“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
I was speaking with one of my yoga therapy clients during our session the other day, reflecting on the learnings she’d had from a recent injury.
For weeks now she hasn’t been able to walk due to a cast on her ankle. After the limitations of being wheelchair bound for some time, and then hobbling along on crutches, a realisation has come regarding the easy joy of being able to walk freely. How much this simple act had not been seen for the miracle that it is.
Another client, who is working with debilitating foot pain, has had this realisation as well. Where walking was once a means to an end – exercise, getting from point A to B, feet just carrying her body around to do the stuff she wanted to do – now she realises how precious simple pain-free walking was.
I had this same experience about five years ago when I dealt for several months with the most excruciating foot pain, like knives stabbing me every time I stood on my feet. Walking was a painful and arduous chore.
For me, since then (and full recovery), I often reflect on the preciousness of this human body in which I live. How it offers me such agency and freedom to access my world. Walking pain-free is noticed regularly now, and with great thankfulness.
One of my most influential yoga teachers and mentors, Judith Hanson Lasater wrote the following poem recently, that speaks to me of the incredibleness of this body-house (or as some would say – body–temple) that we are privileged to have for this sojourn on earth.
“Sweet soft body that carries my radiant soul,
I do not thank you enough.
I do not enjoy you enough.
I do not cherish you enough.
More and more now I feel an upwelling of gratitude for all you have given me.
For the ability to dance, to laugh, to weep, and to inwardly soar with the beauty of this world.
For three babies, plump and juicy and full of spontaneous joy and curiosity for this miraculous life.
For a heart, that has been broken and mended more than once.
For the delicious taste of love.
For the many chances I have had to make mistakes and then try to learn from them.
Dear Body you are the true companion of my life, the vessel of my wonder, the holder of my felt intrinsic wisdom, the container of my sacred Self.
I have studied with Judith several times and through her learned the art of Restorative Yoga. This practice is to me one of the greatest and sweetest gifts I can give to not only my body, but my heart and mind as well.
I call Restorative Yoga the ‘ultimate balance practice’. It counters the constant drive inside us in this busy western society we live in – to be busy, to be productive, to always have something on the go. In this way our lives go by in a blur of busy activity, and our bodies pay the price of often being neglected for the rest they actually need.
You may think sleep is rest. Of course it is! Yet disturbed sleep patterns are more and more the norm as busy minds wake us up at night, and sleep becomes a tattered piece-meal affair. Why is this so? Revved up nervous systems from constantly being on the go! Trying to balance this all out with the ‘relaxations’ of eating and drinking and watching Netflix. Is this relaxation? In certain situations yes. But I think everyone knows that to some degree, there is a craving that’s just not being satisfied by any of these strategies.
Our bodies and minds and hearts need quiet and stillness. In this space they are honoured for the amazing gifts of movement, feeling, and thinking we use so freely – until something breaks down and we can’t. If your motor car were revved continually from the moment you switched it on, the engine would not last long. And as our society becomes more revved up than ever, that sense of peace and wellbeing we seek moves further away.
For me, these days, I surrender to the urge to rest, regularly. I will lay me down to rest – on my mat, with a blanket under my head and my legs up on some bolsters and simply let go. Drift. Breath. Notice. It feels divine. After 20 or so minutes, up I go and energy feels renewed.
A regular practice of Restorative Yoga is a time to let go, surrender, and most of all, listen to your heart’s deepest insights that arise out of this quiet place. While you rest, your body goes into healing mode – blood pressure lowers, stress hormones decrease, breathing regulates, and a whole range of organ function is enhanced by the simple supported poses that you relax into. You will sleep well that night. But most of all, moving into quiet gives space for the mind and heart’s creative impulse. New insight and direction for life choices often emerge out of this space.
On Sunday 17 February, I am offering a 2 hour ‘Sweet Restorative Yoga Session’ from 1-3pm in Willunga. Two hours may seem a long time to rest in the middle of the day. But I assure you – for busy lives, revved-up and stressed nervous systems, tired bodies and minds that never stop – this is a minimum requirement to bring some balance that will resound through the following days like a sweet tender song. You’ve been kind to yourself, you’ve said ‘thank you’ to your dear body, heart and mind.
So give your body a gift of recognition – for its preciousness, for all it offers you. Give your heart and mind space to step away from the busy flow of your life. This session awaits you.