Ever find yourself moving throughout your busy without taking a moment to rest? You wake up one morning, knowing you have a busy schedule, and the moment your feet hit the floor from the bed, you're off and running. Typically it's non-stop: get the kids to school, go to work, attend business meetings, a yoga class at noon, more meetings, more deadlines to complete, take the kids to soccer, go grocery shopping, pick up the kids, cook dinner, clean the kitchen, prepare tomorrow's lunches, and MAYBE sit for 30 minutes to catch the evening news. Before you know it, it's 10:30 and you're in bed only to find that you have to get up the next day and do it all over again.
It seems the only time we allow ourselves to rest is when we go to sleep. You've been constantly moving for 15 hours and you only give yourself 6, MAYBE 8 hours of sleep. Are you providing your body and mind enough down-time to recuperate? This home practice reminds us that it is very important to take intentional rest time throughout our busy days.
T.K.V. Desikachar, in "The Heart of Yoga" reminds us to take a much needed rest during dynamic yoga practices and even between poses. "There is no rule to follow regarding rest," he says. "...if we need a rest, we take one." An example is to move into a dynamic posture like an intense backbend (dhanurasana) then into a counter pose like a seated forward fold (pascimatanasana).
Wheel Pose / Bridge Pose
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. Be sure your knees and feet are about hip-distance apart. Your heels should be relatively close to your backside. If you plan to move into a full backbend, Wheel Pose, place your hands up near your shoulders with your fingertips pointing toward your shoulders. If you plan to move into Bridge Pose, simple place your arms along the sides of your body on the floor.
With an intentional exhale, press your lower back into the floor. This will tilt the pelvis and engage your core to support your backbend. With your next exhale, lift your hips into the sky. If you're moving into Wheel Pose, press your hands firmly into the floor with your elbows hugging closely to your head and lift your upper body off the floor until you are in a full backbend. If moving into Bridge Pose, lift the hips on the exhale then squeeze your shoulder blades together underneath you to help support the pose. Hold your backbend for 1 minute or 10-20 breaths.
Slowly and carefully lower yourself down to the floor when you have completed your breaths in the backbend. Lie flat on the floor in Savasana for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Afterward, draw your knees in toward your chest and gently rock yourself up to a seated posture.
Seated Forward Fold
This pose was highlighted in the previous blog entry. Feel free to re-read that entry or proceed from here. Extend your legs straight out in front of you and sit up nice and tall. Extend your arms overhead with an inhale and on your exhale, while hinging from your hips, fold forward bringing your heart closer to your legs. If you're able, reach out and touch your toes. If you are unable to reach your feet, simply rest your hands anywhere on your legs. Hold this pose for 1 minute or 10-20 breaths.
Both of these poses can be intense, but are counter poses to one another. If you start with a forward fold in your home practice, finish with a backbend to help counteract the intensity. More importantly, be sure to rest in between each intense posture. Lying in Savasana (Corpse Pose) is a perfect relaxing posture.
Use this home practice as a reminder that it is important to take intentional rests throughout the day to help counteract the intensity of your busy schedule. For example, before you get out of the car to step into the grocery store, sit in your car for a minute with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing. After sitting at your computer for several hours, stand up and stretch the entire body (perhaps Extended Mountain Pose) to help counter the sitting sensation. Instead of watching the evening news, take a few minutes to practice Candle Gazing (read blog post "Concentration" from March 18th.)
There are many things we can do to counter act the wear and tear of our busy lives. Sometimes it just takes a minute or two to give yourself the gift of restfulness.