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Happy New Year 2019 – the importance of rest & renewal

21 Jan 2019, Posted by lucyoga in Non classé

 

January is a great time to reflect on the past 12 months and to let go of what no longer serves us, creating space to welcome new ideas, projects and energy to carry us into the new year. If we can follow nature’s lead by going inward, doing less, and resting more we will reap the benefits of the natural cycle of renewal that life offers us on an annual, monthly and daily basis.

Yoga is the sanskrit word for “union” – meaning between our mind/body and also between ourselves and the universe.   We are part of the natural world and yet in the 21st century many of us living in large cities have lost this connection – our lifestyles are becoming less and less natural and as a result people are suffering more and more health problems.

We might not be able to hibernate but we can certainly do less and rest more – allowing us to reconnect with our human being -ness rather than constantly in a state of doing something. Yoga and meditation (along with other mindfulness practices) help us to slow down and re-discover stillness & silence which are deeply nourishing to both mind & body, and which are becoming increasingly rare in our fast-paced technological world.

Yoga is part of Ayurveda (which means “science of life“) and which like most ancient philosophies encourages us to live in harmony with  nature.  At this time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere) nature is resting due to the shorter days and colder temperatures.  We all understand the importance of a good night’s sleep – so that we can greet the new day feeling refreshed and full of energy, but this natural cycle of activity followed by rest also happens on a monthly basis (with the moon’s waxing & waning) and on an annual basis with the seasons.

Restorative Yoga is a great winter practice – when energy levels are low and our bodies are craving deep rest.   Relaxation is a lost art and it takes around 15 mins for the average body to let go of unnecessary tension and to allow the body’s natural healing mechanism to start working.  It is for this reason that most yoga lessons end with savasana (corpse pose)  which is considered the most important posture, yet some people find it difficult to lie down and do nothing due to their mental agitation.

If an over-active mind stops you from relaxing try these different ways of calming down the  constant thought process:

  1. listen to a guided meditation or body scan;
  2. follow your breath with your mind in whatever way works for you eg. counting every exhale up to 10 and recommencing; feeling the cool air entering the nostrils and warm air exiting;  or following the rise of the inhale and fall of the exhale in your belly.

Thoughts will still arise but just notice that and then gently bring your attention back to the breath.  As your body comes into stillness, so will your nervous system and your mind.

Lying down in a supported savasana for 15/20 mins – with a pillow or bolster under the knees, a cushion under the head and with a blanket to cover up – is one of the simplest and most nourishing things we can do to relax, restore and renew.

Another profoundly restful and healing practice is Yoga Nidra which we can also do at any time but is especially good at helping us to relax before going to sleep.  It involves lying down and listening to a guided meditation.  I like to make the most of these cold, dark winter evenings by going to bed earlier and doing Yoga Nidra.  This website has free yoga nidras available for download in many different languages and on many different themes.  https://www.yoganidranetwork.org/downloads.

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