What I am about to proclaim is radical; you have permission to do nothing. Do nothing every month, every week, or every day. Go wild and do nothing every hour! We all have so much to do at home, work, school, and all the places. There will always be something to do. I promise that you will never get it all done during this lifetime. When we finish one to-do list, another waits right after. Hitting the pause button in the midst of all the tasks and chaos is what really takes courage. What if we created stillness and silence? How would that effect the tasks yet to be completed? Would we enter the next activity with more peace and mental clarity? Could it possibly give us energy to get through the rest of the day?
The topic of self-care has become popularized in the last few years. What is it really? For me, self-care is carving out time and space for yourself without demands and expectations. For self-care to really benefit us, it is vital to engage in it regularly. Sure, self-care can look like a caramel spice latte at Starbucks, a spa day, or a nice hot bath. We can spend lots of money on self-care or none. I would like to propose a simple way to practice self-care that can be done virtually anywhere and has no cost(except time).
Judith Hanson Lasater defines Restorative Yoga as “the use of props to create positions of ease and comfort that facilitate relaxation and health.” That to me sounds like a complete self-care practice. What could be more rejuvenating and compassionate than relaxing and spending time with yourself? Restorative Yoga can be tremendously beneficial the first time you do it, however, the more consistent practice, the more return. You will notice relaxing quicker, going deeply inward, and more control over your mind. It also teaches us to do less, move slower, and appreciate the silence. It is meditative in nature meaning that you will go completely inward; a time of introversion. Restorative Yoga looks easy physically but in fact is the hardest style of yoga. Relaxing the body can be challenging for most of us. Once the body is still, we become aware of our thoughts and feelings that are with us all the time but we just aren’t aware of them. That is the difficult part. However, if we don’t face our thoughts and feelings, they will find a way to come up; perhaps when you are trying to fall asleep. Sitting with and witnessing all that arises with compassion is the ultimate self-care.
I suggest to start off small; practice one pose for just a few minutes every day. Build on that once you feel you are ready. The longer the poses are held the more benefit you will get. If you have a private space, dim the lights, create warmth, find silence and use what you have to put the body in a position that is conducive to rest. If you are in a more public space, simply soften your gaze or close your eyes and be with your breath and the stillness. Invest in the props(blankets, blocks, bolsters, eye pillows, sandbags, etc) only if you want to. You can certainly use pillows, blankets, books, and hand towels as substitutes. If you have the ability, keep your space set up for rest all of the time; you will be more likely to do it if it’s there. Always set a timer so that you are not worrying about time or falling asleep.
A home practice is fabulous and can be so accessible. Finding an experienced Restorative Yoga teacher, safe studio space, and a container to practice is invaluable. Attending a yoga class creates community, connection, accountability, among other assets. Restorative Yoga tends to draw many when they need it. Practicing consistently helps us avoid feeling like we need it as we will already have it in place and may be in a better space to handle the rollercoaster that is life.
Join Katie Overcash Rodgers, LCSW and RYT-200, at Noda Yoga every Thursday at 9:30am and Sunday at 5pm for a 75-minute Restorative Yoga class. Restorative Yoga for Families is held at Innergy Works every Thursday at 4:30pm. Katie has been a Mental Health Therapist for over 13 years and a Yoga Instructor for 2 years. Katie is an “Advance Trainer” under Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew© Program.