The Essence of Rest

I have had a number of questions and comments of surprise regarding the Essence of Rest. Questions like, “how often to rest?”; and “why does it work?”. I have also heard from many regularly practicing yogis and yoginis, who after taking a break, are amazed to see and feel a new depth and sense of ease in their practice.Why is this?

When we reconnect to the essence of yoga, we can see why. Yoga is essentially a practice of energy. Of creating the space inside our body for prana to be cultivated, moved and transformed for optimum health, wellbeing, connection and ease.

To be able to create the space in our body for prana to be cultivated, moved and transformed requires balance between rest and the work of our physical practice. If we work too much, our muscles and fascia tighten, and harden; if we don’t work enough our muscles atrophy and our body, the physical vessel through which prana moves and transforms, deteriorates. In either case, whether the muscles tighten and harden, or whether the tissue deteriorates, the body becomes weaker.

As it becomes weaker, it searches for supplies of quick energy like adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Adrenaline is a “stress” hormone, and the more it is called upon as a primary energy source, the more your body tightens, hardens and/or atrophies and the harder you have to work to move into and stay with a basic Yoga asana. Bring in Rest

When we rest, we give the body the opportunity to break from the “stress response”, and take on the “relaxation response”. To put it simply, we turn off the adrenaline output from the adrenal glands and allow for the body’s physiology to return to normal.

By returning to normal, the digestive system works better at digestion, absorption and elimination; the immune system works better at handling foreign and “sicky” microbes; the muscular system relaxes and regenerates and the system of fasciae releases and unwinds. These are just a few examples of what happens physiologically with rest – the feeling of which is like getting topped up at the local gas station.