One of the most potent lessons I received from my high school music teacher was to play the rest like it was a note. Learning to appreciate the pause, the silence was quite radical for my teenage self. My preference was to play fast-moving fiddle tunes and it was not unusual for me to rush through a rest, excited to begin playing again. I can still remember the feeling that came over me when I lost myself in a rest and noticed the role it played in the piece at large. In the silence of my violin, other sounds were illuminated or a universal pause could be appreciated. I recall being suspended in the rest, a very similar sensation I would experience years later in mediation. I could not have imagined then how learning to play the rest would continue to influence my life outside of music!
The most profound applications of slowing down, pausing and taking a time-off have been in my yoga practice. Sometimes the rest has meant dramatically modifying my physical practice because of injury; other times stopping it all together. Some days it means doing a restorative practice instead of flow because I’m just overwhelmed and over-worked. Other days it means taking a day off so my body can re-charge. No matter what it looks like on any given day, the message is the same: the pause, the rest, is a significant part to the whole.
During the times when I listen to my body and take a time-out or slowed down, I experience some of the deepest magic of yoga. Injuries heal, built-up tension releases, insight into my self and relationships is gained, intentions are set and trust is found. It is not easy to take a break and it is hard to understand the value of slowing down or being still - especially in this fast-paced world we live in. It is however in the rest that some of the most beautiful and potent teachings emerge.
I invite you today to take 10 minutes and pause for supported Savasana. Place a bolster under your knees, maybe a cushion or folded blanket under your neck and head, set a timer for 10 minutes and close your eyes. If your mind is super busy, watch your breath. Give yourself permission to do nothing and pause. I guarantee you’ll feel the potency of this simple pause.
Jillian is a yogini based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads weekly public yoga classes for adults and specializes in yoga for kids and families. Her studies have led her to complete trainings at YogaWorks, Karma Kids and Yoga Playgrounds. Jillian feels blessed to practice and teach yoga and is particularly passionate about empowering her students with tools to navigate the modern world with ease.