The weekend before last I went to easily one of the best yoga retreats or workshops I’ve attended. Facilitated by Melanie Elkin of Yoga’licious, the focus of the retreat was yoga as a conduit for understanding how our bodies feel when we stay small (“I can’t”, “I’m afraid”) and when we allow ourselves to expand and to shine. It also was about self-care. As in drop the excuses and the busy-ness and take care of yourself. Let’s face it, as women we tend to prioritize self-care right below a dental exam. And when we do allow ourselves that massage we desperately need or go to a yoga retreat because we need to feel connection in order to shine, boy oh boy, do we justify it.
We justify the expense of it and the time we are doing it. You don’t hear men doing this. I don’t remember my husband crunching numbers and scraping money together from various accounts for his much-needed time sailing, time spent for him doing something that feeds his soul. Why ladies do we do this to ourselves?
At previous yoga retreats, I can remember feeling pressure to conform, wear the correct clothes, do the poses perfectly, and eat the right way. This retreat was the antithesis of that, and I hope it becomes a trend in American yoga. Anything went as long as you were giving yourself what you needed. It was cool to be on your mat in the fetal position during one of the physical yoga classes as long as that was what your body was requesting. Everything was deemed perfect, including deciding not to do a pose.
There was a chef provided for the weekend, and he was great. The food was delicious, and it also happened to be vegan/vegetarian. This would have been fine, if that was what my body needed. However, it was a yoga retreat with physical demands held in a beautiful location where the daytime high temperatures happened to be 106 degrees.
What my body needed was chicken. Just under 24 hours into the retreat I knew that I was feeling weak, untethered, and anxious. The only cure was chicken. I voiced this need to my roommate, MC. It turns out another roommate, KC, also needed meat. There was a hitch in our giddy-up: both my car and KC’s car were blocked. Bless MC as she volunteered to be our getaway driver. Now, this did feel a little bit criminal, sneaking out of the yoga retreat and all its wonderful vegetarian food for meat, but we were doing it in the name of self-care. Seriously.
We found a great little market in the town where the retreat center was located, smoking their meats out front, with a deli counter in the back. KC and I were about to have our self-care needs met. However, we didn’t want to flaunt our treasures in front of the other participants, and so that is how I came to walk back into the yoga retreat with half a smoked chicken in my purse.
Oh that chicken! It was so flavorful with crisp skin, good smoke flavor, the right amount of seasoning, and terrific juiciness. I savored bite after bite. After eating about one-third of it, I stashed in the fridge. As I walked away from my chicken, the amount of energy and joy that overcame my body and my mind confirmed the success of following through on an expressed need.
In the name of self-care, I snuck out of a yoga retreat and ate chicken. And the best part is I could do that very act because of exactly what I was learning at the retreat: to listen to my body, to treat self-care as important, and to put my needs first without excuses or justifications.
Do you make excuses or justifications when meeting your needs? When was the last time you did something truly nice for yourself without feeling guilty about it?