I was laying down, on my back, on the blue mats on the floor at my physical therapist's office. I was in treatment for a trio of painful work-related injuries. The most excruciating of the three was a stabbing sensation in my upper right trapezius. As I lay there, my PT sat down next to me and suggested that I rest in savasana (aka corpse pose aka star pose aka final resting pose) daily as part of my rehab.
I was shocked. I turned my head to look at him and then stared back at the ceiling. I felt a tight knot of emotion in my throat. I was going to cry because in that moment I realized that I had abandoned my rest.
Stress and pain were running/ruining my life. I had returned from a two-month yoga teaching residency at a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project in Costa Rica to a 55-70hr a week job in the restaurant industry and managing the escalating needs of a parent with final stages of atypical Parkinson's disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
In Costa Rica, I surfed, napped in hammocks, read eleven books, cooked dinner, swept the composting toilets daily, rarely thought about social media, and conquered my ego/performative/"fears" of teaching large group yoga classes. It felt uncomfortable at first, to slow down so much. After a couple of weeks, I became very skilled and confident in claiming my nap times, solo time, and early bedtimes.
Flash forward nine months to September 2018; I'm laying on my floor in my apartment- uncomfortable, agitated, and self-critical. How could I have missed this piece about relaxation? Where did I fall off? What has my practice even been? Mostly chaturanga? Definitely not that! But how could I be so bad at leading myself into relaxation but claim to lead others?
I spiraled into the rabbit hole of judgy-ness. When I popped out on the other side I committed to unlocking ease and restfulness in my body/mind/heart/spirit. I was going to be miserable and physically constantly in pain if I didn’t.
At first, the memories of my two months in Costa Rica was the doorway rest. I’d lay on my floor and imagined I was there. Sights, sounds, smells.
As I re-shaped my relaxation habits I began collecting more inspiration from my friends who teach Yin and Restorative classes, the paradigm-shifting Nap Ministry, acupuncture, the transformational Somatic Respiratory Integration work done in Network Care Chiropracty, a trip to Puerto Rico to see family, and from Adrienne Maree Brown's book "Pleasure Activism."
This isn’t a blog about a cure. No doubt the pain in my back has transformed from constant gripping pain into a warning siren that will light me up with pain when I need to slow down, say no, leave immediately, or speak up. Instead consider this my story about listening and rest.
The more I respond to my body's request for rest, the more clearly I understand my needs in the present and my desires for the future. From resting I created my second year of leading a three part Writing+Yoga workshop, I visioned my future as a graduate student in Somatic Psychology, and the freshest from the rest oven of dreams is the Ritual of Rest series.
My intention for the Ritual of Rest series in Oakland (and maybe beyond, retreat in Costa Rica anyone???) is to bring folks together in an inclusive, delightful, light hearted, and easeful experience of collective rest and deep listening.
I'm thrilled to be hosting the first ever Ritual of Rest this Summer Solstice June 22nd from 7pm-9pm at Anasa Yoga. I will be leading breath work and restorative yoga, and my co-host Sima Kavary will lead us in a magical healing crystal grid mediation. Tickets are on sale now!
I am so excited to offer this event as a portal to your inner wisdom, radical visions for your presence and wellness in the future and as support for your continued courageous action in the world. .
I'd love to see you there!