We spent last week in Detroit doing volunteer work. After taking a van of students through snow storm Harper, we slept on cots in a church basement for a full seven days. We moved pounds and pounds of boxes, full of clothes, painted walls, floors and trim and organized like we were Marie Kondo (just kidding, we weren’t supposed to throw anything out and I was the only one with that level of enthusiasm for the project).
Naturally, by day three I was a mess. I still had work back home I felt I couldn’t pull away from and I was putting finishing touches on my promotion letter after receiving some constructive criticism. I was getting no more than six hours of sleep at night, as mysterious banging occurred in the church with startling regularity at both 3am and 6am. Whether it was ghosts or radiators, it was seriously messing with my sleep cycle and I was at the end of my rope.
Luckily Mr. Sweetspot knew to intervene and gently but sternly convinced me to stay behind from the afternoon shift, catch up on work and relax if I can. It was our plan to check out a yoga class while we were in Detroit, so I did some research (while everyone was moving even more boxes) and found Citizen Yoga in Detroit. It was not the most exciting offering, as Detroit offers both Elevated Yoga (420 friendly) and DMT (dance meditation), but it was a dry trip (which I interpret as substance free) and the dance meditation was Sunday only. Citizen Yoga offered classes that day, and you didn’t need a membership, so we decided to go to the Yin-yasa class.
The class was a combination of restorative and movement based yoga. The Yin portion of class was done first to prep the body for specific pivotal poses. Both of us had taken this combination before, but never in that sequence. The yin portion really prepares the body to move, so this order it the way to go. To our surprise, this was also a hot yoga class, which we’ve never done before. Seeing how we were extremely sore and tired and it was 10 degrees in Detroit, this was the perfect fit. Katie was a fantastic instructor and offered lots of variations and modifications throughout the practice. In the yin section we held poses for 3 or so minutes, in the movement part of the class we went through several sun salutations and warrior sequences. Each got faster as the class moved along, and by the end of it, sweat was dripping down my body, and I felt elated and relaxed, all at the same time. One of our students said after that she felt “touched by God”, which is both poetic and accurate.
This one hour changed my entire outlook on life. Suddenly, everything was right again. I had a purpose, life had meaning and that harried self from hours ago was nowhere to be found. Which leads me to the question- if I can make myself feel this good, why don’t I take the time to do it? Yes, this was a nice studio with a really good class, but I can get a similar benefit from doing Yoga with Adriene or my own practice. I have no excuse for not engaging in self care, and fixing things before stress completely takes over. The moment I had this thought, I instantly started thinking: “This is it. No more excuses. I’m gonna come up with a yoga regiment and hit the mat hard. Every day. Be the best me I can be!…” That’s about the time when I started spiraling about how I will fit this in, creating a whole new unachievable to do list.
I know that the best way practice self-care is to slow down. I keep getting myself in way over my head, and struggle to find balance- the sweet spot, if you will. And then I beat myself up about now doing enough and needing to do more. Sometimes, I even spiral.
In those times, it’s good to remember my yoga mat is there. I can stretch my body, quiet my mind and focus on the present moment. Experience stillness or be mindful of the movement of my body. Balance on one leg as I fold my arms out like tree branches. And breathe. In and out.
But in the mean time? No new crazy projects or challenges. I need the down time, and the only way I will get there is by mindfully protecting my time. The well taken care of version of me is a much better person, and I like being around her a whole lot more. So cheers to white space in my calendar and all future yoga adventures.
Have you found a practice that helps you relax? Any cool yoga classes you recommend?