Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's Relaxation Boot-Camp, Now Drop and Give Me Savasana

Relaxation boot-camp sounds like an oxymoron, and I suppose that it is, but for many it may just be the only way to find a little peace of mind.  

Over the past few years I have observed numerous individuals who couldn't sit still to save their lives.

These individuals often find 60 minutes is too long to go with out their phones,  swear up and down they are too busy for savasana,  and love what an intense workout yoga know who I'm talking about, and if I just described you listen up 'cause this isn't about opening your third eye, it's about your health.

In a general sense our body has two modes:
1) Fight or Flight (the sympathetic nervous system)
2) Rest and Digest (the parasympathetic nervous system)

Rest and digest goes beyond sleeping for 8 hours after taking an Advil P.M., it is being able to manage stress and taking time to relax periodically throughout your day.

Too often I hear excuses like "I'm too busy to relax" or "I'll rest when I'm dead;"  and these common phrases worry me, because if we don't find time to rest we may just do the latter sooner than planned.

Ambition, stress, and a go-get-um attitude has it's place, but in excess can lead to: 
  • A lowered immune system making one more susceptible to infections, and making it harder to fight off diseases.
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Chronic joint or muscle pain.
  • Under active metabolism and weight gain.  Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests that "Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite."
  • Even excessive exercise can cause severe health issues.
Whether you're a stress-nut, a marathon junkie, a work-aholic, or just a normal person living in our stress prone culture I urge you to consider the above, and ask yourself if skipping savasana is worth the risk.

We all need a butt-kicking workout, but we equally need to rest (real rest).  If you're struggling with that pesky 5 lbs you can't seem to loose see if reducing your stress levels can't help push you past your plateau.  Those aches and pains your feeling might not need a good stretch, but rather a good deep breath.  And if you're just not sure how to relax maybe this little rest workout will help:

First thing (maybe second after starting your pot of coffee) take 5 minutes to sit in a chair and focus on deepening your breath, and slowly wake up.  Allowing yourself this time, instead of jumping right into panic mode will help to set the tone for the day.

Afternoon/Lunch Time:
Take another 5 minutes.  If you've been sitting for several hours get up go for a short leisurely walk, this isn't exercises this is moving meditation, so focus on that deep breath.  If you've been on the go sit still close your eyes, and BREATH.

After you've done your typical routine, set some time 5 minutes to digest your day.  Try soaking your feet, drinking some chamomile tea, or legs-up-the-wall pose.  Do it with the TV off, realign your breathing, and with every exhale let go of any stress you may have acquired through out your day.

As Needed:
Pause, breath, reset.  As for you overachievers, yes, you can take longer than 5 minutes!

Why the relaxation boot-camp?

Well, because contrary to popular belief relaxation isn't easy.  It takes 15 minutes to pause, rest, and digest.  Yet, many of us will still claim we are just too busy. 

I challenge each of you take on your own personal relaxation regiment:  What's your biggest challenge to rest and relaxation?  How does pausing and resting effect your day?

And don't forget to report back to Yoga With Patience, your Relaxation Drill Sergeant. 


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