The Nature & Nurture Retreats are something I am so proud to have curated. I always intend to bring together the best of nature (thank you to the weather gods!) and time for participants to be nurtured as well and not just physically.
It’s funny though how nurturing through yoga asana practice and through workshops can bring up the ego. I don’t believe its because the people are egotistical, in fact, usually quite the opposite. The ego is sneaky. It likes to keep us safe, to stop us from pushing to far out of our comfort zone. It also likes to convince us that we’re not good enough if we don’t do something. In short- it can hold us back.
When I was in a class once I was determined to do a bind(a way of increasing the complexity of the a pose). It was not happening. My teacher could see that I was angry and frustrated and just quietly came over and told me ‘relax’ or something to that effect.
When we were on retreat we did practices that lead us to a peak pose on the final day. We built our body up to where it needed to be opening our hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and other body parts. Each time as I looked out at the class, I could see those who were ‘pushing harder’ and those who were just being where they were at. Now this isn’t about right or wrong, it was an observation, and for me as a teacher it was a perfect teaching moment.
Give yourself permission to accept where your body can be at any given moment.
Give yourself permission to be where you are in any given moment.
Whenever we are pushing something, when we are forcing it to happen we are in the ego. When we are in a pose and we are trying avidly to get deeper or balance longer when the body is saying no, we are in the ego. When we’re having an argument with our partner and we are just determined to be right and do not let up, we are in the ego.
When I saw how these women opened and relaxed the more I made comments about listening to the body, giving themselves permission to not go as far as they could rather as far as their body wanted to or letting them know that how they show up on their mat is different everyday, the more I saw a group of women nurture themselves.
In our workshops, we pondered the question ‘where am I being drawn to?’. It was about drawing in our energy so that our energy wasn’t squandered on things that weren’t serving us, things that we had outgrown or things we were forgetting that we really wanted to spend more time doing.
It was not as easy as it sounds. Again, the ego is brilliant at telling you not to do things. Not to write down that dream because its too big or you don’t know how (to keep you safe). Slowly but surely ideas were written down and I could see the light in their eyes as they realised maybe I can do this. Later on we went through aligning what you want, creating the intention and then taking action(the scary part!). This gave these women opportunity to discuss these ideas, to look at their approach differently and to really look forward to what they really wanted. They had permission to not let the ego drive their decisions.
Now, lets be clear, the ego has its uses-as I said it keeps you safe-but it doesn’t have to drive your life. It can be the passenger.
Back to the pose I was doing in class….when the teacher told me to ‘relax’ I didn’t even know that was an option. I always thought that I had to push as hard as I could all the time because without doing so I wouldn’t get to what I wanted which in this case was a yoga pose.
Isn’t that what we’re told all the time? Work hard so you’ll get what you want. When you’re nurturing yourself, just like these women were, and you’re find out that you can give yourself permission to take a step back, to listen to your body, to really consider what you really want, you then will still have to do the work but it will be in alignment for what you’re trying to do. You won’t be pushing s*** up hill doing something that’s not serving you.
That is nurturing yourself.
It’s an ever evolving practice too. Just like yoga, we have days when we want to push ourselves and it doesn’t feel good but we do it anyway. You’ll have days where actually you have to push yourself because it will be in your own best interest and then there will be days when you recognise that actually, what you’re doing is not serving you and you’ll pivot and make a better choice.
Wherever or whatever that is for you- be the observer.
Take a breath.
And ask the ego to shift to the passenger seat, because your journey is for you to create.
ps. if you want to talk more about how I could support you to do this. Flick me an email, I promise I don’t bite.