The Necessity of Stillness

What if we took as much care with our rest as we did with say, our diet?

I’ve just completed day 1 (of 5) of the Relax and Renew restorative yoga training intensive with Judith Hanson Lasater in London. This question came up near the beginning of the day.

Often, as yogis we may put special effort into taking time over whether we are eating organically. Or gluten slash wheat slash dairy free. Or thinking about what foods to eat to give us more energy – will this or that new product do that for us?

But if what if we just rested instead?

Often we are our own worst enemies as we don’t give ourselves permission to be still. We don’t have time. We are so busy. We see taking that time out as being lazy.

We talked today about how a great deal of what is beneficial about this form of yoga is that people are still. In what other place in our lives are we truly given permission to be still?

It’s true that at times restorative yoga is seen as not ‘real yoga’, (because it looks as though you are not ‘doing’ very much) or as being for people who are new to yoga. But really it’s for everyone. After all, who isn’t stressed? (And therefore, in need of physiological relaxation.)

If you’re tired it’s hard to be compassionate towards the people around us, let alone towards ourselves. Hands up who gets tetchy or lacks the ability to focus and be present when they are tired?

As was discussed today, if your life is frantic, your practice will have that vibration. And as a teacher, if you are caught up in a frantic state then that veneer of ‘frantic’ can come across in your teaching.

That hit a nerve.

I know as a student that I have often enough picked up on that kind of frantic energy from the teacher leading a class. My life is pretty frantic at the moment and I am doing some re-assessing as a result, so this topic today really resonated with me.

I know I don’t get enough rest. I know I am stressed. I know I am sleep deprived. Who’s with me? Probably almost anyone who is breathing!

So what if we started to see rest as the necessity that it is instead of a luxury, or as being lazy? Yes, it will take practise (for some of us, a lot of practise). But we can make a start. And we can try to remember to be kind to ourselves along the way.

I am so grateful to be doing this course at this particular time, deepening my knowledge of a form of yoga that I know has and continues to benefit me. I feel especially excited at the prospect of being able to share what I am learning with others. What a privilege.

I Love yoga! And I am loving that the learning never stops.

Happily Unrealistic

“Life is a series of leaps”
Suzy Greaves*

I had genuinely forgotten it was a leap year until I heard a conversation about it on the radio. Usually, when a leap year comes around I’m thinking I can’t believe how time has flown by. For the first time in a long while I feel surprised by how much has changed. (Thankfully, for the better – not that those changes always felt as though they were for the better at the time).

If you had told me on Feb 29th four years ago that I would basically be working for myself I am not sure I would have bought it. I had a ‘safe’ job with a regular salary for a long time. And as appealing as the idea of working for myself seemed, it felt like too big a leap to make. Not realistic. Waaay too scary. How would I pay the mortgage?! But then I thought back and remembered when I had wondered if writing was too big a leap, yet there I was being paid to write. And before that when I wondered if working in TV was too big a leap, yet there I was working in TV. And before that when I wondered if getting into a college that lots of talented people wanted to get into was too big a leap, yet… you get the idea. And then I remembered I have never truly believed in being realistic. I think it’s because as I was growing up, each time I expressed a dream I had, I would be told by someone (usually a grown-up) that I wasn’t being realistic because I was “too quiet” or “too nice” or “too working-class” or even “too black”. There tended to be a pattern – my internal response would basically be:

Okay.

But that’s what I’m doing anyway.

We are all capable of achieving those things we’d like to. I think it’s just that sometimes we can forget. Life can temporarily grind us down, or we get stuck in a rut… and we forget. That’s not to say it’s never scary to take those steps and make those leaps. Yet, speaking from my own experience, each time I have summoned up the courage and gone with what I believe it has always been where I have learned my biggest lessons, received the most unexpected rewards and surprised myself. (And, as it happens, those folks who told me I wasn’t being realistic.) Right now, I still have days with the odd wave of “How will I pay the mortgage?” panic as my mind races ahead to where I might be this time next year, rather than focusing on the present. But despite that, I would not change things. I would not wish to go back to that ‘safe’ scenario.

I would rather carry on leaping.

Happy Leap Year to You! 😀

*Thanks to Suzy for reminding me of what I had forgotten. Glad to see that you are still leaping too! 😀