I’m a bit of a self-care junkie at times. Mostly on Sundays when I do my DIY spa day at home, including face masks, a foot sander, some kind of trashy tv-drama, and something like a hot chocolate as a treat.
The past few weeks have been really hard I’ve needed selfcare more, but done it less (always the problem, isn't it?).
I’ve recently been made a remote worker, spending about 10 hours a day, home alone with my thoughts and stresses, before my husband finally comes home to distract me. I’m a social gal - the transition has been hard for me. I want to leave the house. I need to, and I will - to walk the dogs. But beyond that, Coronavirus has me avoiding things like my gym full of germs. Usually a source of selfcare, anxiety reduction, and a happy hormone hit, it now makes me feel icky.
In an effort to prioritize selfcare, and get active in a way that doesn’t cost money (and I don’t need to touch too many things), I got a free class at my nearby yoga studio. I signed up for a quiet, small, restoration class: "75 minutes of slow stretches to ease the body." My body hurts a lot lately so this sounded divine.
In true Sara fashion I underestimated the amount of traffic. 5 minutes before class, I’m stuck in rush hour traffic, SCREAMING at other drivers, sweating profusely because I LIVE 2 MINUTES AWAY THIS SHOULDN'T HAVE TAKEN THIS LONG. Now, because this yoga studio is unfortunately the type that locks the doors to barr us irresponsible latecomers, my relaxing hour was replaced by road rage and stress, which would then end in my fear: embarrassing rejection by calm as hell yogis, frowning upon my disheveled-self at the door. It was enough to almost make me give up and drive back home, BUT, I needed selfcare time bad enough to push forth.
So I ran into the studio at 6:29 for the 6:30 class with my best FEEL-SORRY-FOR-ME-I-NEED-THIS-SO-BAD face as I whisper-yelled to the yogis at the desk, “have I made it?!?!?!?! Am I too late?!?!?!” To which they responded, “relax darling, you’re here just in time.”
I try to compose myself to walk into the tiny class of 10 people in the dark, which, to my surprise, confusion and delight, are laying with pillows and blankets. Never been in this kind of class before... cool cool cool. I set up and try to chill the f out as I can tell adrenaline is still pumping through me from my "Amazing Race Canada" trip to get here.
I’m laying beside the himalayan salt lamp and appreciative of that extra cleansing it hopefully provides.
When the yoga teacher comes in, her voice sounds very different than the one she used at the front desk. A very low, very whispery, cliche "yogi voice." I almost giggle but control myself. I quickly find out this restorative class they marked as “stretching” is barely that. Each pose is just us, laying on the pillows in different ways. I’m used to yoga that distracts my racing mind with the burn of hip stretches, so I find myself having trouble calming my brain more than usual. I’m fighting myself internally, as I go over everything I said in a call earlier, then I think about that tattoo I want but cannot afford, and I think about my next career move. *shut uppppppp Sara*
Meditation and visualization have never worked for me except this one thing: I imagine I’m looking up at a bright blue sky and every intrusive thought that comes in appears as a cloud. Then, every deep breath I take is wind that blows the cloud-thoughts away.
That makes me sound like a breathing expert right? No. In fact, I breathe so shallow in my daily life that it HURTS to take deep breaths. Sometimes when I do, my ribs crack, and my chiropractor tells me my years of anxious shallow breathing has solidified the muscles around my ribs so much, that now I am truly incapable of taking a deep breath in. I think about this fact during class and decide the reason I’m there (since we’re not even stretching like I hoped to) is just to breathe for 75 minutes.
My instructors voice IS really calming as she says stuff like,
"Remember you can’t control what’s happening around you, you can only observe it."
Which is particularly relevant to me and my dramatic employment situation at this time.
But then she counters that with stuff like,
"Feel your root chakra at your feet, and imagine a green glow coming out of your soles as you connect to the earth."
That shit doesn’t do much for me but make me giggle and send me back to thinking about work instead of listening to her weird words.
And then I’m reminded how much more relaxed everyone else in this room is, as I hear some A+ deep breaths around me and then. Farts. Gross ones.
Don’t laugh Sara don’t laugh.
I’m actually so mad they distracted my breathing with that fart.
Realizing that hating on gassy girl isn’t helping me in this moment, I try to counter my negative thoughts with this:
Maybe everyone in this room is a ball of anxiety and bad luck, and has shitty stuff going on in their lives too. And, we’re all just here in this tiny room, trying to escape reality for 75 minutes. This makes me a bit emotional as we’re doing one of those heart opening poses on the pillow, and the teacher tells us to pay attention to how our chest feels, as it can hold both love, joy, pleasure, comfort and our grief, pain, tension, frustration. Maybe I teared up a bit. Whatever.
The 75 minutes is over faster than I wanted it to be, but now it’s time for savasanaaaaaa. Honestly, the whole thing felt like savasana but I still feel giddy when they announce it’s time for, essentially, a nap. She talks us through releasing any remaining tension from our bodies, and I’m really feeling melty.
But she tops it off with,
“As you release your exhale through your nostrils, feel your nose hairs dance and sway.”
I cannot. Make. this. Stuff. Up. She lost me there. I’m laughing again, in my head, and I’m mad again at the weird distraction.
I run out of there because I can’t wait to tell my friends about the dancing nose hairs ridiculousness, but I pause in the car. You know what? I do feel fucking incredible. I went in, really sore and stressed, and I did come out with relaxed muscles and a slower heart rate. So yeah, I’m going again this weekend. I hope the next teacher doesn’t talk about my nose hairs.