“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” ~ Sydney J. Harris
One of my yoga students asked me to lead a relaxing yoga class series at her neighborhood club house one night each week. She had over 20 women eager to sign up for the series with probability of more. I gladly agreed and we began getting the word out and established the class series at the neighborhood club house. 16 actually registered and paid their fee for the series and 13 showed up for the first class. After class was over 12 of the 13 reported they loved it. They slept better that night than they had in ages. The next week 9 people showed up for class and the next week 6. I started to worry I had done something to chase these women away! The student coordinating the series checked in with everyone to get feedback on the class and came back to me with a stunning report. “Lynn, ” she says, “everyone loved the class. But everyone is just too busy to relax!”
Too busy to relax? What have we come to?
Okay, so maybe blocking off an hour and a half for a yoga class when you have little children is a bit tricky. I understand busy. More than you know. But there are absolutely ways to carve out a committed practice to relaxed quiet time even if you’re house is brimming with activity. And I’ll be so bold to say it’s critical to your health that you do so.
The Mayo Clinic reports Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Lowering blood pressure
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving concentration
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
So, here are some tips on how to carve out committed relaxation time at home no matter how busy you may be:
1. Invest in earplugs. I like the squishy kind you can squeeze to insert and then they expand to fit. I keep a pair in my purse, in my bedside table and in the kitchen. (If you are a parent or a nanny or otherwise responsible for small children I only recommend you use ear plugs when you have ensured the little people fare safe, secure and well supervised otherwise. I typically warn my teenagers and husband I’m putting my ear plugs in ahead of time so they don’t think I’m deaf, dead or rude). Use earplugs to block out all the noise of the world around you if only for a few minutes. You won’t hear the phone, the tv, the dog barking, the doorbell, the leaf blowers or the lawn mowers. Ahhhh….
2. Designate and dedicate a space. Create a corner, a spot, an area, a small room that is just for you and your quiet time. Keep fresh flowers there. A candle. Some icons or items that visually cue you this is sacred space. Bring a yoga mat and props, a firm but comfortable cushion for sitting. Curtain it off or close the door. Create a sign to hang outside the space that warns potential intruders, “Relaxation taking place. Please leave me in peace.”
3. Designate and dedicate a time. So this is where it gets tricky, I know. But if you don’t do this you’ll never make use of your sacred space. How about early morning upon waking – preferably before the rest of the house awakens. Or, when your kids are napping? How about 10 minutes right before bed at night? Or during the 20 minutes dinner is baking in the oven?
Now, what to do with that yoga mat, props and cushion…. This is where taking a gentle yoga class and/or a meditation course will come in handy. Learn some basic postures, how to sit with yourself in meditation and how to breathe… Once you learn, you can cultivate your own personal practice.
Meantime, if you can’t make it to a class, just lie down on the yoga mat with the cushion under knees. Let the weight of your body be heavy and sink into the support of the floor. Relax your belly and drop your shoulders down away from your ears. Allow your eyes to close and let your face grow soft. Breathe in slowly to the count of 5 until lungs are full, hold the breath for count of 2, then slowly exhale through your nose to the count of 5 until lungs are empty, hold the breath out for count of 2. Repeat 5 times. (You might put your earplugs in before you begin).
Avoid caffeine after 10 a.m.
A warm bath with some sea salt and some lavender drops at night before you go to bed as a matter of ritual is always a good idea too.
The key is to dedicate and designate time and space for some relaxing ritual on a regular basis. Your mind will be calmer, your body will be less tense and your overall health may improve.
Lynn Louise Wonders