Rest matters. 

This sounds like an obvious thing to say, yet so many of us have a difficult relationship with rest.  

Do you ever feel guilty for resting? If so, you’re not alone. For a long time I felt this way too. I viewed resting as a reward for working hard and being productive, yet when I finally got there and was supposed to be resting I’d feel like I was being lazy. 

My perspective shifted after I had been practising yoga for a while, and it was in fact injury and being forced to slow down that led me to a consistent restorative yoga practice and a deep understanding of its physical and emotional benefits.  

There are different types of rest that we need, physical rest being one of them. This is where restorative yoga can be invaluable.  

I sometimes joke that restorative yoga can look like ‘adult naptime’ as it may appear to be a lot of lying around, but there is a lot happening at a deeper level as this practice calmsthe body’s ‘fight flight’ response and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the autonomic nervous system that is in charge of our body’s ‘rest and digest’ activities. While the body is supported by various props here is no need to ‘hold’ a posture, so you are able to completely let go, releasing muscular tension and giving the body the opportunity to truly rest. Restorative yoga does this in a way that zoning out on the sofa binge watching a TV show doesn’t reach. The experience can be profound.  

I’ve taught restorative yoga since 2012, yet it wasn’t until 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic that I noticed a particular pattern of people who had never tried yoga gravitating towards practices like restorative yoga, yoga nidra and yin yoga. People were exhausted, shocked and trying to process what has happening in world. For many, the pandemic forced them to slow down or stop for the first time in a long time.  

Guiding people who had never heard of restorative yoga before – yet, had come looking for it – through this practice, at this time, was a big inspiration for me in writing my book, Rest + Calm: Gentle yoga and mindful practices to nurture and restore yourself. I wanted to share ways that people can incorporate restorative yoga into their lives in a way that feels approachable and set them on the path to developing their own rest practice. Plus, as well as restorative yoga I’ve included a whole section with other tips ranging from calming breathing practices to guidance on setting boundaries and suggestions for intentional living day-to-day, and much more.  

Before 2020, running at full speed almost constantly was the norm. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that it does not have to be that way. So, will you allow space in your life for rest? 

Paula’s new book, ‘Rest + Calm: Gentle yoga and mindful practices to nurture and restore yourself’ (Green Tree, Bloomsbury) will be published on 3rd March 2022 

Paula Hines is a senior yoga teacher and writer from London. She has practised and studied yoga since 2001 and has been teaching since 2011, now with a particular focus on yin yoga, restorative yoga and yoga nidra. Her own experience of yoga as a tool for transformation led her to teaching after fourteen years of working in the TV industry and fuels her desire to share the life-enhancing benefits of yoga with others.


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