Seriously, do you ever ask yourself “Is rest really as important for transformation as exercise & nutrition?” Many of us make time for exercise and work on meal planning but neglect proper rest.
In our Lived Transformed Bible Study a few weeks ago, we explored the truth that we are to honor God with our bodies by getting proper rest and sleep. We often talk of caring for our bodies with proper nutrition and exercise, but true rest is a pillar of health we know we need, but don't prioritize. The importance of quality rest and sleep cannot be overemphasized. They are vital to the rhythms of our lives, gifts from God which serve specific physical and spiritual purposes.
Physically, we must have proper rest and sleep in order to function at our best, but the latest research says lack of sleep has become a public health epidemic. As we sat around the circle at Bible Study, this topic was the one most of us had marked and highlighted as being a personal struggle.
We know we are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, and we are concerned because the evidence shows that sleep deprivation is serious. It’s been linked to obesity, negative effects on hormones, skin aging, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, immune system issues, muscle atrophy, type-2 diabetes, etc. We also know how we feel when we don’t get proper rest and sleep, causing us to be irritable and short-tempered with others.
Something we can do to improve our health is set rest and sleep goals, just like we do for nutrition and exercise. The following are some suggestions:
Sleep journal (to really be aware of our habits)
No TV, no phones, or screen time a minimum of 30 minutes before bedtime
Follow a consistent bedtime routine
Relax in an epsom salt bath
Use lavender essential oils
Take a Melatonin and/or Magnesium supplement
Enjoy a cup of warm Chamomile Tea
Use a sound machine with white noise or calming sounds to induce sleep
Keep the bedroom dark and temperature cool
Exercise (not the 3 hours before bedtime)
Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows
PRAY for good rest and sleep and memorize and meditate on scriptures like Psalm 3:3-5, Psalm 46:10, Proverbs 3:24
For Daily Rest:
Practice deep breathing
Allow margin in your schedule
Take mini vacations/stay-cations doing something you really enjoy
Invest in a devotional and have a “quiet time” with the Lord daily
Take a leisurely walk
Lay on your back with your feet up on the wall
Get together with friends that are life-giving
Splurge occasionally on a massage
Unplug from social media for a day, weekend, week or month
Leg Up the Wall Pose
Legs Up the Wall Pose is a restorative yoga posture that allows the mind and the body to relax, relieving stress and tension. The benefits of this passive posture are transforming.
Getting into the pose
Start by setting up a clean space around a wall. Next, move your hips as close to the wall as possible, then walk your feet up the wall until your body is in a somewhat L-shaped position. Make any adjustments to facilitate a more relaxing space-- maybe place a pillow under your head, or let your arms rest on your belly or out to the sides. At this point, focus on your breath-- try elongating your breath, taking a deep, slow inhale through your nose- “calm” and a deep, slow exhale through your nose to “let go”.
Try not to bring the body to a full 90 degree angle as this can impede circulation at the hips. Instead slide your hips a few inches from the wall and/or elevate your hips by placing a cushion under your sacrum.
Attempt to stay in the pose for at least 5 minutes for optimal benefits.
Benefits of Legs Up the Wall Pose
The semi-supine aspect of the pose combined with controlled breathing leads to a slowing down within your body. This exhibits itself in a lowered heart rate which elicits a relaxation response and, in turn, helps lower anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation
Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart.
Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs
Inverting the legs/feet has long been known as an effective treatment for reducing swelling and pain in the lower extremities. This can be therapeutic after flying, physical activity or from the detrimental effects of sitting/standing during the day.
Stretches the hamstrings and lower back
The angle of the body reduces the curve of the lumbar spine, which will elongate and stretch the back muscles. The closer your hips are to the wall, the more stretch you'll create in your hamstrings.
Relieves lower back tension
Pressure is released from the spine in a supine position (especially on a bed or cushion), relieving the back from mild strain.
Studies have shown that restorative yoga poses, specifically, Legs Up the Wall, can be beneficial for those suffering from the negative effects of Fibromyalgia, Varicose Veins, Cancer, Menopause Restless Leg Syndrome, Metabolic Syndrome.
Spiritually, God has made our bodies to need rest and sleep. They are good gifts given in order that we would acknowledge and praise Him. He is the creator. We are His creation. We learn in Genesis that God rested after the six days of creation, not because He was tired (and He never sleeps), but because He was pleased with His creation.
We can honor God with our bodies when we take intentional time to rest, reflecting on our many blessings and having grateful hearts, acknowledging our dependence on Him. In the Old Testament, God instituted the Sabbath as a day when His people were to honor Him and do no work. But in the New Testament, the Sabbath is no longer a certain day, but a person-Jesus! If we've placed our faith in the finished work of Jesus, then He is our Sabbath rest now and for eternity!
In our anxiety driven, broken world, we can lay our heads down on our pillows at night and have sweet sleep knowing we have peace with God.
Thank you Pam for those helpful tips on how to rest our bodies and minds. Remember nothing happens separately. All pieces of the puzzle work together to keep on the journey to transformation. Please let us know how we can serve you.
Try one of our new stretch videos on our YouTube channel HERE, come to bible study, or a new TransFit session to worship with us!
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