When is the last time you allowed yourself to fully rest and restore?
Ok, ok. Many of us have a long list of reasons why we don’t rest very well, or at all. At times we may feel undeserving or guilty about taking time for ourselves. Juggling lots of projects, we may have too much on our plate and think we ‘can’t afford to do so.’ But actually these sentiments just might be the biggest indicators that it is high time to do some serious rest & relaxation!
Resting properly and regularly is key for our health. Personal and cultural ideas about rest and relaxation (aka R&R) abound. Once we begin examining our relationship with R & R and understanding the vital important role they play in our individual and societal wellbeing, we can begin to prioritize the practice of resting, and find ways to incorporate it into our busy lives.
Too often our fast-paced, modern cultures tend to reward activity-packed days & hyperactive lifestyles, as we focus on maximizing productivity. Our collective attitude is to work hard to succeed. This mentality often spills over into our approach to wellness. We value high-impact exercise to stay in shape. While active exercises have so many wonderful benefits like strengthening the body and releasing endorphins in the brain, to truly benefit from such activities we need to be well-rested in different ways. Studies have shown that we can literally adjust the biological age of our body, but these benefits depend on complementing fitness activities with restorative relaxation.
It is important to complement hard workouts with slower, gentler activities. And occasionally take a break from activities altogether!
Truly resting does not mean just getting “enough sleep.” Real rest is about allowing the mind to relax beyond restoring the body. Allowing yourself to exist in silence, relaxation. To simply be.
We know how vital nutrition and exercise are for our wellness, but what about removing the taboo about rest and relaxation, which are just as important for our physical and mental health? Essentially, we must emphasize the practice of rest.
Even within the world of yoga, restful practices are sometimes overlooked by yoga studios, teachers, and practitioners alike. Maybe we feel guilty or too hurried to slow down. Or we may think we “don’t have enough time” for savasana at the end of yoga class, or to take 5 minutes to meditate in the morning. Some of yoga’s most powerful tools include meditation, pranayama (breathing practices), yin & restorative yoga styles, which promote inner wellbeing beyond outer transformation. Another wonderful method to practice complete rest is through yoga nidra, an ancient practice, also known as yogic sleep, which is a form of meditation that results in conscious deep sleep.
Ultimately resting is personal. No matter which method we choose, we can all improve our relationship with rest through self-study. If we allow ourselves permission to rest in a balanced, healthy way, we can promote a culture of rest for collective wellbeing.
Shifting our perspective and normalizing R & R in daily life from something we should earn to something we all deserve. By devoting less of our time and energy to completing our endless to-do lists and more to sacred ‘not-do anything’ time. Though we might initially feel we are stealing away from potential productivity, in the long run resting properly – both regularly and intentionally – actually increases our wellbeing and ability to be more productive, rather than burning out. We can use this great irony to move past justifying rest and begin celebrating its value in our day-to day.
Are you interested in pursuing rest as a spiritual practice, but are not sure how to begin? Here are some steps to start practicing deep resting with intention. Another powerful option is to come join us on retreat. Giving yourself the gift of time and space to practice resting outside of your usual distractions, you can begin through yoga nidra and develop intentions to the practice in your home routine.