For some of us, carving time to rest and recover after an intense workout can feel counterproductive. Somewhere along the way we have adopted this idea that doing more yields better results. While I commend and celebrate my yogis, riders and clients for working hard, I am also a big advocate for rest days.
Truth is, when we rest and recover, we replenish our body and mind. When we carve time for R&R, our body heals and recovers faster so we can tackle that next class or workout feeling stronger and more powerful. Through my own training regimen and my 8 years of teaching fitness, I have learned that our bodies are resilient and have the ability to heal quickly when we take time to rest. This is why recovery is a must—to keep our bodies healthy while optimizing strength, stamina, and flexibility.
Rest and recovery is something I am working to incorporate more into my life. I aim to implement daily rituals that help me recover, but I typically take one full day off from my weekly workouts on top of teaching 20 classes. Below are 5 things that I’ve found help me get the most out of my rest. I trust that these tips will also help you feel recharged and revitalized physically, mentally and emotionally.
5 Rest Day Practices:
1. Get enough quality sleep.
Sleep is our body’s number one way to recover. When we sleep, we give our body time to heal and boost our immune system. Allowing yourself a full rest periodically is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your fitness goals. To do this, you need to signal to your body that it's time to shut down for the night. Drink some chamomile tea, dim the lights in your room, play some relaxing tunes and reflect on your day.
2. Netflix and Stretch.
Throw in a load of laundry, turn on your favorite show and spend 10-20 breaths in pigeon, seated forward fold and locust pose to stretch key muscles in your body. If Netflix and stretch turns into Netflix and binge, you might want to use blue light filtering glasses or turn your screen to night mode so your brain will recognize when it's time to relax.
3. Give your mind a break.
Meditating or going on a silent walk can help relax your brain so you feel more present and in tune with your body. This is one of those things you can incorporate into your busy workdays even if you don't have a traditional weekend. And it's always a good practice to look away from your screen every twenty minutes at something twenty feet away, for at least twenty seconds (the 20-20-20 rule), to give your eyes a break from digital strain.
4. Pamper yourself!
Take a bath with epsom salt, put on a mask, book a mani/pedi or a massage at least once a month, or treat yourself to some at-home pampering. You’ve worked so hard, treat your body to some much-needed relaxation. If you're feeling sore, I'd recommend using a foam roller or handheld massager—you can even take some CBD—and as always, drink plenty of water.
5. Practice Dolce Far Niete.
The sweetness of doing nothing. This one is tough, but we can all learn from Elizabeth Gilbert and her book Eat, Pray, Love to be ok with chilling more and doing less.
When it's time to return to your exercise routine, your body will be primed to perform at its best. Getting motivated after your rest day is for a different blog post, but you can start by laying out your workout clothes and snacks the night before (I suggest packing a FitJoy protein bar in your gym bag), drinking an iced lemon-cayenne water to wake up your system, and giving your phone and earbuds a good wiping down so you're fresh and ready to crush your next round of workouts.
Gustavo is a Yoga Instructor, SoulCycle Instructor and Personal Trainer living in Austin, Texas with a desire to inspire and uplift people through high-spirited fitness classes. Gustavo's quest for healing his body and nourishing his spirit led him to the discovery of Yoga and SoulCycle. When not teaching or taking a class, Gustavo likes to walk around the lake, visit coffee shops and explore different taco stands. No matter what he does or where he goes, he strives to show up mindfully.