The Power of Rest: Lessons from Restorative Yoga

This post is intended as inspiration for you to find rest in your life, particularly as we come towards the end of the year. I found restorative yoga at a time of many shifts in my life. It became, for me, a safe space of allowing and accepting where I was and how things were unfolding in my life. It gave me hope and courage in the midst of anxiety and the scary decisions I had to make. My wish is that we can all find a way to immerse ourselves in rest and to meet what emerges out of the silence.

Rest is an expression of trust

When I lay out my props and begin my practice, I am trusting in my own worth, independent of what I do, create, or provide. In other words, by setting aside time to rest, I affirm that I am enough, even when I’m not doing anything. I don’t need to constantly be acting in order to exist meaningfully in the world. In another sense, I am also trusting that the world can and will go on without me. My work, my relationships, my responsibilities, my to-do list—nothing is so urgent that it cannot wait an hour or so. It is a great relief to drop the weight of being needed and called upon all the time. I am allowed to relax, and things will not fall apart if I do.

Support is always available

Once I am within the practice space, I start to develop trust in other ways. I trust that I am in a protected space, where I will be held safely and securely by my props. Props are a beautiful reminder that support is always available. They are a direct and physical way to teach us to stop exerting, to stop mustering our effort, to stop trying to hold ourselves together. We can use props to hold up our weight (instead of having to carry ourselves), and to cover or wrap around us (instead of having to contain or comfort ourselves).

Working with props means trusting that my body already knows how to let go, and that, given the right environment, it will let go. And if I fall apart, the props will be there to support me, until I can put myself back together again.

There is space within

Silence and stillness are at the heart of restorative yoga, both qualities of not-doing. As tools of the practice, they are used deliberately to influence our nervous system, so that it can self-regulate and bring us back to balance. The truth is that we don’t have to do anything to heal; simply by not doing, we do heal. Transformation is inherent in being itself, and does not require doing to create it.

Restorative yoga give us the permission to not do, which is at the heart of resting. When I rest, I recognize that there is stillness in my being. Or that my being is stillness—behind thoughts and feelings and memories and plans and all the activity of living. There is something quiet and restful in me, something that pulls me back to myself when I am given space, silence and support.

If you are looking for resources to help you in starting a restorative yoga practice, I recommend Judith Lasater’s books Relax and Renew and Restore and Rebalance. For online classes, I would recommend Glo and Yoga InternationalHappy resting!

© reviveramesh