If you had asked me 3 years ago to talk about my yoga practice I would tell you that it was mostly a physical practice. I was and still am very proud of all the yoga poses I could perform and I love to teach asana! The physical is so much fun. Getting sweaty in class, breathing deeply, flowing smoothly from pose to pose through vinyasa and exploring all the crazy shapes I could make with my body took me away from all my worries. I found something so special because it made me feel alive!
A yoga practice can do that for you too, but it is not just the poses that create such big waves of transformation and freedom.
It wasn’t easy to detect this at the time, but what I didn’t know was that I was pushing myself too hard for the sake of feeling accomplished. I became determined to learn how to balance upside down, twist my body and move my hips in ways that were out of my reach. I think that the “all play and no rest” philosophy didn’t just show up on my yoga mat, but in my working life and personal life too! Eventually, all the hard work and no rest caught up and I got injured.
With injury comes the gift of time. In the time I spent recovering, I found the joys of being in stillness and how important it is to invest in rest.
Stillness offers an opportunity for introspection, healing, and rejuvenation. It gave me a chance to absorb everything that I had learned and also process it so that I could discriminate between what parts of my practice were life enhancing and which parts were debilitating and energetically depleting.
HERE ARE MY 3 TOP FAVORITE WAYS TO INVEST IN MY REST
-1) Savasana – Corpse pose, though seemingly simple can be quite the challenge for someone who is learning the art of rest. Considered by some to be an advanced yoga pose, all you do is lie down, get comfortable and do nothing. To do nothing, in this current world climate, is so brave, courageous and rebellious!! What a gift it is that at the end of your yoga class, you get to lie down, rest well, be well and simply do nothing. How often do we get this precious opportunity to feel the contrast between rest and being busy? This pose helps to soothe your sympathetic nervous system, rejuvenate your whole body, and refresh your mind.* The next time you are in yoga class or practicing at home, notice if you are savoring the moment of rest. Are you allowing yourself to be present with how you feel when you are resting or are you getting carried away by thinking about the next activity for the day?
-2) Minimalize – Identifying my “needs” v.s my “wants” and embracing them! I’ve learned that living minimally can mean so much more than letting go of material things. It is very empowering and rejuvenating to notice which aspects of life are energetically enhancing, which are depleting and to let go of what is not serving my best and greatest self. Examples of this can be work, food, friends, family, the list goes on. In her article What if all I want is a mediocre life?, Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui says “And to see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, spirit, soul healthy. Am I enough?” The answer is YES!
-3) Meditate – In terms of yoga, meditation is one of three parts that make up a practice (the other being the breath). The word yoga comes from the root word “yuj” – to connect, to unite, or to bring together. Take a few moments of your day to sit down, take a breath and mindfully connect your mind and body through meditation. Here are 3 tips for starting a meditation practice.
*Reference – The woman’s book of yoga and health by Linda Sparrowe