Last month I spent 6 days training in Restorative Yoga with Judith Hanson Lasater. Restorative Yoga arranges the body in optimum positions to induce deep rest and relaxation – something we all need more of. Using props – bolsters, blankets, blocks, eye-bags, sand-bags, head-wraps – we find darkness, stillness, warmth and quiet, and let the body find balance. In a world of light blaring at us from little screens all day and potentially night, constant and often repetitive movement and noise noise noise, stimulating our sympathetic nervous system all day long, we desperately need to experience the opposite, so we can switch on the parasympathetic nervous system – the body’s natural healing response.
The course was fantastic and I took my new-found knowledge and implemented it immediately into my classes and 1:1 sessions. Judith is a natural born teacher who teaches with joy and feeling – you can just sense her excitement at her topic! She also is a bit of a comedienne; one of my favourite quips was ‘being a yoga teacher is the best job. You get to do it bare foot and in your pyjamas’.
But what I really learnt was something much deeper.
I was SO tired during the course. At one point we were using chairs as props for a supported forward bend, and I managed – I’m still not quite sure how – to hit myself in the head (smack bang in the delicate temple no less) with the metal rim of the chair. It really hurt, and left me with a little bump on my temple. The interesting thing was, even though I was in pain, I was thinking – I have to carry on. I’m here to learn. If I let myself cry I’ll have to sit out and I won’t be able to join in and learn what I’m here to learn. Stress panic aaaargh pretend you’re fine!
I did learn what I was there to learn – it just wasn’t what I expected.
The girl who I was partnering with ignored my protests that I was ‘fine’ – such a terrible word to ever use to describe how you are- and I am so glad! She spoke to one of Judith’s assistants who kindly bullied me into lying down, and basically wrapped me up like a burrito, or a baby in a snug, but it wasn’t until Judith came over and held my hand that the tears started to come. I could finally let them come, because I knew that she knew that I wasn’t really crying about being hit in the head. I was crying because I needed a good cry, because I was exhausted, because I was trying to hold on to too many things and had overwhelmed myself and I needed to disintegrate for a while so I could build myself back again stronger and more complete. Yes, something about the way she sat by me told me all that. Words are so unnecessary sometimes.
So what did I learn? I learnt that crying is one of the strongest things you can do. The only reason I wasn’t crying was because of my own self-judgement and self-perception around what other people might think… that dreadful misuse of imagination… I didn’t want them to think I was weak and silly and was crying over a little bump on the head. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t look after myself – especially when I had just been talking to one of them about self-Care Sundays – how embarrassing! I couldn’t possibly cry, I’d better pretend I was ‘fine’.
That was weak.
What was strong was letting myself cry. Letting myself feel how I felt and staying wrapped up like a baby for half an hour while the class went on around me – because that’s what I needed.
Funnily enough, one of the students came up to me later that day and expressed her interest in self-care Sundays.
Perfectly enough, what I experienced was exactly what I want to give to others on Self-Care Sundays, and if needed in my classes and 1:1 sessions too: a space where you can be just how you are, bring what you need to bring, cry if you need to cry and let yourself be burrito wrapped and cared for, because we all – however strong and grown up we think we are – need to let ourselves be looked after from time to time.
If this sounds like something you need, sign up here to receive information about the next Self-Care Sunday. And why not come and join me over in my Facebook Group, Unapologetically You, for more self-care inspiration.