Reflections from a Home Yoga Retreat
A couple (or three) weeks ago, I posted this vlog, detailing my idea for an at-home yoga retreat during the week of Spring Break, and got a great response from people, saying that they loved the idea, and would like to give it a try someday as well. I could of course not lay claim to coming up with this idea, however, I read about it in the January edition of Yoga Journal. I tried out a new studio in town the week I posted this video, and the next week, purchased my pass, and proceeded to, starting this Monday past, to do a daily practice there, sometimes a twice-daily practice. I tried every class that she had to teach there, from Yoga Basics, to Restorative, to Yin, to a kick-my-butt Level 2 class where I got to practice all sorts of juicy and challenging poses, and in the process, I found myself a little more.
As I stepped onto my mat each day, I would breathe in deeply, close my eyes, and forward fold, going inward, stoking the fires of my passions, my healthy, my peace, my love for my family, and finally, last night I felt it for the first time in years, my love for myself. I did so much physically, emotionally and mentally this week, that you would expect by the end of Friday that I would be exhausted, and ready to sleep for an age, but in fact, I was high on life, and ready for more. I lifted up into my hardest post of the week, and felt personal power and self-love and love for all beings like I had never felt before.
To facilitate the changes in my physical health that I wanted, I switched to a vegetarian diet, upped my fruits and veggies, and continued to sip super-fruit smoothies everyday, and to keep dairy (mostly) out of my diet. I also limited my caffeine, and allowed my practice and my food to bring the energy into my body, and I rested well. I was in bed almost every night by ten, and I often slept in until 7 or 7:30, and some days, even napped when the opportunity presented itself. My digestion, which had been sluggish until the middle of the week suddenly decided to cooperate, and my stomach which had been tense with anxiety, was suddenly soft and relaxed by end of Wednesday evening. I felt nourished, rested, flexible, open, and, dare I say it? Happy.
And as sure as night follows day, when my body started to open up and feel better, my mind body wanted to follow suit. I became more introspective this week, there was hardly a day where I didn't journal, or at least spend some time in quiet meditation or reflection. I stopped by my favorite New Age shop in town, and purchased a couple of items so I could set up a meditation altar in our office/playroom. It's now also a yoga and meditation room when I need it to be.
But the most important thing that happened to me as I was slowly but surely coming back into myself, was that I came back to my family too. The last 5 months since my father-in-law's death have been hard for me, and the fact that I hadn't been able to take any real time for myself and away from my work in a long time was beginning to show itself on my face, in my speech, and in my sleeping habits. I was tired in a way that I hadn't been since I got divorced many years ago, and I felt ready to collapse in on myself at any moment. Taking care of my children for the last year hasn't felt like a privilege as it should, but like a job. Depression had affixed itself to my soul, putting up a wall all around my spirit, and my ability to love myself. On Tuesday, in my Yin Yoga class, I literally felt anger towards myself and my ex-husband release as I stretched open the connective tissue, and forgiveness and self-love swoop in. I have assumed that same pose a few times this week to continue to help that process along. And because of that, my ability to be playful has swooped in too.
I smile again. A lot. I laugh again, heartily. I hug, kiss, snuggle, run, jump, and squeal with joy that I haven't felt since I got married to the love of my life exactly 364 days ago. I proceed to the last phase of my vacation from work, my first anniversary celebration with relish, joy, passion, and anticipation like I haven't felt in ages. Everything about me feels so GOOD, and so RIGHT, right now, that I feel powerful, like I'm floating on air, and I'm on top of the world.
I so whole-heartily recommend doing a vacation, or an at-home retreat with a physical-activity focus. It doesn't have to be yoga. It could be Tai Chi, or a martial art, or taking dance classes, or going skating, or hiking up mountains everyday. But make sure that if you do decide to do something like this, that you choose an activity you already know and love, and are able to do everyday, maybe even multiple times a day. When you move your body and strive to open it and loosen it up, you do the same with your emotional body and your mind body. And where you have made space in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective and structural tissues, God, or Spirit, or the Creator, or whatever name you want to give it, rushes in to fill that space, and in turn fills you with love, and a sense of power and a high like I do not have the words to express to you.
I hope that some day, every one of you can feel as loved and protected and seen as I do at this moment. It is always available to you, if you allow it in. Sometimes it will require a loosening of your physical body so that your mind body and emotional body will be able to follow suit, sometimes it will just be during a meditation after you welcome the divine in. Sometimes it will be when you relax spontaneously. But whenever it happens for you, enjoy it, relish in it, swim in it.