Rest is Best

Busy bee - time to rest with yoga
Are you a busy bee?

Busy, busy, busy. Are you addicted to busy? Out here, there and everywhere? Do you ever allow yourself time to rest?

Or, maybe it’s an internalised feeling of busy that you can’t stop, you can’t slow down. A feeling of over-stimulation from all the thoughts and feelings and images and memories and plans.

That’s the busy that gets me. Take my sensitive easily aroused nervous system taking everything  in from my environment and processing it all, and add to it all the thinking and feeling and, blimey, do I need some quiet-time!

Trouble is that quiet-time can become another opportunity for your mind to work on the to-do list can’t it?

So, what’s the answer?

Well, do you know what? I think I’ve found it!

Rest.

And I don’t mean flopping down and zoning out in front of the telly, or having a nap.

The answer: Active Rest

Restorative Yoga Southamtpon
Just rest

I mean active rest.

Hmm, isn’t that a contradiction, I hear you ask?

No, I’m talking Restorative Yoga.

This kind of active rest is making a conscious choice to rest and  then supporting your body completely using blankets, pillows, cushions and/or yoga props , reducing external stimuli, getting yourself warm and quiet and comfy and then just letting yourself be.

I’ve found it to be the answer to over-stimulation and overwhelm.

Restorative Yoga is a calming, quietening yoga practice which brings the body and mind into a state of blissful balance.

By using a variety of supports, the warmth of blankets, creating darkness using an eye pillow and being supported by the ground in this floor-based practice, restorative yoga manipulates the nervous system to come into a state of rest: to move into the parasympathetic response (otherwise known as the body’s “rest, digest & heal” response”).

Mind calming

Restorative Yoga in Eastleigh
Relax, breathe, feel the stillness

Restorative Yoga also calms the mind and emotions – it creates a sense of stillness and safety.

Now believe me when I say I have a REALLY busy mind.

Loads of people tell me I have a relaxed and grounded vibe (“Oh Stella, you’re always so calm!”). And yes I do {usually} thanks to many years of yoga and meditation and self-enquiry and watching my thoughts and choosing to ground.

But my mind is my mind. And, just like yours, it likes to tell stories; to elaborate; to judge; to dream; to catastrophise and to remember.

So, when I went on a five-day Restorative Yoga retreat this summer I did suspect that all that stillness would just give my mind permission to turbo-boost the chattering monkeys in my head!

But, and believe me that no-one was more surprised than me, I found a curious, beautiful stillness arose instead.

And a gentle, tender vulnerability where long-held stories and limiting beliefs arose and faded (with a few healthy, releasing tears).

And I loved it so much that I went back for a 30-hour Teaching Training immersion with the wonderful and wise Adelene Cheong (Senior Assistant to Judith Hanson Lasater,  world-wide authority on Restorative Yoga no less).

A safe space

My experience of Restorative Yoga is that it creates a safe container for long-held physical tensions to release. The kind of tension you didn’t know you were holding on to. (For me it’s been a releasing around the shoulders, neck and base of the skull).

It creates a safe space for emotions and thoughts and feelings to arise and pass through.  You might cry. You might laugh. You might have a realization where a limiting belief has come from. And with joy, gently wave it goodbye.

It’s deep stuff. And takes a certain kind of bravery.

(So you think you have to be fearless to practice a Head Stand in yoga? Pah. That’s nothing.  Try resting in Side-Lying Savasana for 20 minutes as  you finally realize, with a deep sense of self-compassion, where that self-limiting belief came from. Or lying in Supported Bridge Pose as waves of anxiety come up and through and away. THAT’S fearlessness to me!)

Restorative Yoga works with all of our layers of being (the Five Koshas) i.e. the body; energy; feelings & emotions; thoughts & intellect; and equanimity & state of bliss) to bring us into a state of rest and connection and one-ness.

So it is particularly helpful for those of us who experience stress and anxiety and overwhelm.

And it’s a Goddess-send for those of us who are Highly Sensitive – with a nervous system which becomes easily aroused and over-stimulated.

Why?

Here’s the science bit

External stimuli are completely removed. You’re still, pleasantly warm and it’s dark (thanks to the eye pillow).

  • This complete reduction in external stimuli allows the the body to move into parasympathetic nervous system dominance – the relaxation response.
  • Heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, blood sugar levels, sweating all drop.
  • Muscle tension is reduced and released.
  • The levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol drop.
  • Blood flow to the brain is increased.
  • Brain activity becomes slower and more synchronized.
  • Relaxation supports the body’s vital systems – those systems which are responsible for our health and vitality such as the immune system, digestive system, and adrenals.

Restorative Yoga provides an antidote to excessive sympathetic nervous system dominance: chronically being in this state of high-alert causes muscle tension, digestive problems, sleep-disruption and increased blood pressure and sweating.

Give it a go

Restorative Yoga in Eastleigh
Support yourself & rest

You don’t need to have lots of fancy-schmancy yoga props to do this – some rolled up blankets, pillows cushions can work too.

Turn off your phone. Tell everyone you’re not to be disturbed.  Turn the lights down.

Lie down on a yoga mat or blanket.

Bend your knees or put some rolled up blankets beneath your knees or support your lower legs on a sofa.

You could put some cushions under your upper back and head.

Then cover yourself over with a blanket. Put a light scarf over your eyes. Set a timer for 15 minutes. And REST.

Let me show you the restful way

Now, I’ve been teaching some simple restorative yoga this past year or so with my monthly Friday night class and my students have loved it – floating out into the weekend having left their cares behind.

But on reflection that was Restorative Yoga-Lite.

Rest and Restore: Restorative Yoga in HampshireNow I’m ready to share full-fat, luxurious, treat-yourself-because-you’re-so-worth it Restorative Yoga with my Rest and Restore monthly Friday evening class.

My Rest & Restore class offers delicious rest with lots of props to support your body; underfloor heating; and attention from me to help you get really comfortable (spaces are limited to 7).

So come along, make yourself a nest. Rest & Restore yourself back to wellness and wholeness.

YES you do have time.

NO it’s not selfish to do something this good for yourself!

You ARE worth it.


{Bee Photo credit: wolfpix via Foter.com / CC BY-ND}

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