Don’t Skip Savasana!! (And other ways you should actively Chill Out)…
When’s the last time you took a deep breath that soothed your entire being? The last time you slowed down on purpose? The last time you remember feeling fully restored?
If lifelong health is something you’re seeking, these are important questions to ask yourself.
Getting proper rest can help you to manage and balance your energy levels, maintain mental clarity, recover after workouts, effectively reduce inflammation, transform your digestive health, and more!!
Resting properly means more than just sleeping 8 hours a night. Rest and recovery is an active process that requires deep listening and mindful attentiveness- it is the process of slowing down enough so that you actually can tune into your breath, your thoughts, and your sensations… It means staying for savasana at the end of a yoga class, taking a 10 minute meditation break during your busy work day, eating mindfully without your cellphone to distract you, and doing a few soothing yoga postures to help your body rest without tension at the end of the day.
If you’ve ever tried to slow down on purpose, you may have found that it’s actually pretty darn challenging. But like all things, with practice comes improvement.
Below you’ll find my favorite ways to Rest and Restore my Body and Mind:
1. Don’t Skip Savasana!
We often associate working out to our max with gaining health, perfecting our bodies and getting out toxins. But rest and recovery are equally important… Resting not only helps the body and mind to be in peace, but helps both to actively recover and assimilate the benefits of your more intense physical practice… Savasana is the perfect example of active rest. After practice, we honor the work we’ve done and we allow the body to reap the rewards of our effort. It is a way to say “thank you” to the body, a way to give it time to soak in the goodness, and an opportunity to let the mind be quiet. For many, it’s the only time of their day to completely let go. So, next time you’re thinking of skipping out on savasana, don’t do it! It’s well worth the extra 5-10 minutes of your time.
2. Put Your Feet Up
Put your feet up! One of my favorite ways to relax my body after a full day of activity is to gently invert. Our feet carry much tension within them, especially after standing, walking, and even sitting all day. Putting your feet up not only helps to ease the tension of the feet and legs, but helps to regulate blood flow and the flow of lymphatic fluids. It also gives a sense of ease and serenity to the body and mind, literally making that “Ahhhhhh” feeling come alive. So, next time you’re exhausted, sore, fatigued or grumpy, put your feet up 🙂 Try Viparita Karani (legs all the way up the wall), or simply rest your feet above your hips on the couch.
Here is a more enhanced version of Legs Up The Wall Pose, or Viparita Karani. To intensify the sensation and benefit, lift your hips with a bolster and add a little weight on top of the feet. This version offers the additional benefit of lifting the hips above the line of the heart and head, giving a greater boost to your circulation and the flow of lymphatic fluids. Don’t forget the most important part: relax and breathe!
3. The Pose of A Child
Balasana, the Pose of A Child. One of my all time favorites! This posture not only calms the nervous system and relaxes major points of tension in the hips and spine, but regulates the heart rate circulation, gently massages the internal organs and promotes full, luscious breathing. This supported version adds in relief to the neck and shoulders, and also allows those with less hip flexibility to rest in the pose with ease. Try it for 5 minutes before bed, or before your workout to begin feeling the flow of oxygen through your body. Notice how you feel before, during, and after the pose.
4. Take A Walk
Every night, my favorite way to decompress is to take my dogi Yogi for a walk. Not only does it get his wiggles out, it soothes me completely. Being in nature satisfies our human need to connect to the Earth, and to ourselves. It offers me time to let my thoughts go as I focus on the simple things- the color of the flowers, the light shining through the trees, the crispness of the fresh sea breeze. Studies have proven that being outdoors provides a slew of health benefits, like: grounding (to receive the negative ions from the Earth- go barefoot!), improved sleep, better eyesight, and enhanced physiological and psychological wellbeing. Even just a 20 minute walk a day will do!
5. Go Within
Taking the time to go within is, I think, the most important thing one can do for herself. Over the year, it is what has kept me self aware and less affected by challenges and toxins. It is in the process of meditation that my mind and body relax so that I can observe the habitual feelings and thoughts that arise, follow the flow of my breath in and out of my body, notice if I body wants to fidget or if I can relax completely in the process…There really is so much to observe, that it may not actually feel very relaxing at first! But over time, with patience, with ease and with respect for Self, there is a beautiful quietude that arises, almost spontaneously. It is here where the greatest rest and restoration takes place within.