On Thursday evening, I had signed up for a spinning class, but as the afternoon wore on, I was suddenly blearily tired. Half an hour before the class, I “late canceled.” (This means I don’t get my money back but they will free up a space for someone else if there’s a waitlist). I also bailed on dinner with one of my best friends.
Instead, I laid on the couch in my spinning clothes for half an hour, one cat at my head and the other at my feet, and went to bed at 830.
My post yesterday was about the power and importance of re-engaging with the fundamentals of the things we think we’re good at, partly to really tune ourselves to what our bodies really need. What I needed yesterday, clearly, was rest. I was actually sick last week and took three days off life altogether. I’d worked out a few times this week, including a spinning class that felt great, but apparently, I wasn’t quite ready to jump right back into full-bodied pace.
Like Sam, Catherine and a whole bunch of other people, I’m doing the “218 in 2018 workout challenge” again this year. That spinning class would have actually been workout #282. Last year I hit 221 in total — and this year, it’s been fascinating to me how easily I passed the 218 goal. This was partly by incorporating a lot more yoga, and partly by shifting from asking myself “can I fit in a work out today?” to assuming I was going to work out, and consciously deciding when I would take a day off. (And when I posted that I was taking a rest day on the group, another guy high fived me and said he was too).
Deciding not to work out yesterday was an intentional, conscious decision to rest, to recover. There is definitely a part of me that has a thrust to keep pelting forward — I’m so close to 300! Isn’t that a powerful and impressive number!!!!??? But paradoxically, part of what I’ve learned by trying to move my body as many days as possible in 2018 is when to rest. The part of me that has learned how to listen knew that yesterday, lying on my couch and going to bed early was what my body actually needed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about prioritizing rest and recovery this year, and I’m not alone. A few years ago, “FOMO” — fear of missing out — was a ubiquitous hashtagable phenomenon.. Over the past couple of years, it’s been supplanted by FOGO (“fear of going out”) or — as the big sign in the reception area of my spinning studio say — “JOMO,” the Joy of Missing Out. I keep reading things about the joy of canceling plans and how to listen to your own instincts about managing social energy. (There are even etiquette guides on how to flake on plans without ruining your relationships). Wellness blogs all over the place tout sleep and rest as the single most significant aspects of health, and there are whole industries built around encouraging intentional or purposeful rest. Just as I started to write this post, I got an email from one of my former yoga teachers who has started a new wellness practice over the past year or so, flogging a restorative yoga deck. You don’t even have to leave your house to do the yoga that will relieve your stress — and the tagline is “remember to rest.”
As I was writing this post, I paused to go to a yin yoga class, and the teacher started the class by talking about the “triad of nutrition, exercise and rest,” and how we are perpetually rest and sleep deprived. She had us pick cards for inspiration, and I got one that emphasized “difficulties arise when we demand of ourselves things that don’t match our current vibration.”
Now, I’m not a very woo woo person. But if I really believed in “messages from the universe,” these would be pretty vivid. To be in balance, we need to rest. I know it’s a privileged position to be able to just forfeit my spinning class fee, or to seek needed rest by paying someone $20 so I can lie on a bolster for 75 minutes in a series of set postures. And I know it’s a different kind of privilege to know that your friends and social world will “always be there,” even when you suddenly realize your body and soul need quiet, not interaction. But for me, right now, this is the stretching time of really learning how to be more choiceful about what and how I plan things, about what it really means to integrate movement and health into my life every day. Between 2017 and 2018, I built a habit of moving almost every day. Next year, I’m hoping that my moments of rest will be more intentional too.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives, works and lies on mats in Toronto.