Rest for the Soul

It’s important to be heroic, ambitious, productive, efficient, creative, and progressive, but these qualities don’t necessarily nurture the soul. The soul has different concerns, of equal value: downtime for reflection, conversation, and reverie; beauty that is captivating and pleasuring; relatedness to the environs and to people; and any animal’s rhythm of rest and activity.

~ Thomas Moore

There are so many things that I want to share with my students when I begin to regularly teach yoga.  I want to focus on the ideas of unity, and the already-present Self.  I want to encourage pushing beyond the known boundaries and seeing things in a new way.  Heck, I want to help people get upside down.  But, I also want to assist people in being able to really take rest.  It sounds easy, but it’s something most of us aren’t that good at.

Sure, we sit and “do nothing.”  We waste time playing Words with Friends or surfing the web.  We flip TV channels or page through magazines.  But, even then, we are constantly doing something.  It’s rare to see someone sit quietly just thinking or observing.  In a yoga class, no matter how the instructor introduces the idea of child’s pose, people (including me) struggle against taking it, as if taking rest was a failure in some way.

But, we need that rest.  It is in rest that the body can make repairs and reset systems.  It is in rest that the mind has time to bring the emotions and experiences that we push to the back forward and work through them.  It’s good for us to take rest.

Why do we fight so hard against what we  need?  Some of our resistance to sleep may be that we are truly just so busy that we feel  like we can’t waste even a minute of the day.  It certainly seems that way at times.  But, most of us, if we carefully reflected on how we used our time, would find that we do “waste” a lot of time checking facebook, tweeting, reading (ok, that one might just be me), watching bad TV, etc.  Yet, we hesitate to truly rest.

Given that, it seems that there might be more of a societal impetus at work.  We believe that we must be busy all the time.  Life is so forward directed that we have a feeling that it is imperative to be constantly working toward the next thing or working on something (even if that something is a kick-ass game of scrabble on facebook).

So, yeah, I see part of my job as a yoga teacher to give students permission and opportunity to just sit with themselves.  To be in child’s pose or savasana and be ok with that.  To stand still after a vrksasana (thanks, Micki) and feel the energy be in the legs without needing to shake it away.  To write sentences that are actually fragments and not need to sit on the fingers to fight the urge to correct them.   This will be part of my goal!

If you’ve read this far, go take a rest.  Maybe you could take a blanket outside and just lay in the grass for 15 minutes.  Perhaps it would be good to go “lay across the bed” (that’s a Hoosier-ism for taking a nap when you don’t want to admit that you are napping).  Or, a little time in child’s pose might be just the ticket!  Give you mind, your body, and your soul the rest for which it calls out.

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