Permission to rest

Permission to rest

It’s important to give yourself time and permission to rest, especially when you’re feeling too busy to even consider stopping for a moment. By Paula Hines

Late last year I did something I had never done before — I cancelled a yoga workshop.

At that point, a few people had asked me about it and said they were planning to come. I am used to people signing up at the last minute so I was fully prepared to wait until the day of the workshop came around and teach whoever came whether it was two people or 20.

But then, I was hit by a wave of fatigue and I recognised the early signs of my body asking me to do less. In the past I ignored such signs, usually to avoid letting down others and always, without exception, to my cost. (It had taken me more than once to learn this lesson.)

Not this time. I looked at my schedule for the remainder of the month to see what I could let go. My workshop was a week away and I had a sense of guilt for even considering cancelling it. What if those people who were planning to come were disappointed? But cancel it I did. Instantly I felt a weight lift and knew I had done the right thing. As I spent a leisurely, restorative Saturday afternoon with myself instead of teaching a workshop I was grateful that I had given myself permission to rest.

(And I say this as someone who does love to teach.)

Many of us feel guilty for resting or tend to see rest as something we can only experience once we have completed all the things we need to do. This can be multiplied if you are in any kind of caregiving role.

But rest is not something that needs to be earned. Often we feel too busy and stressed to contemplate slowing down, never mind resting. (Yes, yoga teachers experience this too.) So I invite you to see what you can take off your to-do list. Even if this feels impossible or you feel like you don’t have time, where can you invite space? For instance, it could be bringing your awareness to your breath and consciously extending your exhale to soothe your nervous system. It could be tuning in to the spaces between each breath.

I write about this and more in my new book Rest + Calm which is grounded in restorative yoga and also includes lots of ways to invite space and calm into your days. Will you give yourself permission to rest?

Rest + Calm, the new book by Paula Hines, is published by Green Tree, Bloomsbury on March 3, 2022

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