I’ve been teaching more yoga lately and recently I taught a class where the theme was: Rest & Play. These are two things we don’t get to do nearly as much as we should in life. So we do them in yoga. And in yoga, we become convinced of their value and we learn how to do them in life. At least, that’s the idea!
I started the class with the students in Savasana. This time my students accepted it but there are classes I start in Savasana where the students look around bewildered and reluctantly lie down only to fidget through the precious five minutes I have given them to rest.
As a culture, we are so disdainful of rest. We brag about being able to get by only only 5 hours of sleep or about working through lunch. We are busy and we do not have time for rest!
But what happens when you don’t rest? You don’t digest. You don’t heal. You don’t give your body a chance to say – phew, finally a minute where I can look around and take stock of what needs to be fixed and fix it! Lack of sleep has been linked to all kinds of health problems from weight gain to depression to poor cognition to faster aging!
As a yogi, I think it goes deeper than the physical and cellular levels, though. Don’t get me wrong – by all means, get enough sleep. Sleep is so important.
But Savasana is a different kind of rest. It is a CONSCIOUS rest. A time to let the energy in the body be purified. A time to let the mind just be without giving it over to either dreams OR daydreams.
It is a time to say to your precious body and mind – you do so much, you work so hard. I see that. I appreciate it. I do not take it for granted. Please. Rest.
In Savasana you give yourself total, utter, loving permission to completely, totally relax and let go. To rest. Like really, really rest. Not lie down for ten minutes and listen to your brain scream to-do tasks at you.
I firmly believe that if we take 5 or 10 minutes to rest WITH PERMISSION and INTENTION we change EVERYTHING. All of our tasks go faster and our work is of higher quality. We are stronger and more focused. That rest actually boosts your productivity in the long run.
But the key is not just to rest. It is to rest WELL. To have QUALITY rest. And quality rest begins with giving ourselves true permission and truly believing that we are doing something of true importance and value.
When we do Savasana before a practice, we set the stage for that practice to be stronger, deeper and to come from a more purified place. When we do Savasana after a practice, we allow the body and mind to process all the energies we have stirred up.
I encourage you to begin experimenting with the radical practice of taking a rest. A real one. A savasana. On a regular basis. And let me know how it goes in the comments! 🙂