Start by checking in. Whether you have a specific journal with prompt questions or a notebook with blank sheets that you can just empty your head out onto, journaling is a great place to start before attempting to find a state of deep rest.
We love this journal ‘Five Minutes to a Mindful You’ which contains mindfulness exercises and prompts to help you find a sense of inner calm. Over time, using a journal will allow you to simply observe your emotions, acknowledging them but all the while understanding that you need not be controlled by them.
Have a soak
In this day and age, we need to schedule time to rest. The rat race seems as though it’s more manic than ever before, with constant distractions, places to be and jobs to juggle, so allocating time to recharge is vital. It’s normal to feel as though this is rather self indulgent but really it is no different to spending an hour watching your favourite TV show or a couple of hours watching a film – your body and mind will just receive a lot more from it. Start by having a warm bath and using your favourite bath salts, bubble bath and candles. Epsom Bath salts are a great way to help eliminate toxins and alleviate muscular aches and pains and reduce inflammation while calming the nervous system. Finish with moisturising the body with your favourite body oil to leave the body feeling relaxed. We love the Tisserand Muscle Ease Oil. Finish by putting some warm, comfortable, soft clothing on so if it’s late, you won’t have to do much once you have finished resting.
Support the body fully
It can seem excessive to use such a range of props, blankets and cushions, but if you’re due for a recharge, do it fully. We have 3 restorative poses you can try at home here. Enjoy the feeling of the body being completely held so that you’re not subconsciously holding on to any tension.
Create a space in the house
Knowing you will not be disturbed will let the mind rest at ease. Tell everyone in the house where you will be and to keep the noise down and not disturb you. The rest of your household will be reaping the benefits in the long term from the rest you get – so it is not as selfish as it sounds! Find a space that you will have enough room to lay flat and that you know will be clutter-free, warm and cosy. If that means making the living room out of bounds for an hour, so be it! Be strict and firm with this being your time.
Build associations to trigger the brain to relax
Think about when you smell baking bread or your favourite meal cooking – what associations come to mind? Do you feel relaxed, warm…comforted? Our sense of smell is so powerful in shifting our mood and energy, but it can take time and past experiences to build these associations. Begin your practice by diffusing an essential oil or adding some oil to your pulse points. We love this little 3 step set from Tisserand to help you to fully arrive in the space and bring focus to the mind. Once deep rest becomes a regular ritual and you begin with the oil every time, you can take th oil with you wherever you go and instantly feel calm, spacious and centred just like you do on your mat.
Be sure to cover yourself with a blanket over the body as any distractions could disturb your state of rest. Even if you do not feel cold before starting, when we become relaxed or sleepy, our body temperature can dip slightly. Our Organic Cotton Yoga Blankets are soft and dense so they feel as if the body is fully encapsulated under a safe cocoon!
When you first begin, you may feel as if you have better things to be getting on with. You may feel fidgety and unsettled. These feelings are all 100% normal and even those that have been practising meditation for years will get days like this. Be patient. The mind sometimes has to run around in circles to be able to settle Over time you will learn to just notice this and observe your thoughts as you slowly drift into your own space of just being, instead of getting wrapped up and absorbed in them.
Move if you need to
After sitting down all day at a desk, sometimes the last thing our body wants to do is lay still. Give yourself the opportunity to check in and see if you need to move before resting. Yoga poses, asana, are there to allow us to unravel the body so we can meditate in stillness for long periods of time. So whether that is a quick stretch, a workout or some yoga, become in tune as to what your body needs.
Use a Mantra, Guided Meditation or Yoga Nidra
We have made it to lying on the mat: we have had a bath and moved our body just the right amount, we have used oils to help us relax; the candles are lit; our body is fully supported by props and soft blankets, but still the mind begins to chatter away, and before we know it, we are full of worry and lost deep in our thoughts. Using a guided meditation or yoga nidra to focus our awareness can stop us from drifting off into deep thought and help us to stay in the present moment. Using a mantra can also be a great way to keep the awareness on one thing. Try a variety of techniques and see which one suits you best. We are all different and each method can be great for one day but not for another – so give all of them a go.
Don’t rush out
Once you have come out of your relaxation, don’t rush to quickly go and pick the kids up or do the washing up. Give yourself some time to just settle and consciously absorb what experiences are coming up for you.A big part of the practice is noticing the effects it has in shifting your energy so that you can build a connection to the practice and reap the benefits.
Read more: yogamatters.com