Rest and relaxation poses, such as X Marks the Spot (X card), Quiet (Q card) and Yogic Sleep (Y pose), are some of the most important poses in yoga. These poses allow the body to relax and recharge in a semi-conscious state and let the exercises settle into the body.
Whatever is done in class, be it learning, balancing or movement, needs to be integrated. It is crucial that the body gets the time it needs to restore.
Exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system in a positive way by activating and energizing our system. The sympathetic nervous system is the body’s “fight or flight” response and is activated to provide temporary energy (adrenaline). Alternatively, the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms our body, is activated to counteract the sympathetic nervous system’s rush of adrenaline and other hormones.
The parasympathetic nervous system needs time to kick in and gradually restore our body back to a point of neutrality. Rest and relaxation is often seen as frivolous, unnecessary, or some corner that can be cut. However, rest and relaxation poses are one of the most critical parts of the yogic experience.
Yogic Sleep should be used at the end of every yoga session. The rest in Yogic Sleep, if done according to the direction and without distractions, is the highest quality of rest. Joanne Spence, President of Yoga in Schools, says that her students actually request Quiet/child’s pose and Yogic Sleep more than any other poses and are grateful to have a chance to rest their bodies and minds.