Walking down the path to our 7am breakfast with fellow Lululemon’ed up fitness pros Jen Sinkler and Neghar Fonooni, I turned to them and said, “You know, this trip is an example of something I would normally never do.”
It was Day 4 of a 6-day yoga retreat in Sedona, AZ and we were 5 classes into out 11-class week. Following the numerous 90-min classes and endless mindset talks, I was sore, mentally drained, sweaty (again) and for some strange reason, elated at the whole ironic experience. Ironic because:
a) I don’t do yoga. Ever.
b) I had never met Neghar nor Jen in real life and here I am sharing a triple room with them (reminded me of the “resort” in Dirty Dancing–see pic below)
c) It was a Pescatarian menu at the retreat–aka no red meat, poultry (or bacon)
d) I am a huge antisocial introvert who had purposely signed up to engage in extroverted activity for 6 days straight. Huh?
Why was I elated despite all that? … Because I was getting my ass handed to me, and it was just the challenge I guess I needed.
Seriously, 90-min yoga classes twice daily is rough. Especially for someone who doesn’t practice, and could arguably be the tightest person on earth. And though I probably wouldn’t recommend someone throwing themselves into it the way I did, I can’t help but feel grateful for the way it turned my usual M.O. completely upside down for a week.
Sooooo out of my comfort zone. Refreshingly so. And to the point of absolute HUMILITY. Looking back, I can honestly say I am grateful to have been humbled because the experience taught me so much, including:
Say yes to experiences.
When Jen and Neghar reached out to ask me to room with them, I wasn’t planning on going. It was going to be too uncomfortable, too social and besides, how could I get away from work for a week? But for whatever reason, I ended up saying yes. I am so glad I did. I met two incredible women with whom I had much in common and we became good friends in such a short period of time, bonding over such an unexpected experience. I am grateful for the courage to say yes, following through with the trip and coming out stronger and better because of it.
When you feel yourself getting scared about trying a new way of exercising, that is a clue that you need to try it.
I honestly thought I hated yoga. It was a joke among my fit friends and me. I thought, Yoga is for people who don’t want to lift. Super-niave on my part and now I can see I was covering up for the fact that I was being a complete coward and not giving it a shot. I let my insecurity about how inflexible I was convince me that it was not worth trying. But the retreat was just the challenge I needed to yank myself out of my rut and break down my mental barriers to new modes of exercise. And I am so grateful. I am now more open to new experiences in exercise because of it. Who knows? Maybe Zumba is next :)
Get over yourself.
After the first night at the retreat and our first practice, I found myself having feelings of not being good enough, and feeling undeserving of being there. I justified my feelings saying, “I am the least flexible. These ladies have been practicing for years.”–statements that were actually true. But I was using those statements to justify why I had no business being there. My story was I don’t fit in, I am behind the rest, I should have practiced more before I got there, etc.
Has this ever happened to you? You want to join a gym or try some new class but feel like you need to “get in better shape” before you do? Well, that’s a crock of BS, because the only way you can get better is by throwing yourself in the mix, making mistakes and leaning into the struggle. I found myself making up the story that people were judging me because I was the least flexible. I was shaming myself. And maybe they were (though I don’t think so), but who cares? My experience wasn’t about them. It was about me, learning a new skill and getting out of my comfort zone. By the end of day 2, I had learned to tune out my insecurities and just enjoy the personal process of getting better.
Practicing :) Left: Neghar doing a wall split. Center: Jen in a full handstand. Right: Me, attempting a bind
Don’t be afraid to be you, and be vulnerable.
I was the most inflexible of everyone there. After I got over myself and kicked the story that I wasn’t good enough to the curb, I was able to embrace the experience and just be myself. I didn’t have to try to be anything I wasn’t. I didn’t have to impress anyone. I was able to open myself up to learning, growing and forming genuine friendships. I just said eff it, I’m going to do my thing, and as a result, in addition to deepening my yoga practice, Jen, Neghar and I had an absolute blast together. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.
Looking for the Big Dipper with Jen. The sky was so incredibly CLEAR!
Stress can hinder results.
I didn’t lift of do cardio for 8 days while I was gone. Instead, I did yoga 2-3 hours each day, walked a lot, ate clean, detoxed alcohol, sweets and shakes/bars, meditated, journaled, read and relaxed with the beautiful Sedona landscape in the background. I came back 5 lbs lighter. And not that it’s about the scale because my weight doesn’t dictate my self-worth, but the experience was a testament to the fact that stress reduction techniques can impact results. Reducing stress can be the missing link in the physique chain, and if we are doing everything “right” with diet and exercise and not seeing results, it might be time to incorporate even 10 minutes of restorative activity into our day. A 6-day yoga retreat might be a little overkill :) but it seems to have done the trick for me.
At the resort, the beautiful plateaus of Sedona (Photo: Jen Sinkler)
Ha! Yes! I semi-fell in love with yoga :) Not that I am going to go practice in India or anything, but 4 days later, I actually miss it and I am going to start at a studio here 2x/week and incorporate it into my weekly regimen. At the very least, it’s a great stretch and at the best, it challenges my physique in new ways and helps me grow a deeper connection with how my body moves. All good things! I’ll let you know how it goes :)
Related: Beating Body Dissatisfaction