Hitting pause on your internal "to-do" list and dropping into a restorative yoga pose can be a deeply soothing experience, especially when you find yourself short on time, yet in need of a reset. Most restorative poses can work as stand-alone postures (no warm-up required!) with the additional benefit of leaving you feeling a little more relaxed and comforted in ten minutes or less.
However, restorative yoga can seem a bit intimidating at first glance. Not because these asanas are physically demanding, but mainly because there can be so many props involved. Sometimes it feels like there's way too much to remember and prepare for, and all for just one little pose. Being still can also feel quite challenging for some people. While kicking back with a glass of wine and watching Netflix might seem like less of a hassle (and yes, sometimes that just might be the right thing to do!), a restorative practice is worth it, I promise.
Maybe you've contemplated incorporating a restorative practice into your daily yoga routine. Perhaps you're a regular restorative yogi looking for a new "this pose makes me kinda sleepy (and-I-like-it)" asana index. No matter where you're coming from, whether you're a restorative newbie, a restorative regular, or somewhere in between, I'd love to share a particularly cozy pose with you called "nesty savasana." I'll guide you through—step by step (blanket by blanket!).
I first discovered "nesty savasana" at a restorative yoga weekend workshop with Anamargret Sanchez. I later discovered that Sanchez first learned it from Judith Hanson Lasater (author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times), who originally called it “side-lying savasana.” Sanchez's nickname for it (nesty savasana, of course) came to her after practicing this pose herself, as it reminded her of a “cozy bird’s nest.”
Sanchez's nickname for it (nesty savasana, of course) came to her after practicing this pose herself, as it reminded her of a “cozy bird’s nest.”
You'll probably learn the majority of nesty savasana's (or side-lying savasana's) benefits simply from practicing it. For me, it inspires a sweet, child-like quality—mainly because in this pose (as you'll learn), you get to hug a bolster. (No matter what, I'm usually reminded rather instantly of what it felt like to be a kid, falling asleep with my favorite teddy bear.)
According to Sanchez, nesty savasana can be a comfortable practice for almost anyone, and it's great for people who aren't normally able to practice supine savasana (like pregnant women or anyone who feels uncomfortable lying face-up for long periods of time). Emotionally, it can provide a sense of safety: "In the nest you're snuggled in; you're in your very own cocoon. It doesn't get much better than that," says Sanchez.
You’ll need up to five blankets, one block, a mat, and a bolster. If you don’t have all of these items you can always get creative. Try using towels instead of blankets, a few thick books instead of a block, or a sofa cushion instead of a bolster. The goal is comfort, and it really won’t matter what tools you use to get there.
I recommend practicing nesty savasana (and any restorative pose) in an uncluttered room, wearing your most comfy clothing. Bring a timer along too. You can use your smartphone, or an egg timer (how appropriate for your nest!), set for 10 to 15 minutes.
Okay, enough introduction, right? Gather your props and let's get started.
Set Your Foundational Props. Remember, you'll be lying on your side, so set yourself up according to the side you want to lie on. I'd suggest placing your mat against a wall lengthwise so that you have a little extra support behind you. Fold a couple blankets into squares, as thinly or thickly as you prefer, and place them at the top of your mat (where your head will be). Next, roll a blanket and place it against the wall (where your back will be). Have another blanket (folded into a square) at the ready for step two.
Lie Down. Okay, it just get's better and better from here. Have a block and that extra folded blanket nearby. Lie down on your side and rest your head on the yogi-pillow you created, and feel your back cushioned by the rolled blanket at the wall. Take the folded blanket you prepared earlier and place it between your legs for extra comfort. Next, take your block and place it a few inches in front of your chest at its highest height, and position your bolster on top of it (lengthwise, so that the top end of the bolster is resting on the top of the block).
Nestle In. Hug your bolster with both arms. If a friend is available to assist you, you can ask them to drape another blanket over you for added warmth. Stay here for 10 to 15 minutes, as suggested. You don't have to practice this pose on the opposite side of your body, but you can if you like.
That's it: three steps! You can incorporate this pose into a full restorative sequence or work with it as a stand-alone pose. Once you're done, go ahead and have that glass of wine if you want, watch your favorite show, and coo like a little bird.