I had the pleasure of taking Pilates Reformer as a somatic practice class this past semester, and as the school year has come to a close I am taking time to reflect on my experiences. Under the tutelage of Cristina Providence I learned Pilates Mat exercises as well as Reformer work, and her goal for the class was for us to take away a collection of Pilates exercises that we could organize into our own practices outside of the classroom. In order to achieve this goal, we learned Pilates not only as a physical practice, but as an outlet to understanding the holistic experience of the body as it interacts with the mind.
One of the most important pieces of information I gained through this course was a better understanding of how to manage my energy. As a person who has the tendency to push through fatigue, or any other self-created obstacles, in order to complete a goal, it was helpful to better understand how to rest.
Our energy works in waves, with there being periods of low (rest) and high (work). I learned that if I do not engage in
constructive rest, those periods of meaningfully low energy, then I will not be able to reach my full potential of high energy again. In fact I can continue on in this manner, not fully resting before jumping into the next “thing” (whatever that thing may be), but my peaks of high energy will get lower and lower until I eventually fizzle out completely. However if I were to more routinely give myself periods of planned, constructive, rest I have the potential to continually reach those high points in energy in which I do my best work.
What I have to work on, other than the sheer act of remembering to rest, is to define what “constructive rest” is to me. Everyone has to create a personal definition for themselves, as they draw the lines between work and rest. Constructive rest could be taking a nap, but it could also be doing a Pilates workout or going for a long walk. Sometimes just changing up your routine counts as constructive rest. Read something for fun, do a puzzle, as long as you are doing something outside of your everyday schedule it could count as constructive rest.
As I go into the summer, and more broadly as I continue in my studies over a lifetime, I aim to find a healthy balance of hard work paired with rest. And along the way, I will decide for myself what I define as constructive rest.