As we approach the end of the year, it seems everyone shifts into overdrive and life moves even faster than it does usually. Considering how fast paced life is on any given day – it becomes almost scary how much we begin to expect of ourselves. It is perhaps therefore no wonder that in recent weeks I have noticed more than ever, how the yogis who practice at Heal. Love. Yoga need and appreciate the downtime during practice.

It has never been unheard of for people step onto the mat and with the first few deep breaths and opportunity to just ‘let go’, tears begin to flow as the sense of release becomes quite overwhelming. I’ve seen this happening more and more in recent weeks –beautiful people feeling totally overwhelmed and the space on the mat seems the only place where some can allow themselves to let go of all that we hold on to, as we try to meet our own and everyone else’s demands on our time, our body and spirit. We don’t relax, even when we’re sleeping, and the moment we take a few deep breaths – relax our shoulders, relax our face – the tension that flows out leaves us naked in a sense. Confronted by all we have pushed aside and suppressed, because there has been no time to acknowledge our selves, our heart, our feelings, our need to slow down and just stop.

Giving yourself the time and space to escape from everything you need to do and think about – even for as little as ten minutes or an hour is so valuable, yet, strangely enough, we hardly EVER allow ourselves that time. Even in yoga practice, students want the hardest, fastest class when they start out. Even five minutes of centering at the start or 5 minutes of relaxing at the end of class, is met with jitters and impatience to move on to the next step. Some are so restless that even holding postures for 10 breaths as opposed to 5 is met with unease because ‘is this really making the best use of time?’

Luckily it doesn’t take most serious yogis long to realize that the value of the pause in the practice, most of the time, far exceeds the value of more high energy practice sequences when practiced in addition to the a high energy and demanding lifestyle. In the quest to do more, better, faster, be more productive, with less money and more profits in every moment, in every endeavour, when do we stop? What does it take for us to realize that it is not just okay, but essential to stop and appreciate the downtime?

If you tend to live a life like this you will find that even the 10 minutes downtime during a yoga class can be transformational – for both your body in terms of refueling and healing and for your mind in simply keeping you sane by keeping you calm! Yoga practice at its core equips you and sets you up for a calmer, more centered, focused, and peaceful existence and the rest and relaxation incorporated in the practice is a crucial part of this winning recipe.

Taking that a step further and taking an hour for a restorative session or Yoga Nidra (also referred to as yogic sleep – the deepest form of relaxation while staying fully conscious) could be the kindest thing you have ever done for yourself.

Build in purposeful downtime as an act of kindness to yourself. Your body needs rest and relaxation to heal, detoxify and come back to its centre. Recharging your batteries means recharging your adrenal glands and gives you more to give once you do get going. The most creative ideas and insights often come during or as a result of downtime.
Give THAT to yourself for Christmas this year!

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