This past week I had an amazing experience at a yoga retreat in the southern Thailand island of Koh Samui. Over the years I have visited Thailand many times and I always enjoy my visits. The scenery is beautiful, the food is tasty and the Thai people are amazing. On top of all of this I got to practice yoga and meditation for a week in a beautiful resort.
I unintentionally started doing yoga about half a year ago and I found that I liked it. However this is the first time that I have dedicated time to consistently practicing yoga. At this retreat I tried different yoga styles including Asatanga, core, gentle flow, hatha, detox, yin and restorative yoga. All styles had their own benefits. Every day, first thing in the morning there was a meditation class, which was a great way to start the day. It was only 30 minutes but I found it very beneficial to start the day focusing on how I felt internally. Like most people I usually start the day by thinking about all the things I have to do. Work, meetings, phone calls, problems, etc… By starting the day with meditation I was able to check in with myself and see where I was emotionally, mentally and physically. I found it interesting how clearing my mind of all of the normal inner chatter made for a more enjoyable and productive day. Having “no mind” made things more clear.
During one of the yoga classes the instructor started by asking everyone if they wanted to dedicated the class to someone? It could have been someone we cared about or ourselves. I thought how the questions could be applied to other events in life. For example, “I dedicate this dinner to my parents who spent the time and effort preparing the meal” or “I dedicate this meeting to myself because I spend a lot of time and effort researching the necessary information”. By dedicating a moment to others or to ourselves we acknowledge and validate the moment and the person. This makes the moment bigger than us and consequently more meaningful to everyone involved.
When the class ended the instructor asked us to thank ourselves for the practice of the class. I also thought how this could be applied to other situation. For example thanking myself for a making myself available for a friend in need. How often to we acknowledging ourselves for doing something well? I don’t mean being arrogant, rather simply appreciating ourselves for doing something well. Most of the time we are our own worst critic and after an event we focus on what we did wrong or what we could have done better.
I found that meditation and yoga are tools that I can use to clear my mind and journey inward to tap internal mental and emotional resources. For me the main take away from this week was how to use meditation and yoga to get in touch with myself and improve my life.