Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Blankets In Restorative Practice
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Dharma Cloud / Popun, 2011
BLANKETS ARE USED for gentle support [along with blocks and bolsters and chairs and walls] to disengage muscular strength and intense flexibility. There is no end to the number of blankets that might be used in restorative practice. Blankets can be folded and placed under arms extended to the sides of the body for the soft sensory contact that blankets offer.
In addition, and possibly not emphasized, blankets may be intentionally utilized for “swaddling/cradling/bundling/swathing” that may offer a sense of security and calmness.
The use of a blanket to cover the body as well as the addition of several blankets reduces external stimulation. This is not unlike the use of “weighted therapy blankets,” ranging from 10-25 pounds, utilized for a variety of sensory integration/processing disorders [i.e., autism and attention deficit disorders] to reduce sensory stimuli.
Blankets may also facilitate a sense of gentle containment that allows for listening to the body in the longer poses of restorative practice. This is not unlike wrapping the body in spiritual quests that, from a Western perspective, aspire to decrease stimulation down to a few sensations and to focus attention to breath or emerging mental imagery that might offer insight. A yuwipi ceremony is an example of an extremely eloquent Lakota/Sioux spiritual practice that involves wrapping the “yuwipi man” in a quilt, with additional bindings.
Beyond blankets, elastic headbands or scarves, eye pillows, sand bags, weighted balls placed in the upturned palms are other forms of desensitization and containment utilized in restorative yoga. To enhance calmness rather than to increase stimuli, senses may either be restricted or engaged through music and sound and/or fragrance and/or visual focus.
In any body-mind practice, sitting wrapped in a blanket prior to the beginning of practice and/or at the close of practice vs. simply sitting prior to and following a practice session may easily and concretely illustrate the calming effect of a blanket.