The Importance of Rest

The other day, all of my students in yoga class were plopped, sprawled, and splayed upon the floor. They had managed to get themselves into the studio, take off their baby-1266117_640shoes, unroll their mats, and collapse. It was like dominos. One of them on the floor gave the rest permission to admit the truth: they were exhausted! Half the class had just had their first day back to school after spring break. The other half had just had their first day of spring break, and in both cases, they were spent. Riding horses all day, playing video games, sitting in class, even one girl who had been on a field trip to see Jack and the Beanstalk performed on stage. These children had been going nonstop since the morning. And all they actually wanted to do was to lie on the floor.

How many of us live our entire lives like this?  Go, go go! We often get caught in the false assumption that when we do nothing, we are wasting time. There’s so much to do! If you are tired, then drink some coffee! Do a handstand! Find energy and keep on going. But what has happened to the wisdom of listening to our bodies? And of letting our children listen to theirs?

Where I live, there’s a lot of pressure on children to succeed. It’s a fast-paced, start-up, technology driven culture, where learning is aggressive, money is the only measure of worthiness, and most people don’t have time- especially for taking care of themselves. And I see the effects of this in the children I teach (and in the parents I connect with).

22233514565_1fd2099780_zThe true teachings of yoga invite us to find the union of mind and body, to learn to pay attention to our minds and bodies, and to measure our worth based on our inherent and fundamental qualities rather than on external factors. Our society is leaning more and more away from the wisdom of these teachings, and soon we’ll all be sprawled, flayed, and flopped across the ground- unable to do anything to help ourselves or others!

In spite of having a few doubts about how the parents might react if they were paying for a chance for their kids to lie on the floor, I let them. We did a bunch of relaxing floor poses, stayed in a restorative twist, and slowly got our bodies moving and standing. It was low key and we practiced finding the ease in each pose. Yoga teaches us about strength and ease together. We can’t just muscle through.

I encourage you to find ways to rest- alone or with your family.

– Prop yourself up on a yoga bolster (or pillows or couch cushions), laying back in a restorative heart opener, and relax all your limbs. Play some relaxing music and take deep breaths.

– Take mini-savasanas throughout the day, like during homework sessions, after a lot of activity, before dinner, etc.22574108122_084ebdf36e_z

– Schedule time to do nothing. No agenda, no requirements. Just be where you are. Sit if you feel like sitting, lie down if you feel like that.


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