self love

What I Learned at Our Yoga Retreat

Last week’s Yoga Retreat was such a great growth experience… for me. Don’t get me wrong, after 4 years doing this, I’ve gotten pretty good at organizing a retreat. And Angela, Stacy, and I prepared our hearts out to deliver interesting and relevant content to our participants.

The logistics were fine and everything went (pretty much) according to plan, but the difference this year is that for the first time, I was able to check out every once in a while to recharge my own batteries.

When we come back from our retreats, people always ask me, “How did it go?! Did you have fun?!” and “How was your vacation?!” And the truth is that it is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. There’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.

And this year, maybe because I’m more experienced at running a retreat, or maybe because I’ve grown in my personal practice, or maybe because we had three teachers instead of two, or maybe because of all these reasons, I was able to take some breaks.

I spent quiet time drinking tea and reading on my balcony. I took a nap. I hung out on the beach. Initially I felt a little guilty not being present with the retreat participants every single minute, but then I realized I was doing both me and them a favor. By taking care of myself, I could do a better job teaching and facilitating discussions with them. My brain was sharper, I was a better listener, I was more dialed in.

This reminds me of a story I shared at the retreat. When I worked at HP many years ago, I had a French manager. She was a very smart lady and a gifted leader. She had a unique philosophy for our team: She wanted us to NOT be busy 100% of the time. She wanted us to have downtime so that we could think and dream and de-stress and recharge our batteries. At that time I thought it was pretty cool and revolutionary. Now, I realize she was teaching us good self care.

And that’s why this retreat was such an important growth experience for me. For the first time, I experienced first hand, with immediate consequence, the result of checking out and taking a short, deep rest. It’s made me rethink my whole over-scheduled existence. It’s even made me ponder the quantity of my children’s extra-curricular activities.

Our society values productivity and accomplishment over everything else, but what about happiness, contentedness, peacefulness, and enjoyment of life? Just like everything, there needs to be a balance. (Just like in the Yoga asana practice - a balance of effort and ease.)

So I’m going to keep an eye out for myself. I’m going to pay attention to when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed and I’m going to look for an opportunities to take breaks. I’m going to look over my schedule and make sure there’s a balance of work and rest. And I’m going to plan a week at the beach, this time for my family, so that we can have a good dose of downtime before the school year starts up again.

I’d love to hear about how you keep an eye out for yourself (or how you’re going to start!). How do you create a balance of effort and ease in your life?

zelinda hat XO, Zelinda


Be Kind. All The Time.

Something's been weighing on my heart this week. There's a boy in one of my kids classes who is usually kind of loud. He causes a good amount of disruption and I very frequently have to redirect his focus and bring him back to whatever lesson we're working on.

Well this week, when we were working on some challenging poses, I realized he expressed doubt, uncertainty, and frustration every time I provided an instruction. He kept saying, "Ugh! I can't do that!"

So, just as I do in all my classes, I asked him to be more kind with himself. I reminded him that it doesn't matter what the pose looks like, what's important is how it feels. I asked him to try *less* hard.

Be Kind

I wanted him to find some ease. I wanted him to find a version of each posture that made him feel like he was doing a good job.

He seemed to get the concept of being kind with himself, and he was able to do more poses without complaint. But every once in a while I'd hear, "Ugh! I can't do that!" So I'd gently remind him again to Be Kind with himself, not worry about what he thinks the pose is supposed to look like, and find a version that feels good for his body.

A little later he suddenly said, "My dad says I'm not good at any sport. I've played a lot of sports and I'm not good at any of them." And my heart broke a little. I didn't know what to say.

After a few minutes I asked him what sport he plays now. He told me he plays lacrosse. Then I asked him what does HE think he does well in lacrosse. He said that he thinks he's a good catcher. So I said, "Well, there you go! YOU are a good catcher in lacrosse! You ARE a good catcher in lacrosse! You are!" And I nodded and smiled to appear as convincing as possible.

I told him to remember what makes him feel good about himself, and to not worry too much about what other people think.

And this got me thinking about how almost everybody (myself included), even if we know better, sometimes we lose track of ourselves and we listen to the negative things people say about us. Without realizing what we're doing, we take those negative comments and adopt them as our truth. We start to believe the bad things.

If we're lucky, we might have a moment of clarity and realize that the negative person is probably dealing with their own stuff, and their negative comment really doesn't have anything to do with us. But probably more often we hold on to those negative comments and allow them to hurt and damage us in a variety of ways.

So I started to think about the yogic advice I gave this sweet boy: Be Kind. And I realized that we all need to Be Kind. All The Time. Be kind with ourselves. Be kind with others. Especially, Be Kind With Kids. Because we're forming their perception of themselves, and they deserve to love themselves.

How can you Be Kind? Pay attention and notice what you do well and be proud and love yourself for doing those things well. Pay attention to what others do well and compliment them on the things they do well. I promise, this will make your whole life better. And I bet your kindness will rub off on other people and they'll want to Be Kind, too.

As for the boy in my class, I realize now that the reason he was creating so much disruption was to distract me and his classmates from his perceived lack of ability in yoga. He was being a clown to avoid participating. But now I'm onto him.

I'm going to Be Kind with him and, through yoga, I'm going to teach him how to Be Kind with himself. And I think that as he learns to Be Kind with himself, his behavior is going to change and he's going to be more focused during his practice. And I hope that over time, he'll become such an expert at Being Kind that when anyone tries to tell him something negative, it'll roll right off his back.


XO, Zelinda

P.S. When I told my friend Pichi about this story, she remembered this video she saw recently. You should check it out. It's perfect.