Stretching And Detaching

“Relax your mind, let your body go soft.”

 

The rise and fall in Ajan’s voice gently calmed as we all laid on our backs with legs outstretched up and against the wall, arms splayed out at our sides.

Easier said than done, I thought to myself. I was supposed to be concentrating and visualizing the fluids rushing down my legs to my abdomen, but I couldn’t. As hard as I tried, I could only visualize one thing.

This blog post.

I etched Ajan’s words into my brain and tried hard to remember in what order we did each pose. I debated the exact word to describe how the muscles in my neck felt as my head moved left while my body stretched right. Was it “invigorating” or just plain “agonizing”?

Blogging, and specifically, writing about my reaction to new places and experiences, has notably changed the way I travel. I now have a hard time just letting go and enjoying. I spend a lot of time in my own head, thinking of how to capture specific moments in words and searching for what my opening line will be.

 

“Each yoga pose is a journey. To explore

 

and learn about yourself.”

 

Yoga in Marbella

We stretched out with the bolster under our backs and our legs pulled up such that the bottoms of our feet were pressed together.

I felt exposed, with my arms reached out on either side, my legs spread and hips raised at the bottom of the bolster, my chest also raised and open. A far cry from being hunched over the laptop, typing, writing, editing, reading, tweeting. And lately, I feared that this crowded and closed posture has been symbolic of my writing as well – guarded, and at times, superficial.

 

“This is a time for feeling not thinking.”

 

I thought of the massage menu in our room, and the Dhara massage that was listed to specifically help with the ailment of “excessive thinking“. One that I regularly suffer from, one that keeps me awake, one that causes me to nitpick and edit relentlessly.

Clearly, I needed this.

Pete and I both entered the yoga retreat with big expectations to improve our state of being both with the yoga, and with unplugging from technology completely during our stay. We needed to recharge, we needed to get back to just enjoying an experience for what it is. Our first session of Yoga in Marbella told the tale of how badly this was needed; my mind was constantly turning, looking for my story, my spin on the experience.

During shavasana, the last few minutes meant for deep relaxation, I was restless still. My eyebrow twitched, my right arm felt tortured in it’s stagnant position. I was disappointed in myself for my inability to relax, to let go, to feel the new light that Ajan kept saying was pushing through my veins to every limb.

Lotus Blooming - Meditation

When it was over, I immediately returned to the comforts of my room, listened to the bubbling fountain just outside, and banished Pete so I could write. I needed some time to sit, hunched over my notebook, and move Ajan’s words from my brain to paper.

I stretched and stood. Despite what my brain did to me during the session, my body responded positively. I felt a little taller. A little lighter.

I still had a long way to go. But I was confident Ajan would get me there.

**********

Many thanks to Caroline and her staff for our stay at the Lotus Blooming Yoga & Ayuverda retreat in Marbella, Spain! While our stay was sponsored, all opinions, as always, are our own. For a full review and plenty of pictures from around the retreat, please click here.

51 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • January 16 2012

    I have just started a 30 day yoga challenge to get me back where I used to be with the practice but I also realized I want to do more yoga vacations. Nice to see one offered in Spain, perhaps next time I am there…
    Ayngelina recently posted..Girl Geek Dinners

    • January 16 2012

      We had never done anything like this before but had always wanted to. SO glad we did…you would really love it there. So home-y, so comfortable, with such amazing staff and food!

  • January 16 2012

    I’ve always wanted to do a retreat like this, but it sort of scares me. Meditation and I are like oil and water, and I can never seem to turn my brain off. I even took a semester long course on meditation and was no better at the end! Le sigh. I wish there was and “off” switch for my brain. 🙂

    • January 16 2012

      There is! It’s in there somewhere, I swear. Although, a semester long course? What an awesome way to get school credit! 🙂

  • January 16 2012

    Don’t you think that maybe you should stop blogging? I don’t know it’s just a question. Sometimes I feel the same wa as you. I mean, I go somewhere (like Sumo Tournament) and enjo the thing or the place, but most of the time I am just thinking about what I can write, which kind of photos will be great to go with, …. But still loving it so it’s ok
    tunimaal recently posted..Cosplay Interview: Coh the newbie cosplayer – August 21st 2011

    • January 16 2012

      Valid question – but it has never crossed my mind to stop. We all have had jobs that give us a little burnout, and in past jobs I have vowed to quit (or, just quit!) This time, that desire is not there at all. I love blogging, I really do, and even though it burns me out sometimes, the positives WAY outweigh those times. 🙂

  • January 16 2012

    I spent a week at an ashram in India and it took the first 2 or 3 days to really even begin to shut my brain off.

    Every time I did a yoga pose, I kept focusing on creating clever descriptors to use in my blog later on…and not the pose itself. Big mistake!

    I got SO much more out of the sessions once I learned to mentally power-off my blog-brain and focus on my yoga-brain.

    Who knew that NOT thinking would be such hard work!?
    Sarah recently posted..What Wes Anderson Forgot to Mention about Train Travel in India

    • January 16 2012

      EXACTLY! It seems so simple, to just “shut off a brain”, but it is so much easier said than done. Glad to know that I am not the only one trying to focus on the creative descriptions. 🙂

      (And spoiler alert for the next blog post, it took me until day 3. 🙂 )

  • January 16 2012

    I love the idea of a yoga vacation! I am heading to Spain later in the year so might have to have a think about this – just checked out the site of the retreat you visited and it looks wonderful. Good luck with clearing your head and finding that relaxation you are after.
    Cherina recently posted..Coming Home: How to Cope When Your Adventure is Over?

    • January 17 2012

      Cherina – I hope you do make it there – it comes highly recommended! It was revolutionary for us.

  • January 17 2012

    I totally understand how difficult it can be to “turn off” sometimes – especially when you’re constantly on the lookout for a new angle or your next blog post. But you can do it!!
    Amanda recently posted..My Night in Prison

    • January 17 2012

      Thanks! I didn’t think it would at all be possible but I managed to get there (spoiler alert for next post – haha!) and I have managed to keep fairly zen about it all since then. It was worth every second of our time there, I’m excited to go back someday!

  • Kim
    January 16 2012

    I so totally understand this and I don’t know how to fix it but here are two words of advice that I try (or am going to try) myself. First, when you head to a new location or have a few days planned out tell yourself that you won’t blog about it. Give yourself a free pass to just experience instead of document. Second, trust your memory. Blog about the way an experience changed you instead of the experience itself. Sometimes figuring out how it impacted you takes time and distance so experience, let it go, then travel back to it in your mind later… and then write about it.

    Either way, that technology break sounds sublime.
    Kim recently posted..Our U.S. National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

    • January 16 2012

      Very solid advice Kim! Generally I do follow rule number one, but with the Croatia-Slovenia-Italy job (which was, essentially, almost a 38 day press trip), we put higher expectations on what we wanted to accomplish. Let’s just say we learned A LOT about our-blogging-selves on that trip!

      And your second point is something I know I struggle with. Mostly because my memory has proven she is not to be trusted. 🙂

      The technology break was the best thing we could have done for ourselves at that point. That is going to happen A LOT more in the future.

  • January 18 2012

    DEF wanna do a yoga retreat sometime! This is awesome!
    Candice Walsh recently posted..G is for Guinness, T is for Textured Butter Balls

    • January 18 2012

      It really, really was awesome. I miss it everyday.

  • January 18 2012

    I started an “intro to yoga” class a a couple of weeks ago! It’s my first time ever doing Yoga and I’m already 2 classes in but I still can’t decide if it is for me or not.

    However every time I think about going on a Yoga retreat I think about the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” and I want to go to a place like that and be the girl that takes the vow of no speech for a week or a month…. that would be interesting to try 🙂
    cailin recently posted..How to Have a Proper Moose Fry Up

    • January 18 2012

      Ooh – Pete and I have talked a lot about wanting to do that too at some point, a week or so of no talking. I don’t think he could do it. 🙂

  • January 18 2012

    I find yoga is the only time I can just be in the moment and tune everything else out … the blog posts, the thoughts of work. It’s hard to turn off your mind, especially when you know you are going to write about it. I had a similar experience recently where I was doing yoga in an underwater room with dolphins swimming by. I kept thinking of what I wanted to write about instead of actually just experiencing it. It’s a fine line.
    dtravelsround recently posted..Escape of the Week: The pyramids of Giza, Egypt

    • January 18 2012

      Ooh – I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate either! Dolphins! What a cool experience. I think that we were just so wound up from the previous marathon 40 days of travel that there was no way I would have found relaxation in that first session. Thankfully, I found it later on.

  • Alouise
    January 18 2012

    One of my University instructors was talking about the double life of a writer. How you can do something, but still in the back of your mind is this voice saying, “oh that would be a great story.” I think it’s important to quiet that voice, once in a while. I still haven’t figured out how. I hope you’ll get to.

    • January 18 2012

      So the University instructor didn’t tell you HOW to quiet the voice?? Damn! Haha, the last few days of the retreat really helped quiet my mind, but I do need to figure out how to do this myself. Can’t be running to Spain every few months, as much as I would LOVE to! 🙂

  • January 18 2012

    I often find myself in the same situation as you – often I’ll see things through the eyes of “how can I blog about this”. But I do happen to love documenting what’s going on around me and in my travels, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s just a question of finding the balance that works for you, and managing to disconnect enough to experience the experiences as they happen.
    Laurence recently posted..In photos: Wolfe Creek Meteor Crater

    • January 18 2012

      Balance is the absolute key – and finding it in those first few sessions was near impossible for me. I am like you, I love documenting as I go because I think I learn and retain more from the experience, but sometimes I’m just too far gone.

  • January 18 2012

    Amazing! I really want to take up Yoga on my next trip. I haven’t done it ever and I’m a bit nervous, but also excited!
    Hogga recently posted..Your Sushi Blows

    • January 19 2012

      I was nervous too, knowing that I was pretty inexperienced, but Ajan and Lima were really great at accommodating us newbies, yet at the same time working well with the more advanced people in our group. Now that I know that, I would return over and over again. It was such an awesome experience.

  • January 19 2012

    This sounds great! I love yoga and I’m trying to get back in shape before heading to south east asia next month!!! This yoga vacation sounds amazing and I gotta keep it in mind if I need a little yoga vacation in Europe!
    Sebastian recently posted..Castles of Transylvania

    • January 19 2012

      I hope it works out that you do make it there someday…Caroline and her staff are so wonderful…you would not be disappointed!

  • I can completely relate to this post. I’ve never really been able to do the “mind” part of yoga, and now that I am blogging about my experiences, I know it would be hopeless.

    I guess that’s why I run. It’s the opposite. I allow my mind to do whatever it wants and forget about what my body is doing.

    • January 22 2012

      That strategy might actually make me enjoy running. Although my mind would still need the rest!

  • January 21 2012

    See, this is something that I had never considered before…
    Federico recently posted..The Best Beaches in Oahu, Hawaii

    • January 22 2012

      You should! I believe that even yoga novices would totally get something substantial out of it. 🙂

  • Abby
    January 21 2012

    Learning to let go will be a life-long journey, my friend. 🙂

    • January 22 2012

      Ohhhhhhh yes. Don’t we all know it! 🙂

  • January 22 2012

    So true. Writing about travel really does change the way you travel … it’s almost like “work” sometimes and you forget to let go and enjoy. Hope you were able to find that at the retreat!

  • January 22 2012

    I have yet to try yoga and am a bit scared I will admit. The relaxing thing is mainly what I’m concerned about – that and my inflexible body.
    Erica recently posted..Over Yonderlust’s Travel A-Z

    • January 23 2012

      I noticed some big improvements in my flexibility in just a few days! It will definitely help with that, and the instructors were really great at helping us poor saps get into good position when we struggled. 🙂

  • January 23 2012

    So glad you guys got to do a yoga retreat, too!!! They are the perfect way to really explore yoga and get away from day-to-day stresses.
    Emily @ Maiden Voyage recently posted..An Overview of Poland for Travelers

    • January 23 2012

      Thanks Emily, so glad we did it too! If only I had known about the wonders of this sort of thing YEARS ago! You can bet we will be doing this again!

  • Gary
    January 22 2012

    It is 5 years since I quit my job and went backpacking as a 50 yr old and avoided virtually all technology. Just walked for hours, met and enjoyed new company….took pics. 5yrs on and I am about to go again but not alone this time. Stilling the mind seems to be the most difficult thing in the universe!!! As for documenting what happened … well I am just now chronicling events, cataloguing my pics and refreshing my memories. Should I have spent more time writing then? Mmmm well I would not have doen so much walking and certainly not have met so many interesting people so perhaps there is a happy medium? ANd even if you haven’t got the right balance then you can enjoy the reflection later…. besides… we always remember the good things!!! Now isn’t that what we should all be striving for?

    Peace… Gary 🙂

    • January 23 2012

      Absolutely! Sometimes I wish for a time in my travels when I didn’t have all this blogging stuff to work on, but then all this blogging has also opened doors as well, plus, I really enjoy it! So, you’re right, there needs to be a happy medium, I just struggle with finding it sometimes. 🙂

  • Laura
    January 23 2012

    I really want to do a yoga retreat this year. I didn’t know about this one in Spain. It can be really hard sometimes to let go and I usually get some good days where everything clicks and some bad days where my mind never stops. I think we just need to try our best with what we’re working with that day.

    • January 23 2012

      You’re absolutely right Laura. By the time we checked into the yoga retreat though, I needed help, I really did. My mind just wouldn’t stop, and I can’t believe what a difference it made. It is now almost the end of Jan (yeah, our blog is really behind), and I still feel so very “zen” from it all. I am sticking with my commitment to get off the technology once a week, and I am so much happier for it!

  • January 25 2012

    You should have tweeted some pics from the class. Now that would have been an awesome statement! L)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Manado, Monkeys and Moonshine

    • January 25 2012

      Haha! That might have been slightly defeating the purpose, but I’ll keep it in mind for next time. 🙂

  • January 30 2012

    I’ve wanted to try yoga now for a while. I think it would help me get over the stiffness and injuries I suffered playing competitive contact sports growing up.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Top Three Things to Do in Arizona

    • January 31 2012

      I have so many injuries and stiffness from so many different things, and just that 5 days of yoga did me wonders. I also have arthritis in my spine which means I should be doing it way more often then I am.

  • February 6 2012

    I went to a three day buddhist retreat once I did not really enjoy it though. I would love to try a yoga retreat though 🙂
    James – Ouroyster.com recently posted..Budget Travel In Santorini Greece

  • Theodora
    March 16 2012

    Amen to this, Dalene. I have to really struggle to let go of the visual/verbal aspect of experience and just experience it.

  • I was a faithful yoga student going every Monday night for a year. In that time, I was able to clear my mind exactly one time. That’s a lot of attempts to get to a destination only once. However, that one time with no thoughts was blissful and my 90 min session had me feeling as if I had just come back from a 4 day vacation.

    Clearing your mind is a really hard thing to do. Be kind to yourself.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..10 Things Wikipedia Won’t Tell You About the Origins of Easter

    • April 10 2012

      Thanks Mary. I think I am due for another of these retreats to clear my mind!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

css.php