Rest and recovery is one of our main pillars at Silver Linings.
Yoga, Qigong, Meditation and Stretching are all key disciplines in our approach to holistic wellness, but what is it that makes them so effective? We know that taking time to rest is essential for combating stress and anxiety and that giving the body time to recover will help you avoid injury and wear and tear on the joints. But these disciplines go deeper, they can enhance vital systems and ultimately help you live a longer and richer life.
Read on to discover the secrets to unlocking a deeper practice and enhanced wellbeing through these incredible restorative practices.
This ancient Chinese practice is less well known than Tai-chi, yet its practice is just as gentle and effective when it comes to healing the body, increasing longevity, and finding mental and physical balance.
One unique aspect of qigong is its emphasis on cultivating and balancing the body’s energy, known as ‘qi’ or ‘chi’. This involves a combination of movement, breathing exercises and meditation techniques that are designed to clear blockages and boost the flow of energy throughout the body.
Some of the practices involved rhythmic tapping to release energy flow/meridians in the body and shaking off tension. Here at Silver Linings we call this the ‘Tallulah Shake’ in honour of our qigong expert, Tallulah!
While qigong is often associated with traditional Chinese culture, it is also practiced in other parts of the world and has been adopted by people from a wide range of backgrounds and traditions. In recent years, qigong has gained popularity as a complementary therapy for a variety of health issues, including chronic pain, stress and anxiety.
To quote the late, great Joseph Pilates ‘You are only as young as your spine is flexible’ which is why Pilates incorporates active stretching within the technique to maintain a healthy, flexible spine.
Stretching is more than a quick quad stretch after a run, it is essential to help the muscles recover, avoids injury and prevents the joints stiffening up as we age.
Stretching regularly can help to increase flexibility and improve the range of motion in your joints. This will not only help prevent injury but also enhance performance.
It is the ultimate rest and recovery ritual you can do whenever and wherever to keep your body mobile and relaxed.
Stretching increases blood circulation and helps release tension and tightness in the muscles. This can have an energising effect on the body making you feel more awake and alert…..ready to take on the day!
Stretching will also release endorphins which make you feel good and put a smile on your face. Research shows that whilst both men and women will experience an endorphin spike during stretching, it is greater for women than for men….so ladies….roll out your mat!
In such a fast-paced world, taking time to stretch for rest and recovery is the perfect tonic to boost your mood.
Whether it’s physical or emotional, most of us have experienced some kind of pain or trauma at some point in our lives. Since we are all different, we all experience pain differently and cope with that pain in different ways. Some hide and suppress it, avoiding the healing process that we all need to go through in order to move on, while others decide that they no longer want their pain controlling their lives so they confront it, beginning the healing process.
If you are having trouble healing or don’t know how to heal, some say that Yoga is great way to begin the healing process. Several studies show how yoga has the ability to help us heal – mind, body and spirit.
Yoga is powerful because it works on mind, body and spirit. There are postures designed to alleviate all kinds of issues: circulatory, metabolic, digestive, hormonal, major organs and brain function. Importantly there is also a huge psychological element that is a key weapon when combating stress.
In our modern world we know that most disease stems from malnutrition, toxicity and stress. Yoga has teachings and guidance to alleviate all of these modern-day issues. By teaching people self-control, giving then positive guidance and allowing them to feel the amazing benefits of mindful movement and meditation, you give them an opportunity to lead a life full of vitality and the opportunity to meet their full potential.
Physical and mental therapy is one of Yoga’s most important achievements and, of course, that power comes from the fact it is working on holistic (whole person) harmony and unification.
We harmonise the whole body and the mind with the breath, the emotions and the spirit.
It’s true – meditators look radiant. The deeply restorative aspect of meditation allows the whole system to soften and relax, including the face and neck where we store a lot of tension. Simply relaxing the face, neck and shoulders can improve circulation and bring a healthy glow. On a systemic level, meditation lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. Excess cortisol is one of your complexion’s main enemies when it comes to accelerated ageing – it reduces collagen (the protein which gives skin its plumpness), thinning the skin and allowing wrinkles to form.
Meditation brings us into the moment and, by being less caught up in our thoughts, our sensory awareness expands. It becomes a virtuous circle – in turn, we become more rooted in the present moment. A great example is with food and eating. When our sense of smell is heightened, our taste buds and salivary glands are stimulated, ready to receive the food.
Rather than unconsciously inhaling a meal in 60 seconds, we’re able to taste every seasoning, experience texture and enjoy the simple sensory pleasure of sating our hunger. This is mindful eating without having to try.
Being on the go 24/7 means most of us are in an over-stimulated state, known as ‘fight or flight’ mode – the hyper vigilant side of our nervous system. The body is automatically put on alert, with many physiological consequences including constriction of the digestive process – that butterfly feeling when we’re excited or nervous. This is normal, but consistent imbalance can tip into digestive issues such as IBS. Meditation calms over stimulation by allowing the relaxation/recovery response known as ‘rest and digest’ to kick in.
Over time, our nervous system becomes balanced, resilient and our digestive system can function optimally.
When every minute of the day counts, it can seem a waste of time to sit still in meditation. However, meditators with a consistent daily practice find a spaciousness begins to emerge – time becomes elastic. What happens is that our perception of time changes when we are able to slow down and be calm and relaxed even in the face of difficulty. Rather than a clock ticking, an ‘in the moment’ stillness arises and whatever needs doing gets done. It’s real.
Slowing down means we become able to focus, prioritise, make decisions and complete tasks more efficiently.
In our society, we’re bombarded with external messages which we absorb throughout our lives, and sub consciously shape our thoughts and behaviour. Meditation allows us to access states of consciousness beyond our conditioning.
On a practical level, this process can support us in freeing ourselves from our habitual thoughts and compulsive behaviour. We are less likely to react and become more able to listen and choose how to respond. This can manifest in many ways for example, maintaining calm during a disagreement, or making nourishing decisions on what to eat, drink or how to exercise.
Practicing meditation allows us to gradually attune to our thoughts and explore our minds more deeply. When we let go of the concept of having to somehow switch thoughts off, we can allow the process of relaxation and our natural inner calm to emerge naturally.
We develop the ability to re-connect to a deeper sense of stillness that exists beyond thoughts, we’re able to abide with them and even mine a more profound level of creative intuition and ideas which exist beyond the clutter.
With the process of regular meditation comes the ability to be at ease with what is happening, and to enjoy the present moment. Our circumstances may or may not change at all, but our perception shifts so that we can fully appreciate where we are rather than constantly chasing experiences.
When we’re not constantly preoccupied with the past or the future, a non-conditional peaceful contentment and natural inner happiness arises. This is what makes finding the time to meditate truly worth it.
With so much good news around all of these rest and recovery practises we recommend, it might feel a little overwhelming. Where to begin? We recommend trying a little bit of everything and finding what works for you. What makes you feel calm, centred and ready for the day or ready for a good sleep. Enjoy the journey with our expert guides here at Silver Linings.