Rest with Restorative Yoga.
Sounds so simple, right?
But when I’m feeling taxed or overwhelmed or run down, my go-to is lay on the couch and binge on home makeover or cooking shows. Or I’ll catch myself doom scrolling the socials. Especially lately with so much drama in the political landscape these days!
But you know what? That stuff NEVER makes me feel rejuvenated.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, an internal medicine doctor based in Alabama, wrote a fantastic book a few years ago called Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity. (This book was recommended by a friend who is deeply connected to her Christian faith and Dr. Dalton-Smith writes from a Christian perspective and includes biblical scripture in her writing.)
She writes about how we are good at staying busy but we aren’t very good at *resting*. She goes on to outline the 7 types of rest that we need as humans:
- Physical Rest
- Mental Rest
- Social Rest
- Creative Rest
- Emotional Rest
- Spiritual Rest
- Sensory Rest
When I consider this list, it’s easy to see why laying on the couch binge watching home makeover shows or doom scrolling on the socials doesn’t make me feel rejuvenated.
But do you know what does make me feel rejuvenated?
Restorative Yoga and it’s because the practice allows us to rest in all seven of these ways enumerated in Dr. Dalton-Smith’s book.
Restorative Yoga is a physical rest for the body.
First, have you ever been so tired, so deeply fatigued, that you desperately to go to sleep but aren’t able to sleep because you body simply can’t get comfortable?
Comfort is one of the main aims of Restorative Yoga postures. If you are able to attend to the body’s physical discomforts, rest and good quality sleep by extension, is available.
This is an opportunity for mental rest.
Reading the news (or perhaps more accurately reading the reactions my friends are having to the news) has a way of churning up the mind space. It’s the opposite of settling and restful!
When we pause and rest the physical body in a comfortable place, we are closing ourselves off to the mental stimulation and providing an opportunity to pause from problem solving.
Rest from social interactions.
Social interactions have been looking really different than perform in our social distant COVID world. It’s always about finding a balance between outward focused social engagement and managing the relationships of the people you see everyday. When we pull away to be with ourselves in a Restorative Yoga pose, we take a rest from social engagement in all of its forms. We have a chance to develop our relationship with ourselves.
Take a pause from the requirement to create.
Much to the delight of many, COVID has required us to be more creative than ever in nearly every aspect of our lives. Because it’s not been business as usual for a long time now, we’ve been in a state of innovation for far longer than is typical. Everything from how we do our work, to how we participate in our hobbies, and to how we exercise and eat has been impacted. Restorative Yoga allows us just to be without having to invent or create anything at all.
Have you found a space for emotional rest?
Never can I remember a time when the our emotional range as humans has been tested quite so much.
I’ve been doing a lot of studying with Cyndi Lee lately and I’ve been particularly inspired by the writings of Pema Chodron, whose books we’ve been assigned to read. Chodron writes about using our meditation practice to connect to the energy of emotions. If we can connect to the energy of our emotions instead of the emotion itself, we can harness that energy and use it for other things.
Restorative Yoga is the perfect practice for cultivating this kind of relationship with our emotional self.
Restorative Yoga is a refuge for our spirit.
While Dr. Dalton-Smith is writing about spiritual rest as a re-engagement with Christianity, Restorative Yoga offers us a refuge for our spirit that is not necessarily tied to a particular religion.
Yoga in all of its styles and forms is concerned with the state of human spirit. While it’s easy to focus on the physical aspects of our posture work and even the mental clarity that we gain from meditation practices, yoga is a spiritual practice at its core.
The senses need a break!
Pratyahara is a practice in yoga of withdrawing from the information we receive from our senses. It’s a practice that leads us to a meditative state.
Restorative Yoga invites us a pull inward a way from the sensations, sights, smells, sounds, and tastes that trigger our mind’s spinning. We don’t have to be aiming for meditation to feel the benefits of this kind of pause.
Ready to experience this for yourself?
I’m thrilled to be leading a 50-hour Restorative Yoga Teacher Training at Roots & River Yoga starting in February. There are 6 spots available in person (with lots of COVID precautions in place) and many more spots available to tune in live-streaming. Check out all of the details.
Hope to see you soon!