Are you resting or waiting?
A former yoga teacher used to, occasionally, ask this question in class. It was always during the long savasana in the middle, after the warm-up and standing series, and in preparation for the final half.
Even if the studio was mat-to-mat with bodies, this question always felt like it was directed towards me. It was always on days when the sweat seemed to run more deliberately into my eyes, my breath would not soften, my muscles remained tense, and my head would be stuck in the emotional traffic.
I’d get all fidgety and restless, and it was nothing like a corpse pose should be. My focus was on anything but my yoga practice, and it was like I was waiting to move on or waiting to be done with class so I could get on with everything else.
I wasn’t reaching the stillness required.
I wasn’t resting.
I was waiting for the next postures to begin.
There is a huge difference between resting and waiting.
When you rest, whether in a yoga class or getting much-needed sleep at night, you need to let your entire being go slack; your eyes remain closed and your mind is open, and there should be nothing trailing in and out of your head.
When you rest, you leave yourself open to dreams and ideas, and change. Your blood flows unrestricted, flushing the body of toxins and negative energy. You breathe, unceremoniously, allowing oxygen to circulate and seep into the cells and deepest reaches of your brain.
When you are resting you remain open to what is ahead. You aren’t waiting for anything.
When you are waiting, even when trying to rest, you never reach the point of relaxation.
While you are waiting, your muscles are contracted; your rigid back and bones preventing blood from flowing freely. When you are tense, your mind is closed off to everything, except the thing you are waiting for.
You are too intent on looking ahead, and thinking how you’ll get there, that your body does not have the opportunity to rejuvenate. You become anxious, and issues and obstacles appear out of nowhere and they stick around for as long as your reckless mind will allow.
If you don’t get the rest you need, you can’t recover from what you’ve been putting yourself through. If you don’t rest, you are never fully able concentrate on the tasks at had because you haven’t rested well enough, or long enough.
You’ve been tying up the mind with waiting for what will happen, that you never see and feel the rest of what life has to offer.
Waiting is fine, waiting can be good (good things come to those who wait), and waiting is necessary, but it should not interfere with your rest.
We spend all too much time thinking of things, when we really need more time to sit and not think.
We all need more rest, and we all need less waiting.
I know I need more time to relax and to breathe.
We all need the time to rest and just be.
© 2016 j.g. lewis