Monday, 4 April 2016

Lessons from yoga - take rests when you need to

All of nature has rest periods.  Trees shed their leaves in autumn and enter a period of dormancy.  The grass stops growing (much to my relief - mowing is not my favourite activity!!!) and many animals hibernate.  Traditionally the winter would be more restful for people too - without electric lights to artificially lengthen the day, people would sleep more and there would be little to do on the land.  

These days we are more out of touch with the rhythms of the seasons and with our own bodies.  We push through feelings of tiredness, knowing we should rest.  Rest is important as I found out the hard way many years ago.  I was half way through the year studying for a degree in science when my husband had a heart attack.  My children were young and on their summer long break. That year I had decided to take an extra course to complete my degree earlier.  The only way to fit in hospital visits, entertaining the children, cooking etc was to study into the night. Surviving on just four hours sleep each night, I made it to my end of year exams.  Time to relax? Just after my exams I succumbed to pneumonia - my body was letting me know in no uncertain terms that it did not like the treatment I was giving it.  

Rest allows your body to repair itself, rejuvenating your body and mind.  Not enough rest therefore can lead to stress, impaired immunity, impaired learning and memory, irritable mood and even weight gain.

Even in our yoga practice there are days when an energetic sequence does not feel right for the needs of our body. Even if you do decide to do a more energetic practice, be sure to take rests when you need to. For those days when you need a more restful practice restorative yoga is ideal.

Restorative yoga uses props to allow the body to open slowly without strain.  In the video, I am using a bolster but if you do not have one a rolled up blanket will be fine.The poses are held for a few minutes to allow for this.  While you are holding the poses tune into your breath or the sensations in your body rather than letting your 'monkey' mind take over .  In this way restorative yoga increases mindfulness and reduces stress.  In turn this can boost immunity and allow for better sleep.

Please see the yoga video on my YouTube Channel-'Lessons from yoga - take rests when you need to' -

Janet x

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