Do you think relaxation has to be earned?

Do you ever hear yourself say things like: “I’m so tired, but I gotta keep going…” thereby betraying your body’s clear request for rest?

If you struggle to take it easy in your yoga practice or in life, let me be the first to raise my hand and say: “me too”.

Most of my yogi and non-yogi friends are ambitious people. We are driven and I love that we are showing up in the world with so. much. verve!

But sometimes it’s to our own detriment.

My yogi and non-yogi friends worry that any amount of relaxation will send them sliding down a slippery slope into a structureless free-for-all. They fear that rest will not be beneficial, but will instead lead to:

  • complacency
  • laziness
  • weakness
  • loss of strength, flexibility, mobility
  • missing out on the blissed-out post-yoga feels

I fully admit: I understand and share these fears. But six months of my 40s and more than a decade of practice insists on making its case:

If we don’t rest, our bodies will get our attention and make it happen. On its terms, not ours.

When I don’t rest, my body turns up the volume on all kinds of unsavory sensations. Extreme fatigue. Stress. Overwhelm. Snippiness at my partner. Negative thoughts. Not-enoughness. Worry. Tight shoulders. A daily planner that’s more ink than paper.

This is as much of a reminder to you as it is to me: we are not robots. Our bodies and minds need time to integrate what happens during the waking hours of being human. Bringing big things into the world requires an equal amount of rest and relaxation.

When I feel tired but still want to practice, I try to negotiate deals between full-on effort and lean-back surrender:

  • “Unroll your mat and practice three Sun As and Sun Bs. You can stop there or see how you feel.”
  • “Practice at 50 percent effort instead of 95 percent today. See how that goes. Observe your mind and your body.”
  • “Tell your people that you won’t be in class today, but you look forward to seeing them soon.”
  • “Take a break today and check in again tomorrow.”

A word about final rest: do your best to remain still in savasana (the posture pictured above). Don’t skip it! Rest is an integral part of your yoga practice. If you have a time constraint and need to go, be sure to rest or meditate for 5 minutes later in the day.

I’d love to know: do you struggle with taking rest in your life or in your yoga practice? If so, what are some strategies that can help you when you struggle to remember to rest? Leave a comment below and share it with your yoga community!

Hope to see you soon in yoga class online! Or not… if you need to rest. 😴 😊

XO,

Rachel

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