Learning to Rest with Yoga

I am a “doing” person. I was taught at a very young age that “doing” created value and worth. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing things. I love accomplishing things. There is satisfaction and beauty in enjoying the fruits of your labor. There is purpose and love in work. What I didn’t learn was that there is a difference between rest and laziness.

It has taken me many years of doing to learn that rest is part of doing. Just like the simple analogy — Don’t keep your foot on the gas in your car all the time. It will cost you less and last longer, if you turn the car off when you’re not going anywhere! If we run our bodies everyday to their capacity, then injuries, fatigue and other health issues will come up.  And once we begin to run full throttle when we are fatigued or injured, then we are exponentially complicating issues with our body function.

We begin to grip onto stress in order to stay alert, and we have trouble sleeping because that state of alertness becomes our default setting. Our thinking is simplified, altered to reach conclusions quickly because our brains are fatigued. We are simply operating on low power mode.

 

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes . . . including you.   — Anne Lamott

 

It’s easy to work hard. You just grit your teeth and go. The real work is learning when to stop, to slam down on the brakes and just chill. Our bodies actually restore themselves when we rest. They actually rebuild when we rest, not just sit idly. And then, we are able to receive those benefits, once we get back into our “doing” modes again.

Our bodies possess the ability to shut down an overactive stress response. When we rest our heart rate decreases, muscles relax, breathing slows, and blood pressure drops. We do not need to be asleep to be in a resting state. In fact, many people do not rest when they sleep. And wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to rest when we are awake?! Well, we can.

Learning to let the body rest is yoga. We can learn to activate the triggers that tell our bodies it’s time to slow down. And with a little practice, we can train ourselves to remain relaxed. It is a powerful choice to make in our doing-filled lives, to learn how to rest, and then to do it. To use resting as a tool for health and vitality.

Restorative yoga lets your speedometer return to 0 mph. It resets your body, and helps you restore health, mentally and physically. It offers respite, and allows you to find your natural rhythms within the craziness of our world.

A restorative yoga practice helps you:

soothe your nervous system

Slowing down triggers the parasympathetic nervous system from the very first pose in a restorative yoga class. Activating your parasympathetic nervous system helps to mitigate the fight-or-flight stress response and let’s your entire body rest. The overall calming enables your body to digest, tone and heal. Literally, it allows you to heal, by simply resting.

be more aware of your body

Restorative yoga encourages you to simply be in a pose. It does not focus on the outward expression of a pose, but the resting qualities of the pose. The pose allows you to simply be with your body. It cultivates space for a deep experience of simply being in that space. You are then able to be aware of physical sensations and emotions that arise during the restorative practice.

get better sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, then a restorative yoga practice may help you learn how to reset you body so that it will allow itself to rest. Learning to rest can be a challenge, especially if we have been really good at training ourselves to do and overdo things in our lives.

foster acceptance

Restorative yoga delves directly into the no pain-all gain mentality. You learn to accept your body and emotions right where they are. And equally important, your body can restore the biological functioning that it is meant to do. No pain allows the body’s parasympathetic system to do its work. This way, you receive the greatest benefits from your practice, releasing and surrendering to it.

In restorative yoga, you are nurtured. Most of us do not get enough nurturing in our lives. And honestly, it makes us all feel good and safe. And loved. And that too, helps us feel healthier. So, do something good for yourself.  Take a restorative yoga class and learn to rest.  Let your body rest and restore itself. Get some love. And share some too.

Contact me if you’re interested in trying it out and establishing a practice to rest and renew your body and mind. Trust me it is amazing!