Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
My Favourite Forms of Rest
Have you been feeling a bit low on energy lately? Have you been struggling to get your work done, or roll out the mat, or actually do your practice once it's rolled out? What did you call that state?
It's easy to get confused and judgemental about your inner states. Especially if you are trying to somehow justify the way that you feel.
In yoga, there is a word "viveka", or discernment. With yoga and meditation we are actually aiming to create more of that discernment - clarity - to be able to adequately reflect on our lives, and make some tweaks if needed.
We all get tired sometimes, even the enthusiastic overachievers and super humans. And we tend to label ourselves lazy, feel bad about it, and then get back to work instead of actually giving ourselves a chance to rest and re-charge. The real reason behind low energy or drive might be tiredness, or even complete exhaustion which we haven't addressed in a very long time.
But how do you address such deep tiredness that just doesn't go away?
First of all, sit down with yourself, eliminate self-judgement, and take a moment for an honest reflection about what's really going on.
- Have you just had a new baby, changed your job, started a business, moved house or gone through a big shift or transition? Or has nothing changed on the outside, and you're just feeling drained?
- Have you been having difficulty falling asleep, or suffered from interrupted sleep, waking up in the morning tired?
- Have you been working long hours and simply didn't have enough hours in a day to rest and recharge?
- Are you struggling with jet lag, or business travel related exhaustion?
- Have you been worried or anxious about something in your life, that you just can't seem to be able to get out of your head?
- Are you dealing with chronic pain or a chronic physical condition that just drains you?
If any of these are a "yes", how have you been addressing your needs though this transition, situation or challenge? Have you actually even thought of addressing it and finding time for yourself and your self-care practices?
If not, it's time to look into it and figure out what kind of rest is needed for you right now, and will make the most noticeable impact.
I've been researching and experimenting with a variety of approaches to rest, and would love to share some of my favourite findings.
Best ways to offer yourself physical rest
- Restorative yoga
- Yin Yoga
- Long slow non-competitive non-athletic walks in nature
- Yoga nidra
- Right nutrition to make your digestive system work less hard (think alkalising diet rich in oxygen or a diet that has been prescribed for you by a nutritionist or an Ayurvedic practitioner)
- Saltwater flotation pool
- Massage / acupuncture / zone therapy / fascial stretch therapy
- Epson salts bath
- Yoga retreats with a restorative quality
Best ways to offer yourself mental rest
- Less analytical activity / less overthinking / less overworking / less screen time
- Yoga Nidra
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Meditation - any style or tradition that resonates with you
- Quality time with close people
- Nature in all shapes or forms and activities outdoors
- Creative activity with no specific goal or outcome like playing an instrument or visual creativity not involving displays or devices
- Yoga retreats, especially more active kind
Note that I have listed both active and passive practices. I do believe that for true wellbeing we need both: activity and rest. We need the core workouts just as much as we need yoga nidra. We need to challenge our cardio just as much as we need adequate and quality sleep.
Which way your is balance tilting? Are you already doing a lot of restful yoga but resisting the active practices? Or are you pushing yourself so hard that you are completely forgetting the importance of rest?
Remember to reflect on this every once in a while, and to find just the right amount of both yin and yang in your life.