You can’t cheat rest

Photo by Ostap Senyuk on Unsplash

Like many nuanced topics, the work-life-balance idea has been over-simplified to offer one of two options:

Either you’re a dedicated worker (who might wear busy-ness as a badge of honour).

Or you reject hard work in favour of a softer life (and perhaps you flee from hard yakka or discomfort whenever possible).

The hard worker might see rest or wellness as indulgence. The anti-worker sees discipline or dedication as meat-headed.

But to pursue either path is foolish. A life of constant hustle soon leads to meltdown; a life too lax, soon lacks purpose.

Yoga as a teacher

People who don’t practice yoga often assume that the practice is easy: “I need to do it because I’m not great at relaxing,” they often say.

And yet, we work incredibly hard in yoga. In every moment we are working (applying the Tapas principle) to ensure integrity in the alignment, spreading intelligence across our whole body to ensure the pressure is not hingeing on one joint or point.

We work on poses we don’t like (because we learn to challenge our own preferences, as well as our egos) and we work on becoming present in every moment (because to follow the chatter in our minds, means leaving reality to become caught up in our own commentary of the situation).

Do the work

So work, when you must! Be that parent juggling a million things, be that business owner working through challenging situations, be that person persisting on a side-project, meet the demands of your daily work.

But breathe …

When working on a difficult yoga posture, the breath is a continuous reminder as to whether we are truly embodying the pose, or whether we are holding on tight, simply waiting for it all to be over so we can collapse and get away from the discomfort.

Rise to the occasion, but don’t bully yourself through it.

Take a moment to stop, allow your breath to flow deep into your lower belly and study yourself – how are you managing in this moment?

Now rest

And there’s a catch: You can’t cheat rest.

Where you dedicate yourself to challenging work, you must be equally committed to rest and surrender (which can be even more challenging for some people, by the way).

Every yoga class is completed with savasana (resting pose), where we simply lie and allow our body to relax into gravity. The power of this pose cannot be underestimated, and yet, many people never let themselves truly relax (collapsing on the couch with a pizza crust on your collar doesn’t count).

Like hard work, rest is something we must practice. We must practice a relaxed and steady breath; we must practice restraint by questioning – can I give myself permission to be here, one hundred per cent, not chasing thoughts of future to-dos or past regrets?

We must practice the art of true surrender.

Not hard or soft, but strong and gentle. To aim to play the long game, not simply reacting to the stress of the moment.

How’s that for a challenge today?

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