Updated: Nov 6, 2021
The Swiss Fall has been a mixture of beautiful sunny days and foggy mornings, early sunsets and cold temperatures in the shade. As we prepare to change from Fall to Winter over the next one and a half months, it’s important to make time for our bodies to rest. I chose 2 online practices for November in the Rest and Regenerate vein. First, Qigong for Healthy Joints on November 5th to regenerate the joints and connective tissues in the body that normally have poor fluid and blood circulation without enough daily movement. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Qi can get stuck and pool in the joints, which is why it’s so important to integrate a movement practice into our daily lives. Silk Reeling is a form of Qigong that moves all the joints in the body in spiraling motions that mimic nature’s movements, basically "oiling” the joints. It’s a true adage: what we don’t use, we lose, as the body is very efficient with its resources. The body has lazy efficiency and uses its energy where you show you need it the most dependent on your daily activities. If you sit regularly and don’t move, then your body will take resources from the muscles and joints and use them somewhere else. Especially joints, tendons and ligaments are prey to losing their resources early in the game if they are not active because they only get blood or sinovial fluid if they are moved regularly. A daily Silk Reeling routine will improve mobility, range of motion and stiffness as well as arthritic symptoms. Only adding a 10-15 minute daily practice of spiraling the joints will be time well spent for anyone with a sedentary lifestyle.
The second online practice on November 19th will be a combination of Restorative Yoga & Yoga Nidra. Restorative Yoga has made a big splash lately in the yoga world becoming super trendy in place of the more active and sweaty yoga forms of the last decades. Hot yoga is Out and Restorative Yoga is definitely In. You may be wondering, what exactly IS Restorative Yoga and why is it so beneficial? Restorative Yoga is basically finding supportive poses with no stretch factor. We try to find optimum resting positions like a nest with props such as bolsters, blankets, blocks and pillows to feel like our bodies are embraced by Mother Earth. In this rest, we can completely release and relax and this has a huge impact on our nervous system. We basically allow ourselves to get out of our way and let the body do what it instinctively knows how to do: release and regenerate. If perhaps we have too much cortisol circulating through the system from stress and/or a too active fitness regime, our bodies are marinating in toxic chemicals over a long period of time. Over time, this state can lead to memory loss and other brain malfunctions as well as hormone imbalances, abundance of belly fat, feeling wired and tired or insomnia. Restorative Yoga basically turns off the cortisol switch so that the nervous system can reset in a balance switching back and forth seemlessly between sympathic and parasympathetic systems. For ultimate tuning and efficiency of the body, the secret lies in setting aside time for rest and restorative practice and not just for physical fitness training. The body is not programmed to work without rest. This is where a Restorative Yoga practice can fine tune a well-rounded fitness program or a sedentary but stressful lifestyle. Restorative Yoga is accessible to anyone as we are not actively stretching the body. This might sound boring to some, or a waste of time, however, do not underestimate its complexity for the mind! As we aren’t “doing” anything, there is nothing to anchor the thinking mind and those who are stressed or used to an active go, go, go lifestyle might just start thinking of all the things they need to do or should be doing during the Restorative practice. For this reason, Restorative Yoga is an advanced practice. Never underestimate your monkey mind if you are not used to sit in silence over longer periods of time. Wild thoughts can be distracting and take away the true benefits of a restorative practice. For this reason, I like to pair a Restorative Yoga practice with Yoga Nidra which is basically a guided meditation that is done while the participants are in a state between awake and sleep in a restorative pose. It focuses the thinking mind to release repetitive thoughts and opens the doors of the imagination, freeing the energy body, the seat of our consciousness. After a Restorative practice, you might feel as though you have slept 8 hours, awakening refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.
When we make time to Rest and Regenerate then stress becomes just a short diversion, not something that you have to live with eveyday and overcome. Rest will fine tune the nervous system to work more efficiently during stressful situations. It might seem counterintuitive to devote time and importance to rest when our culture seems to only value activity at any price, but once you try it, I guarantee that you will never question the importance of Rest or Regeneration. It is truly one of many secrets to a well-balanced life.
Qigong Silk Reeling for Joints available as a video replay from Nov 5 and coming soon as a short Daily Prana video with unlimited access for all Zoom Buddha members.
Restorative Yoga & Yoga Nidra online on Friday, Nov 19 at 15.00. Check out Class Passes to join me in chilling out and upgrading your nervous system!