In our modern culture, taking time to rest is often contaminated with feelings of guilt, fear of being perceived as lazy, or worrying about time wasted. However, resting might be the one place we can really reclaim our power.
For a long time, notions of power have been tied up in doing, achieving and giving more to others than you do to yourself. Outwardly, you're killing it, whilst your inner sanctum suffers. We can all say the phrase 'you can't pour from an empty cup', but do we really know what it means? There is also the misconception that caring for yourself first is selfish. Of course there is a line that can sometimes be crossed, but we see examples of the importance of tending to yourself first everywhere; take the example of the safety instructions when you're waiting for the plane to take off: 'Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others'.
When we are constantly in a state of doing, we can often get caught up in the illusory whirlwind of life; we spend money recklessly, develop a distorted body image, are at the mercy of comparison with others, define ourselves by scarcity rather than abundance or gratitude, get sick, get addicted to substances, food, money... addicted to being busy.
The rest we need doesn't come in the form of Netflix binges or endless social media scrolling, which often leave us feeling more drained, but rather a new more 'productive' way of resting. Allow me to share some of my favourite mindful resting techniques below:
If you've got 5 minutes...
Sit or lay down comfortably, place your left hand on to your chest and your right hand to your belly. Breathe here for 5 minutes, simply observing the rise and fall of your breath and how, when the breath starts to slow down, so the heart rate decreases. Even in this short amount of time you will enter into a more receptive state, allowing you to feel instantly more balanced.
2. If you've got 15 minutes...
Follow this guided meditation below. You can do this seated or lying down. See this as a brief holiday for your mind as you are guided into the subtle body by my voice.
3. If you've 1+ hrs...
Not everyone can manage more than 5 or 15 minutes, because even with more time spent at home these days, there are still some constraints on your time, for example if you have children, or you're caring for a vulnerable family member etc. Do be mindful, however, if you're unconsciously restricting the time you have by saying yes to too much.
For the deepest and most productive rest you can take, the best thing is Restorative Yoga. Restorative yoga is a floor-based practice that works on re-setting your nervous system from frazzled to feel-good. It is a simple and accessible practice that utilises 'props' (or household items) to let the body rest in a deeply relaxing pose for 5 minutes or more. The effect? Profound relaxation. A really simple restorative pose that I like to do, especially before bed if I am struggling to get to sleep, is 'legs up the wall'. This pose is literally as it sounds, and involves you resting your legs against the wall, sometimes with a folded blanket or towel supporting your pelvis and/or neck, or, if you're like this guy below, you're using your bed.
The real magic of restorative takes place when you can be guided through it for 90+mins. This weekend on Sunday I am leading an online Restorative Yoga workshop 'Rest into Self', through Mudra Yoga London. The workshop is open to all levels and will take place from 3-5pm this Sunday 7th February. Book your place here.