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Rest is the New Hustle

‘Tis the season of more—more activities on the calendar, time spent in traffic, temptations, expectations, late nights, visual stimulation and more. As the holiday season nears, excitement—as well as the cloud of exhaustion—approaches. Enter our old friend: Rest.

Practicing rest creates a calmer and more present mind. Resting also has physical and psychological benefits, like lowering blood pressure and elevating and stabilizing mood. Our bodies are not meant to operate continuously at full speed. It, therefore, becomes absolutely necessary to turn off the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze) and give the parasympathetic nervous system (rest, conserve) time to restore. This state of rest allows the mind to quiet, the body to take a much deserved break from moving and the breath to slow and deepen.

One way to explore rest is through Restorative Yoga and its use of props such as blankets, blocks and bolsters. These items help create positions of ease and comfort for the body. With the body fully supported, gravity releases tension. It’s an expression of allowing and opening, versus stretching and exerting effort. There is no doing in the practice of Restorative Yoga, only being.

For overstrivers, this can be a challenge to take the time for intentional rest. Most ambitious types feel resting is nonproductive. This is a myth. Rest is not only productive, but also necessary. If you’ve ever been in a situation in which your body is calling for a basic need and you deny this need, the result is the demand just becomes stronger. Think “hangry”—that feeling of needing food, not meeting that need, and then the need grows into hungry and angry. Meeting the daily need to quiet the mind and settle the body, both contributing to its overall well-being, provides a calmer mindset to meet the demands of daily life.

Stress isn’t the problem; it’s our response to stress that is our source of suffering. When the body has practiced relaxation, it is more suited to operate from a place of calmness and clarity, rather than reactivity. Worry, anxiety and holding tension in the body are all indicators that the body needs to rest. 

Creating more balanced internal conditions, by regularly practicing rest, results in a more balanced response to work, relationships and even the busy holiday season. And we can all certainly benefit from a more peaceful way of living and responding to one another.

Peggy Speake teaches Restorative Yoga at the Virtua Center for Health Fitness, located at 401 Young Ave., in Moorestown. Her primary focus is encouraging students to reconnect with themselves in order to live more harmoniously with others. Her classes are held on Mondays at 9 a.m. For more information or to register, stop by the member services desk or call 856-291-8800.

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