Wellness Within--Taking Care of the Self

I was running from the parking deck, yoga mat in hand, afraid of missing one millisecond of the 2011 Inner IDEA Conference when I was quite literally smacked down by what can only be described as deliberate slowness. You know, relaxation. It was palpable. I felt a twinge of shame for being in a rush. That's how magnetic this micrososm of wellness was at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines hotel. I realized I was going to have to hang up my hurries, which was fine with me. Eventually.

What's most alive in me is to share what I experienced "under cover" as an attendee. I am a yoga teacher and I have been to many yoga conferences this past year. I know I am biased, but nothing, nothing comes remotely close to the level and depth of education Inner IDEA provides. The body has layers--if you study it long enough, you know this. So why wouldn't you present education in fine layers? I don't want to know how to teach an asana; I want to know why. I want to know how to make it better and what words and actions will help my students feel better in their practices. 

Every session I went to challenged me mentally, physically and dare I say spiritually. I like being challenged, but it hurts a little. I absorbed every last drop of information I could and found I wanted and needed more. I could write a book about that. This is a blog. So I will focus on the issue of self-care.

I am not a parent but a lot of IDEA members are, or are caretakers at some level. In addition, they are service-oriented people who thrive on helping others. This is beautiful. What struck me as a stark contrast is that people don't properly take care of themselves. Think about the old oxygen mask metaphor. You have to take care of yourself if you want to have enough reserves to take care of others. 

Here's what I noticed. In sessions like Leann Carey's "Developing the Teacher's Eye," where she singled out people who had certain imbalances in their postures, there was a lot of self-deprecating self-talk. "Oh I knew you were going to pick me because I'm terrible." This session was amazing, by the way, I learned so much. And I was one of the people she chose as an example of a missing belly-to-throat connection. What a great learning opportunity this was! 

Back to my point: so many of us demand perfection from our bodies. What is perfection? I saw so many people who put themselves down, expected the impossible from their bodies and resented regressing a move that they obviously could not do. My question: If we're so negative about making a pose easier (and better) for ourselves, how are we supposed to be able to help others? I would love to see a major overhaul of our attitudes and I think it starts with taking better care of ourselves--our bodies, our attitudes and our speech. People notice. 

Luckily the classes on myofascial release, proper alignment, nutrition and other self-care tools were pretty full. I hope everyone puts these principles into action. Including myself. It starts with you and fans out. 

A note on Rodney Yee's and Colleen Saidman Yee's Sessions today. I've been a fan of Rodney Yee for many years so I thought I had a good "read" on his presence. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the teacher who showed up today. I don't know what I was expecting as he's a consummate professional. It's easy to see why he's been so successful. He doesn't dominate a room, he holds it. He balances the energy in a way that makes you feel contained. His cues were impeccable: "Open the front canvas of the body," for example. The visuals were also compelling: "Make the sailor tattoo on your belly move on the ocean of your skin." Say what you want--it worked. 

Colleen Saidman Yee also shared a sweet word of wisdom that ties back in to self-care. She reminded us to think about where we are in space and how we relate to gravity as we tackle our days. "You hold on to more than you realize, and you don't even need to. Learn how to relax your body as you move through your life."

Take care of yourself!