“Today we’re going to slow it down. A lot.”
Those are the words my yoga instructor said, excitedly, at the beginning of my yoga class this week. Inside, I groaned. I hadn’t stepped foot inside my yoga studio since February – I got in to a car wreck on my birthday, was running around like crazy in March and was just plain lazy in April. My crazy work life has taken over my personal life. I know it’s all excuses, but just getting to my yoga studio this week was a success in my opinion.
I love my yoga instructor because she always takes time to talk to us before we begin our class. I get there early so I can score a good spot, and I always watch as she walks around the room and greets each individual, checking in with their pain or their happiness for the week. Then, once class has started, she explains why she chose the particular “theme” for the class.
This week’s theme was slow. Painfully slow. Painfully painfully slow.
As she was talking, she explained her concept of “self”.
“What is self? It’s not your job, it’s not your roles, it’s not your name. It’s who you are, deep down in to your core. It’s your consciousness.”
I light up. For the first time since she said we were going to slow it down, I get excited for this class. I feel a big ‘ole resounding YES in my core. I am NOT my job. I’m not just a counselor. I’m not just a wife. I’m not just a daughter and a sister and an aunt and a friend and a puppy/kitty mom. I’m just me. I’m here. I’m me.
I had forgotten. I had let my job take over my whole concept of me.
So, she started walking us through our asanas. We start by laying on our backs and slowing down our breath. A lot. I mean, really, a lot. We incorporate some arm movements to open up our chest and back. It’s indeed painfully slow. My yoga instructor is sitting there counting to 6 for each inhale and 6 for each exhale. By the time she gets to 3, I’m already done so I’m holding my breath. I think I’m going to pass out.
“Is it really that I’m always moving this fast,” I think to myself, as I hear the other students sighing out their exhales for 6 loooooooooong breaths while I’m laying here, dying. “Maybe this is why I always feel so much tension and stress while I’m working.”
The past two weeks, I have billed for a ridiculously high number of sessions. Way more than normal. I’m going, going, going, going, going. Like the energizer bunny, for real. It’s because summer is about to hit and I know it’s going to slow down, so I’m cramming as many sessions in for my licensing hours before that happens. But I’m so tired. I don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. I know once June hits I’ll be able to breathe again, but will I be able to breathe all the way to 6? And what if I don’t make it to June without passing out from holding my breath?
After some really slow breathing, we are instructed to move to down dog, and eventually through our sun salutations. Each asana is held for about 5 long breaths. It’s torture. I’m so used to just flowing through sun salutations that it’s making my brain itch to hold each pose for that long (especially chaturanga). But by the third or fourth time of going through it this slow, I notice that my breath has naturally slowed down to that really slow pace. And I start to melt. You know that feeling in yoga where you just melt in to your mat? Oh, boy, did I melt. I felt like jello. Just a relaxed, mushy, blissful piece of jello. I literally felt the tension that I hold in my shoulders leave my body.
That class, slowing down, was exactly what I needed. Yoga is like this magical thing that knows what you need before you even really know. It’s like a trusty friend saying, “Hey, I see you struggling there. Don’t worry, I got you. Let me take your load for a minute.” It’s really and truly amazing.
Sometimes, I think counseling is like that. I had someone ask me a few weeks ago if I ever took my client’s problems home with me. We were discussing how my job as a counselor is to, what I like to say, “take on a part of your hurt so it doesn’t hurt you as much anymore.” I’m happy to pick up a piece of your baggage and carry it around for you. After they asked me that question, I had to stop and think. It feels like it doesn’t always come home with me. I have a routine for my commute home that generally helps leave my work at work. But that yoga class? Where I melted? I really and truly feel like that “melting” was my client’s hurts leaving my body. I was thinking about this later in the week – is that melting what my clients feel in our sessions? I can visibly see my clients relaxing (or melting) after just unloading some of their pain on me. Then, only after they have “melted”, can we begin to dig deep in to the solutions and explore and being to move forward.
Again and again and again I am in awe of how much yoga and counseling are alike. They are one in the same. Yoga is my therapy, and it helps me take on my client’s pain, if only for a little while. Then, I melt it away. Either on my yoga mat, or in my writing, or during my weekly bubble baths, or through my walks with Regina, or through crazy dance sessions to ridiculous pop songs. We all need to find a way to melt away the pain.
What makes you melt? How do you take care of your self?
“All summer we just hurried; so come over, just be patient, and don’t worry…” – Coldplay
Until next time,
Happy OM’ing and namaste. ❤