Rest and Restore
This weekend at the Vancouver Yoga Conference, I taught for 14 hours. I feel good, but I can tell I've really expended some energy.
I can remember when a two-hour workshop seemed massive to me. I didn't know how in the world I would fill all that time. Now I regularly teach for six hours a day, immersing people in Core Strength principles of anatomy and alignment. It's no walk in the park energetically. I have to be present every second.
As a yoga instructor, I promote Self-centering at every turn. This weekend reminded me that it's not possible for every day to exist in perfect balance with the amount of energy we give out equaling the nourishment we give back to ourselves. Balance isn't perfect, like a square. It's wild; it moves in a living flow that may seem chaotic to the outsider, but actually has it's own beautiful purpose. Living in balance, one of the ultimate goals of yoga practice, means that sometimes you give a lot--to a work project, for example, or to a friend in need. Other days you're able to rest and restore and do what's necessary for your health and happiness.
Of course, we aim to do some of both every day. But it's natural for waves of output and input to wash through our lives. The self-aware yogi creates a plan for making sure that there is always a moment of rejuvenation waiting around the corner. I purposefully said "no" to almost all commitments this week so that between now and my next weekend teaching in Manhattan, I can collect myself, have someone else teach me yoga, and follow my natural rhythms for a few days.
Whenever possible, we must preempt the busy times we know will come by creating boundaries around our peace. If we don't, who will? Rather than waiting until we burn out, how about starting today to set dates with yourself--moments that are untouchable, such as a night a week, one weekend day a month, whatever it takes to ensure that no matter how stormy life gets, there is always an oasis waiting right around the corner.
Core Pose: Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) Variation with Block
This is a powerful restorative posture that releases tension from the belly and lower back muscles, while bringing your sacrum and lumber spine into a gentle traction that frees you up on all levels by promoting deeper relaxation, detoxification, circulation and energy flow.
Come into a Bridge Pose preparation on your back, knees bent, heels under knees, with a block off to the side. Inhale here. Exhale to lengthen your tailbone and lift your hips with support from the firming lower back and abdominal muscles.
Place the block the long way (not wide across your hips) under the sacrum, with the top of the block at the top, center of your pelvis, and the rest of the block under your sacrum and tailbone. If the block goes up into your lower spine, it's too high.
In this position, the block will gently massage the sacral muscles and press the sacrum into a natural curve. Your lumbar vertebrae will pour down off the block like a waterfall. The shoulder blades, shoulders, and back of your head will all rest into the earth. Now, walk your feet as wide as your mat, and let your knees release toward one another. They don't have to touch, but this position will encourage a healthy widening across the low back and sacrum, two areas that tend to get compressed in our daily lives.
Reach your arms out to the sides, palms up, and take a few minutes to rest here. Breathe without effort and receive the benefits of such an open and restful pose.