By Alicia Stevens
It takes a lot of courage to surrender, to let go, to know when to say when. Most of our lives, we have listened to other voices urging us to go on, to give that little bit extra to see our reward. Sometimes it’s exactly what we need to hear–a little prop to hold us up when we were sure our next breath would be our last. Other times, because “stopping” sounds like “giving up,” and we think failure resembles death, we stay in situations far too long and the clean-up gets messy.
All along, we have another option. All along, another voice says, “Enough. Game over. Buh-bye.” But that voice whispers whereas the one to persevere at all costs screams. Eventually, if we listen to it long enough, that drill sergeant voice can embed itself in our consciousness and uproot the softer one, the voice that knows your limits, protects your boundaries and takes care of you.
Pretty soon, we find ourselves in yoga class and, despite our best efforts to keep our egos at the door, the tyrant comes along for the ride. It pushes us to drag ourselves to the 14th class this week and power through that 108th Vinyasa or those 90 minutes of 110° misery when all we really want to do, if we can even admit it to ourselves at that point, is to relax, to take a break, to retreat.
How we treat ourselves during the set-aside moments of our yoga practice holds a mirror to how we treat ourselves in general. When everything in our bodies cries out for a rest and we allow ourselves to get down on our knees and melt into balasana (child’s pose), we display a far greater strength than if we had forced ourselves to stand tall and soldier on.
Going on a Yoga Retreat is like one big child’s pose for life. Retreating empowers us. In those moments, we take time out to distinguish between everyone else’s opinions and our own. We honor our needs. We discover what makes our heart beat faster, what makes us come alive. We put ourselves first, get to know ourselves better and claim independence–one of the most powerful strengths we can ever possess.
About the author: Alicia Stevens teaches vinyasa flow yoga in paradise–her hometown of Sarasota, Florida and home of the #1 beach in the US. After traveling, living and studying yoga abroad in some of the largest cities and most remote locales on the globe, she wound her way back and began teaching. Blending yoga’s mystery with its practicality, Alicia explores how yoga changes our lives when we let go and let in. Her approach to yoga helps make it accessible, life-affirming and fun.