Last week after Thursday night’s restorative class (just two left in the series–drop-ins welcome), one of my students said that now that class was over she was glad she had come. “I wondered whether I was too tired to come,” she said. “Before I came, I was tired, but not relaxed; now I am relaxed, but not tired.”
It is knowing whether our practice will give us the shift between tired, but not relaxed and relaxed, but not tired that tells us whether we are really too tired to go to class (or practice on our own at home).
What does it mean to be too tired to practice? When sick or jetlagged or injured, a strong asana practice can be risky. If your regular class is a challenging one and you are tired, consider taking an easier class or doing your own practice rather than just not doing at all or trying to muscle your way through a class that feels wrong for the day. Try starting with a restorative or self-massage or gentle meditative movements and see whether being softer and more exploratory of your state brings in new energy that leads you to move towards a more energetic practice or whether it shows that you are truly exhausted and getting progressively quieter until savasana (final relaxation) is the best possible option. If you go to class, let the teacher know that you are going to be backing off and why. Most teachers are happy you have come and will be supportive of your taking care of yourself.
When a goal of practice is to become increasingly more sensitive and aware of our state of being and is less about achieving certain poses or levels of fitness or getting a certain amount of exercise, then we will have fewer days when we think that we are too tired to practice. On days we are especially tired from the demands of the day, we can always invite our practice be an exploration of how fatigue is manifesting itself and what will help us on any given day relax, revive, and deeply rest. For modern living-in-the-world yogis, that can be a truly nourishing way to practice and enhance life.