I remember reading at some point, “when you come to practice yoga and you feel tired, practice restorative yoga until you do not feel tired anymore”. This felt like a radical concept. Rest when you’re tired? Don’t “push through it”? Before I discovered yoga I was tired all the time. I fell asleep everywhere, in the car, on airplanes, picnic tables, the ground. My body ached with the desire to relinquish to gravity. I did this when I could but I also carried a gnawing belief that I should feel less tired. That if I only exercised more, ate better, or drank caffeine, I would not feel so tired. There were two conflicting forces; my tired to the bone feeling and my resistance against it. The resistance, the feeling one thing when you want to feel something else, was exhausting. It was literally choking the life force!
After years of practicing yoga, I stopped feeling tired all the time. I began to have much more consistent energy. In restorative yoga practice I watched chronically tight muscles release and felt emotions arise and uncover them selves. Tension that I had been carrying for years started to let go. I felt my heart open energetically in a way that was new. After a year or so of practicing salamba supta baddha konasana (supported supine baddha konasana) almost daily, I was lying on a bolster on the floor of the supply closet at Yoga Vermont, where I was teaching at the time. I felt a surge of energy in the pose. I stood up and walked to teach class, and when I entered the studio I felt overwhelming love for each person there. It was a beautiful feeling and the feeling has never left me. Although I do not always actively love everyone, I recognize that I have this capacity.
Rest is undervalued in our culture. We are taught to do more, be better, succeed and be happy all the time. There is something incredibly beautiful about resting when you feel tired, feeling shitty when you feel shitty, and letting yourself fall. The radical act of loving yourself frees up your energy and over time, it changes you. Not through a mental resistance that says you need to change but through an internal opening that connects you with your innate capacity to love.
-written by Emily Garrett