I took a group of women on a spring yoga retreat in Lake Geneva this past weekend.
It was an amazing time of bonding, detoxing, nurturing and learning (or relearning) how to self-care.
The focus was on coming home, to ourselves.
Many of us allow our eyes and ears to interpret our world. The retreat reminded us how we can approach the outside world from an inside perspective; we were invited home.
We turned our gaze inward, downward, looking in to the universe within our chest, and learned why it’s so important to contact this part of ourselves on a daily basis; and ideally to learn to live our lives from there. This home base, this connection to our deepest self, is so amazingly peaceful and nurturing, yet so many of us are unaware we have it or how to access it whenever we need to.
We learned it’s a breath away. One deep breath and we can all be home.
Most of us are so used to letting our senses—what we touch or don’t touch, taste or gobble up without tasting—determine how we experience our lives. We let our senses take us outside ourselves and most of us get stuck out there. But do we realize that these senses, plus others, can also take us deeper into ourselves? Do we realize our senses run in two directions?
Each class, each woman absorbed each breath in just the right way.
Some quietly sobbed in their deep hip openers, without fear. Some passed gas with a slight giggle, but no shame. Some dreamt of the same, deep grief experienced in days-gone-by, but with new awareness; and woke up the next morning with lighter hearts than in years. Some women owned their bodies and space like never before.
Some women had the best movements of their lives—bowel movements, that is. Healing was coming again, but not in the way we expected. It was awesome!
In the last few days several women have asked me,”How can we get that kind of healing on the mat?” and, “How can we have transformational experiences like those?”
I can tell you, it’s really quite simple. Use yoga.
Instead of hitting a class or jumping on your mat to improve the look of your body, find your mat when you’re pissed.
Drop on your mat when you’ve been made a fool of, when you feel ashamed or when you want to take a drink. Get on that mat when things don’t go your way. Hit the mat, and breathe.
Use the stretches and the long deep holds, and breathe. Use the strength in standing poses or the vulnerability that creeps up when you feel humbled by your torn rotator cuff, and just breathe. Approach your feelings with compassion and kindness, but not Super Glue. Breathe.
Notice how you feel. Touch it, and then allow it to move. Move it.
The mat is the place where you can reveal yourself; tell the truth about your jerkishness or your regrets and know you’re in a process that you can start over each moment. The mat is the place where you can be reminded that every day is a begin again, and that we’re not meant to be perfect; we’re in process.
Nurture yourself. Instead of stewing about your day, work it out; kindly, intentionally.
Stop doing yoga. Use it. To breathe, is the transformation.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Apprentice: Lauren Savory / Editor: Catherine Monkman