Our body can reach its own equilibrium when we choose not to put new information in. When we feel exhaustion or discomfort, our first reaction is to choose a new input to change our body's state - it could be food, painkillers, caffeine or new thoughts of the future or the past. However, if we take the time to sit with our sensations and come back to the breath, our body naturally finds balance.
The body has an innate intelligence to find its own equilibrium. When we go to sleep at night we recalibrate and feel refreshed the next day. Restorative and yin yoga act in a similar way. We sit with ourselves and our breath in restful postures for the mind to settle and to give the body its own space to recalibrate.
I realized this last week after taking a long flight and experiencing jetlag. The next day I was running on very little sleep and let it affect my day. Instead of drinking caffeine or eating sweets to lift my energy, I decided to do a restorative yoga practice.
When I closed my eyes to sit still, all the exhaustion and frenetic energy moving inside my body became apparent. After about fifteen minutes, I began to find the stillness underneath the exhaustion and my thoughts, and over the course of an hour and a half, my energy restored itself.
Some yogis say savasana is both one the most difficult and beneficial postures. Our more active asanas bring the mind into a single pointed focus on movement and action, but when we come down into savasana, or any restorative pose, we have to maintain that stillness and presence, without anywhere else to put our mind's focus. In an age of cell phones and technology, it is a powerful practice to tune out the rest of the world and just be with yourself for an hour and a half.
In my own practice, I've been working with an idea from Pema Chodron: if you are willing to be with an unpleasant sensation for more than 90 seconds without judging it, it will go away. This has actually worked for me with menstrual cramps and headaches. Instead of pushing away the sensation I now give the sensations my attention and allow myself to feel the pain or discomfort fully.
When I am there for myself for even just a few minutes without judgment, the uncomfortable sensations begin to dissolve with the breath.
May we all give our body this full attention, space and presence to reach equilibrium through our own natural intelligence.