Over the last few days I have been on a yoga weekend in the Lake District, organised by Glo-Retreats. I booked the retreat ages ago, and when the weekend came near, it seemed to be just the right time to have a few days away from the everyday.
The right time is, often, also, the hardest time. When stressed, it can feel easier to keep going than to stop. Stopping, and taking time, feels like the hardest thing to do.
It’s a long time since I have practised yoga, and I’m older and stiffer than I used to be. Also, I had forgotten how hard it is to really engage with your breath and your body. I find that as soon as I think about breathing, I can’t seem to do it naturally anymore. And when my body tightens and tenses, I know I need to let it go, but that feels the hardest thing to do. To just be, not to push or pull.
In one session of yoga, I found myself tensing so much that my head hurt and found I could no longer follow the yoga teacher’s instructions. In the end, I decided to give myself a break, and walked away from the session. It was a wet, misty morning, but it felt good to be in the open air, in nature, using my limbs in the familiar rhythm of walking. After about 20 minutes, I reached Grasmere: misty, silent and calm. Into my head came some words from Margaret Atwood’s poem, Interlunar: “We have come to the edge: the lake gives off its hush”.
The walk lifted my spirits and grounded me in the moment, but also reminded me of a piece of poetry that I love.
The walk, like the weekend, gave me new perspectives and stretched me. It took me out of the familiar routines. I met and talked to new, interesting people leading different lives in different places. I was reminded of the wider world, and my wider self.
I know from my own experience, and from working with people as coach, that taking time to get in touch with yourself and your feelings isn’t always easy. This weekend I was reminded just how important it is.