Just like any average New Yorker, events in my calendar are always back to back or double booked. I’m often late, jetting from here to there, usually in some sort of rushed or frenzied state. Perhaps it was that it became too overwhelming, or that I started up my yoga practice again a few months ago, but I began to notice that it was taking a toll not only on me, but also on those around me. I wasn’t always my best self.
In yoga, one usually ends his or her practice with Shavasana pose, or “corpse” pose. After spending an hour or so of life twisting, stretching, contorting and strengthening, the body benefits most from the vinyasas (yoga poses) when it pauses to rest in a horizontal position for about ten minutes. There are lots of great reasons to meditate and relax, but the main purpose of Shavasana is for one to absorb her practice. This is perhaps the ultimate show of compassion to oneself; giving the muscles a chance to relax and feeling the differences in your body in the way it felt when you walked into class (possible tightness, unevenness, imbalance) and the few minutes in Shavasana (for me, Shavasana is usually a mix of muscle fatigue, overall relaxation, physical hunger pangs and a sense of well being).
After having plans this past Saturday that were pushed off until they were cancelled, I started thinking about how revitalizing it was to rest for a few hours and absorb all of the week’s work – both physical and mental work – and how, for once, I began this week more rested than I was at the start of the weekend.
One of the other notable aspects of Shavasana and meditation that ties into life is having the opportunity to reflect. You can either release the mind completely (some yogis even doze off… I can’t say I’m not guilty of that!), or think about your practice: its high and low points, whether you set an intention and whether that intention was carried through. My favorite thing, though, is being able to let go of anything I don’t want to take away from class. If I had a hard time remembering to square my hips in Warrior I, couldn’t hold my balance in tree pose or just had thoughts unrelated to my practice buzzing through my mind, I can let it go. In the same vein, I can bring anything I’d like with me. Last week, I took a spirit of persistence from my practice after trying several times and finally successfully balancing in crow pose for the first time.
While it can be rewarding to be highly productive and socially active, I tend to forget that it’s just as necessary to take a break every now and again. I’m curious: how many of you give yourself the gift of rest? Or, perhaps some of you thrive on always being socially active and would prefer to do without? Maybe some of you rest more often? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts!