Our bodies are intuitive, but for most of us, we've become skilled at tuning out. We try and push through a mid-day energy slump, ignoring the body's cues that it needs a recharge. We're not designed to function at the same speed all day, all month, or all year long. The concept of a cyclical rhythm is especially true for women. As I recently learned from a fascinating workshop with Nicole Negron at the Riveter, female hormones are designed to ebb and flow in a cycle that affects our ability to function the same day in and day out.
All humans are healthier and more resilient when we pay attention to our natural daily and seasonal shifts. Especially in summer, rest is key to maintaining wellness during the hot months and into autumn. In Ayurvedic terms, summer is pitta season, blending elements of fire and water. Each day has a pitta time too - around noon. We find ourselves out of balance when the activities we choose increase the qualities already present in the season and time of day. So, if mid-day we go take a run in the hot sun, or continue to work ambitiously during lunchtime or throughout the entire summer without a vacation, we increase our internal heat. This sets us up for irritability, anger, and judgement (towards self or others). If instead we find ways to decrease fire in the middle of the day, and in the summer season in general, we encourage health and wellbeing.
Other cultures are smart about this, perhaps forced into a varied pattern of living due to a closer relationship with the weather (a lack of air conditioning will quickly and effectively put you in touch with the realities of summer and a need to move more slowly). Think siesta. This isn't some quaint southern European notion, a nod to laziness. A surrender to mid-day rest is actually a tool for increased energy and mental focus. The New York Times posted an article today about the incredible benefits of workplace naps. No joke!
For most of us, a mid-day rest is quite a counter cultural notion and it's hard to break the habit of non-stop doing. We can't just flip a switch and suddenly take 2 hours for rest. But we can start small, and even 10-20 minutes of a real break from our screens will benefit our afternoon efforts.
Here are a few other tips for a restorative 10-20 min wellness practice mid-day. If you have access to a quiet space like the beautiful meditation room at the co-working space I belong to, the Riveter, lucky you! If not, try and find a shady, quiet spot outside this summer. Happy resting!
Yoga Asana Stick Figures by Justine Aldersey-Williams