do release” leads to muscle activity, a contraction, which causes a tightening, shortening and a narrowing of the muscles. It is very important that you don’t do anything to “make release happen” as this will only tighten the muscles.

GUIDE for ACTIVE REST
A carpeted floor or a yoga mat is best, however if you are unable to get down on the floor then a firm bed is a good option.


 A small pile of paperback books is best as support under the head. The height of the books may be 6 - 10 cm depending on how much is needed to create the same head - neck - torso relationship as in the upright position, the head being a counterbalance for the deep neck muscles.


The average book height is 6 - 8 cm for women, and 8 - 10 cm for men.
(If you feel your chin compressing the throat, the support is too high
If your head is tipping back, raise the height)


Take care to avoid pressing your head onto the support


Lie down on your back and with a support under your head.

Bend your knees so that they are pointing toward the ceiling, feet hip width apart. Alternatively you can put your legs up on a chair or couch, with the knees pointing away from each other. 

Place your hands gently on either side of your navel. 


DIRECTIONAL THINKING:
No need to move or DO anything, simply THINK the following or listen to the attached audio file:


Think of your head tilting delicately at the atlanto - occipital joint or nodding joint (axis of rotation is an imaginary rod going through the ears) to provide a counterbalance for the deep neck muscles.


Think of your entire back from your ears to the bottom of the pelvis lengthening and widening on to the floor.


Think of your knees moving up towards the ceiling, away from your hip and ankle joints.


Think of your toes lengthening out to the tips and your feet spreading out onto the floor.


Think of your shoulders widening away from each other.


Think of your elbows moving away from one another, as well as from your shoulder and wrist.


Think of your fingers lengthening out to the tips and palms widening.


Think of the distance (in a diagonal) increasing between your left shoulder and right hip, and between your right shoulder and left hip.


Think of the distance increasing between your navel and the top of your chest.


Keep your eyes open even though it is tempting to close them.

Getting up from Active Rest

Take your time. Roll your head in the direction that you intend to move and roll your knees until you are lying on your side. Pause for a  moment. There are many ways to proceed from here but mainly try to keep your length and use any supports that you need to (if you lie on the floor, sometimes having a chair to hand is helpful so that you can put your hands on the seat of the chair for extra support while you come up onto your knees and then to standing).