YOGA READING BLOG
The importance of rest and recovery,
from a guy who’s slowly learnt to love it!
Recently, I’ve been goal setting, pushing my body to achieve what I previously thought was unachievable. These goals, to some (including me) can seem quite extreme, but I find testing my body, and its limitations, is an important part of my personal growth. That said, I’ve also learnt (quite quickly!) that if I want to do this successfully, rest is vital!
One thing I’ve learnt is how important it is to pay attention to the body: noticing how it feels, and subtle changes that occur over time, either positive or negative. Not all movements, exercises or goals will serve everyone in the same way or feel the same as time progresses. So pursuing any goal will be a personal journey and one that is better when enjoyed as much as possible. This includes rest, which, with all of its benefits, can really aid the journey, making it more sustainable and more enjoyable.
So, as the new year arrives, and we all start to aspire to fancy new year’s resolutions, these are my three top tips for rest that I’ve picked up along the way… (along with that dull ache in my hip, and a slightly clunky shoulder). As you set your goals for 2023, you might want to consider these tips, and ensure that rest is included in amongst it all.
- Full Rest – Take a full rest day… Yep! It might be hard, but do almost nothing. Enjoy the simple pleasures of a gentle walk to the shop, a stretch away from the desk for 20 minutes, or a short gentle yoga class. Don’t stress the body, just prioritise yourself, and if you want to do nothing… go for it. This helps give your mind a break from thinking about a complex yoga flow, or how far you have left to run, and allows the muscles to repair, and your mind to settle. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect on all the progress you’ve made.
- Eat – I’m often guilty of under fuelling my body, which often comes as a surprise to those who know me best (the ones who always seem to comment on the croissant that’s permanently attached to my hand!). But lack of fuel led me to become exhausted, and this was actually making my rest and recovery periods longer and exercise more difficult. When you’re resting, maybe use that day of rest to prepare a meal, or use that hour that you would have done exercise or a yoga class to prep your lunch for the next day. Eating well, providing your body with protein, fats and carbs and a good dose of nutrients from ample fruit and veg will support your recovery and will help cognitive ability as well as physical performance.
- Yoga …obviously! – A Yoga class can be amazingly beneficial in terms of recovery, and injury prevention. During yoga, we take the time to regulate our breathing, and engage in physical movement that can aid the activation of the ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system. This reduces stress on the body, helping us to relax. It can therefore dramatically improve quality of sleep, which in turn helps the body rejuvenate and repair itself, as well as improving mental clarity and motivation. It’s a win-win.
The take home? Don’t overdo it.
Trust me, I learned this the hard way! So my hope is that in sharing what I’ve learnt from my mistakes, you can avoid repeating them. Doing something every day, pushing the body, or repeatedly working the same movements and same muscle group may feel amazing, but you could be overdoing it. Not allowing for full recovery can have multiple drawbacks: from inviting injury and fatigue, to causing a regression in your training. Overtraining can directly impact your nervous system, which in turn can make you feel more stressed and fatigued, and potentially lead to you having less control over your emotional state.
Wow, if you made it this far, you should probably take a break… which gives you the perfect excuse to start thinking about how and when you can incorporate rest into whatever you have planned for the coming weeks or months! So, don’t overdo it, plan and take that rest, even if you don’t feel like you need it, because in truth, everyone needs rest, it’s not selfish or unproductive, it’s a necessity.