Take a Mini-Vacation in Instant Maui Pose

Instant Maui is a comfortable supported restorative pose.

Instant Maui is just what the name implies—a little slice of paradise. It’s the perfect pose to practice when you need a little break from life. It’s a great way to stop time, recharge your batteries, and literally kick your feet up. I love to do this pose during busy times. I really do feel as if I’ve had a mini-vacation.

Instant Maui is one of the most accessible inversions in yoga. With your pelvis elevated and your legs resting on a chair, your heart is higher than your head and your legs are higher than your heart. This stimulates the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) part of the autonomic nervous system to induce calm and well-being.

The support under your spine, with its hammock-like suspension, creates space in your lower back, while the inversion helps to release fatigue, tension, and swelling in the legs, draining lymphatic fluid.

This cooling, calming pose relieves stress and lessens backache and fatigue. Instant Maui is great practice before bedtime to ease insomnia and calm the nervous system.

What You’ll Need for Instant Maui Pose

To set up for the pose, you’ll need the following:

  • Yoga mat
  • Folding chair, regular chair, or couch
  • 1 bolster
  • 1 to 4 blankets
  • Neck pillow (if available)
  • Eye pillow
  • Yoga sandbag (optional)

If you don’t have a bolster, you can use pillows or rolled-up blankets. If you don’t have a sandbag, you can use a bag of rice or other grains.

How to Set Up Instant Maui

  1. Image depicts another view of Instant Maui Pose- a restorative yoga pose supported by many props.

    Start by spreading a yoga mat on the floor. Place a chair at the foot of the mat or bring the mat up to the edge of a couch.

  2. Fold a blanket into a square and place it on the chair, leaving some hanging over the sides/edge to fold over your feet. Taller people may need to add extra blankets on top of the chair so their calves can rest comfortably on the support.
  3. Place a bolster horizontally across the mat, near but not against the legs of the chair or the edge of the couch. The longer your legs are, the further away from the chair legs or edge of the couch the bolster needs to be. Taller people may need to have it as far as a foot away. When you’re in the pose, your thighs should be at a comfortable angle, not straight down from the support.
  4. Place another blanket or neck pillow where your head and neck will rest. If you have extra blankets, fold them in rectangles and place them under each arm, as seen in the photo.

How to Practice Instant Maui

  1. Sit on the middle of the bolster, and swing your legs one at a time, onto the chair. Keeping your pelvis on the bolster, scoot up close to the chair so that your knees rest right at the chair edge.
  2. Place the back of your calves evenly on the chair or couch. If it’s comfortable, your feet can rest against the back of the chair like our model, but people with longer legs will need to take their feet through the opening at the back of the chair in order to have the backs of their knees at the edge of the seat. If your chair has no opening, you can turn it sideways.
  3. Lie back onto the props and ground. Make sure your blanket and neck pillow provides ample support under your head and neck (all the way to your shoulders), so that you can drop your chin and look toward your heart. If your legs aren’t relaxing comfortably on the support, try moving the bolster or adding more blankets under your legs.
  4. Allow your chest to be broad and soft. Extend your arms away from your body, palms up. Allow the backs of your hands to rest on the floor, and let your fingers be soft.

Restorative Instant Maui Pose with a sand bag added for a variation of the pose.

Some Restful Variations

  • Use a stack of two blankets folded into long, thin rectangles instead of a bolster under your hips.  If needed, place additional support under your pelvis.
  • Some people like to place a belt around the calves, below the knees, to keep the legs together. For a grounding sensation, you may also place a weight, such as a sandbag, on your calves, below the knees. You can use both a belt and a weight if desired.
  • For a sense of safety and containment, wrap your feet like pictured below:Image depicts a footwrap made with yoga blankets to use in restorative poses such as Instant Maui.
  • You may also wrap your hands in blankets or towels and support your arms and hands, with your wrists and hands elevated.
  • You can also cover your entire body with a blanket for added warmth, as well as a sense of safety and containment.
  • If desired, use eye pillows in the palms of your hands to add extra weight and grounding.

Instant Maui Restorative Pose with footwrap variation.

Practicing Instant Maui

  1. Allow your body to soften, melting into the places it makes contact with the floor or a prop. Simply let go and release into the support.
  2. After some time, bring your attention to your breath. Simply notice the natural flow of the breath coming in and going out.
  3. Later, observe your breath and focus on filling your lungs evenly, right and left. As you inhale, consciously expand your chest both upward and outward. As you exhale, release the breath slowly and smoothly. Breath awareness will have a soothing and calming effect on your nervous system.
  4. Continue to soften your heart, ribs, and belly. Let your legs rest on the chair and your pelvis float. Anchor your awareness in the sensations in your body by following the breath as it moves in and out, finding stillness as you open and expand into the pose.
  5. Allow yourself to feel a sense of gratitude and acceptance. If there is any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose or take a variation.
  6. Stay for 10 to 20 minutes. When you’re ready to come out, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the chair seat. Let the sandbag slide off or loosen the yoga strap if you are practicing those variations. Rest with your feet on the chair or couch until you feel ready to bring them off the chair onto the ground.
  7. Then scoot away from the chair or couch and slide your pelvis and hips off the bolster so you are lying flat.
  8. With bent knees, roll onto your right side and rest for a few minutes. Enjoy some quiet breaths before coming up slowly, head last.

Instant Maui is the perfect gift to give yourself—and others when you’re feeling agitated or overstressed. You will feel rejuvenated and refreshed in body and mind.

Reprinted with permission from Leza Lowitz/Yoga for Times of Change.
leza lowitz

Leza Lowitz is a California girl who lives in Tokyo. Always willing to go to any length and travel any distance to discover who she was and how to be happy, she met her soulmate at a jazz club in Yokohama and moved to Japan to be with him. Ten years later, Leza and Shogo undertook the crazy project of opening a yoga studio in Tokyo. Three years after that, they adopted a beautiful boy and rescued two dogs, starting a family in their mid-forties.

For over two decades, Leza has been bringing together the worlds of yoga and creativity at her popular yoga studio, Sun and Moon Yoga, and in over twenty best-selling books. Originally from San Francisco, she studied meditation, yoga, and healing for over 35 years and taught for over 25. Lowitz credits her yoga and meditation practice with deepening her creativity, discipline, and compassion. She considers yoga and writing to be life-saving tonics that offer amazing self-discovery experiences, love, joy, creativity, and community. 

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