Resting is a Practice.
They told me to rest. They said, slow down. Sit on a couch and do nothing. The unsettled energy within me responded, “We don’t rest. Tell them you will rest soon, while planning out our morning run for tomorrow, K?”
A reoccurring dream I’ve been having… no wait. A reoccurring theme in my real life is those around me reminding me to slow down—to take breaks and enjoy rest and relaxation. “You’re doing so much,” they say. My Ego, however, reminds me I don’t do enough, and my Ego never lies. About 6 months ago, I noticed a twinge in my left glute. I winced and made a face while squatting with my yoga sculpt students pretending nothing had happened. I assumed my body was a little sore from the class I had already taught that morning and my glutes were just a little tight. Apparently, “a little tight” was an understatement and what actually happened was that my piriformis become too tired to keep up with all the squats, long runs, and minute-long plank holds. My body said, “That’s enough. Now rest.”
I promised my body I would rest it, and so I did. Once a week my body got a rest day, even if that resting included teaching a class or two, hiking with the dogs, taking a hot Yoga class, or cleaning my house from top to bottom. Yes, resting felt good [enter sarcastic smirk here].
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and now here I sit, 6 months later, complaining of the same dull, throbbing ache caused from the same tight muscle pressing over the sciatic nerve. My next plan of action was get some professional attention. I paid for body work, massage therapy, and chiropractic work. The dull ache was still there, and so here I sit, typing away while simultaneously sitting on a lacrosse ball.
For whatever the reason, it sure is taking me a long time to truly honor the requests of my body. And I am a yoga teacher for crying out loud! This understanding, the connection of body, mind, and soul, is exactly what I teach. It’s what I preach to my students day after day. I stand before them, in my fancy tight yoga pants, insisting that they listen, listen, listen. Wouldn’t you listen to someone wearing fancy tight yoga pants [enter a light-hearted laugh here]? Who am I to advocate for such intuition and practice of self-care when I myself still struggle to find the balance between work, play, and rest. I think on one level, I know how to create that in my life, but on the other hand, I choose to accept it’s an impossible feat. And I don’t even have any kids yet [enter your snickering laugh here]!
I am learning (slowly, but surely) that if you ignore your body’s requests, it eventually screams loudly at you, demanding angrily your attention like a 2-year-old throwing a tantrum because her sippy cup contained water instead of juice. Even as I type these words, I am planning out my next long run, after the snow melts of course. As well, I plan to schedule yet another massage, specifically to address the dull ache that still exists in my body. Here is the truth: I have done lots of body work, resting, moving, running, stretching, and rolling. Only one person has been able to truly release my piriformis and so for now, the syndrome of the tight, relentless muscle lives on.
But not for long…
This year will bring many opportunities to be more self-reflective, more restful, and enjoy more downtime in the same way that I enjoy a strong yoga practice. Yeah, I am talking to you, Yin Yoga. They told me to rest. The lovely woman who was helping me with my Piriformis Syndrome; my fellow yoga teachers, whom I greatly admire and respect; and my parents, who don’t even live in Colorado but know my track record with slowing down.
As stated on the Dictionary.com, the definition of rest as a verb is: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. For now, I will practice ceasing movement as a part of my regular self-care practice. I will prioritize it in the same way that I prioritize an evening run with my favorite pups. And let me be clear, self-care manifests itself differently for different people. Self-care of my body includes long runs, hot baths, a strong yoga practice, chips and salsa when I’m craving it, and red wine at least twice a week. You see, the power of practicing rest produces its greatest results when we truly become quiet and still. It is in those powerful moments, we hear better and our instincts are strongest, and my intuition is telling me I do enough. I have enough. I am enough. I am telling you right now. Pay attention. Tune in. Listen, listen, listen. I believe the body almost always knows what’s best. So, let me know how your resting practice goes and I’ll keep working on perfecting mine…after I go for a quick run first, of course [enter eye roll here].