Yoga practice is really amazing. So many interesting asanas. So much potential for self-transformation, for improving health and vitality, for gaining self-knowledge, becoming a better version of one’s self.
And it’s great fun. There are so many challenges along the way. Can I get my body into that position through practice? Can I pay attention to my breath when my body is in such an intense asana? Can I enjoy the journey of an asana from impossible to possible without getting frustrated or annoyed? Can I really keep looking at my nose for that long!?
But there is one element of the yoga practice that I’ve noticed has become, for really a lot of people, harder and harder over the last year or so.
Taking a proper rest at the end of the practice.
The yoga postures work the body on a physical level but also on the level of the nervous system. The ancient texts refer to 72,000 energy channels (nadis) in the body. These nadis are stimulated, and even cleansed, through yoga practice but they can also become somewhat agitated, or let’s say ‘excited’ by the combination of breath/bandhas and asanas. In order for us to allow the nadis to settle after all that roller-coaster ride, we need to allow complete stillness to descend within both the physical and the energetic body.
That’s why there’s a compulsory rest at the end of the practice. To allow the energetic body to recover from the yoga asanas. It’s vitally important. Without it, we’re building up layers of agitation in the nadis.
There’s something about online classes that seems to make it harder for people to take a long enough rest after yoga practice. Maybe it’s just the fact that so many of us are practising at home for such a long time and there are so many more distractions at home than there are at our local yoga studio. Maybe we’re all just still so freaked out by this pandemic that we find it harder than ever to stay still for longer than a couple of minutes. Who knows why, but it’s just something I feel has started to be ignored by a lot of students, and it’s really important that we don’t let that important element of the practice slide away.
How long is long enough then?
The research says that it takes a minimum of 7 minutes for the nervous system to reset after yoga practice. So, if you need to, set an alarm for 7 minutes and then put your phone out of reach. Why not set it for 10 minutes and reap the benefits of an unhurried rest after your yoga practice. It could be the only rest you get all day!
Lie Down. Take Rest.