Today she crashed during my yoga practice, and suddenly a little voice rang out inside my head said, “You’re finished. That’s it for the day. Take rest.” And that’s exactly what I did. I curled up right beside her and entered shavasana.
“You’re finished. Take rest.” Where does the voice come from? It’s not the lazy voice that I sometimes hear with a wondering mind. No. It’s not that voice at all. It’s a voice from deep within that is there in everything I do and has been present as long as I can remember–the body’s own way of saying it is time to stop.
I love watching children, because they hear the voice. They lie down and listen no matter where they are or what they are doing. It’s beautiful. Somewhere as we grow up, I think most of us learn to ignore the call to stop and take rest even when it is loud and strong. “No. I’ll just get a coffee and finish that paper, or I’ll make up that loss of sleep tomorrow.” I remember cross-country and marathon running days in college and graduate school when I wouldn’t stop for anything unless I logged at least 45 miles into my running diary each week. I just kept going until I fell down and literally ended up with an injury, or catching a cold. Even with regular yoga practice, until a few years ago I often heard the call to take rest and would just push myself thinking, “No. I will stand up in my backbend today–just a few more tries.” After a few more tries I was beat and grumpy all day.
Then something happened during a yoga session with Kino McGregor a few years ago. I arrived to the practice ready to really work on backbends. After completing primary series, I did my first backbends and drop back. She came from across the room and assisted with my next one. Then, just as a good Bangalore Aunty tells me to take rest after lunch, she nodded her head and immediately said “You’re finished. Take rest.” At first I was offended. How could she stop me? This was the main part of the practice I had come to work on. I wanted to do more backbends. But later in the day I realized something. I felt really good. I wasn’t tired or grumpy. She saw through my practice and knew when it was time to stop. Then I started listening myself, and I started hearing that voice again and heeding its call.
It is far too easy to ignore the call to take rest, but I try to listen for that voice inside that says, “You’re finished”–in yoga, at home, and in my professional life. The basic lesson: Sometimes less is more.