As I sit to write this blog from OBX I thought about the essays we used to write in grade school about what we did during summer vacation. It is a rainy Saturday my last day in the Outer Banks. Instead of bounding out of bed as we have done each day, going for walks, bike rides and other adventures, I allowed (sternly told myself) to revel in the relaxation of listening to the rain, finish watching the movie we started last night and to have that second cup of tea. It felt good and something I will need to remind myself to do occasionally “in real life” as winter approaches.
Although I did some of my own practice this week, my yoga involved lots of walking, biking, kayaking and a less intense mat practice. I noticed that some of the injuries that have been plaguing me over the past few weeks are diminished, and my lower back is feeling less tight. My walks did not involve listening to the news or recorded books but were silent, taking the time to notice my surroundings. After the third night of the trip, I stopped waking up every two hours, signaling to me that my mind was also relaxing.
I have read several blogs and articles written by other yogis about taking a break and signals that you need one. Several of the issues they discussed rang true, some did not. Listening to your body and heeding its messages is critical, adding in some massage therapy, restorative yoga and doing less demonstrating and more live coaching are all good ideas. Taking time out for my own yoga study is also something I am committed to doing more of.
One topic that other yogis discussed involved taking a break from one’s yoga community (if not a positive one). I can say unequivocally that my yoga community is what inspires me and brings me joy every day. When I think back on the past several years of building my teaching practice, I feel so grateful for the students I have met along the way – working with you all has brought a fullness to my life that I could not have imagined before. Some of you know that when I started yoga teacher training, I did not intend to teach, I just wanted to deepen my own practice. Stepping onto my mat each class whether it is to teach just one person, or a larger group fills me with joy and gratitude that I cannot imagine my life without it.
While I have gotten discouraged sometimes at the inconsistency of class size the erratic nature of my new “business”, I am more committed to this pursuit of sharing my joy and curiosity about the practice with the world (or at least my little part of Charlestown).
I was researching the topic of self care while I usually default to articles written by other yogis, this one published in Harvard Health was succinct and practical and links science and medicine to the restorative practices of yoga and other healthy habits.
Meditation - Taking A Break
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us”. – Maya Angelou
The scenery here in the OBX is beautiful, the maritime forests full of loblolly pines, the views of both the sound and marshes and beautiful sea grasses to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east with wide vistas of open beaches, huge dunes all along the national seashore.
Our Practice – Savasana
In the spirit of the above, I revisit savasana this week. No matter what you practice “actively” this week whether it be mat yoga, or some other activity, take the time at the end of your efforts for savasana. It truly is restorative and the peak of our practice. All the exertion of the asanas or exercise readies our body for the meditative and restorative benefits of savasana. While I certainly recognize that we all practice for different reasons, I do believe that most of us are working toward that harmony of mind, body, and breath.
While here in OBX I took a yoga class at OBX studio with an instructor named Jenn. It was such a treat for me to be a student, and not have to worry about timing out an appropriately time sensitive savasana (I know, crazy but true). I left myself truly participate and it was really wonderful.
I remind you that yoga is about calming the mind (Sutra 1.2 again); therefore savasana is really the peak pose of our practice. I invite you to read another article on the topic that I have enjoyed, this one by Charlotte Bell.
No recipe this week, while on vacation I looked up a lot of vegan recipes that I hoped to sneak into Thanksgiving dinner. I would love to hear from you if anyone has anything special that they are making!
See you on the mat!