A few weeks ago, I had the “chance” to have COVID. Secretly, I had made a story in my head that I would make it through the pandemic without getting it… When I least expected it, of course, it came in. The process was not too bad, but the “symptom” that marked me the most was the absolute necessity (or rather the lack of choice to anything but) to slow down. Like, truly, going s.l.o.w.
I know some of you have had this experience with the bug too. Slightly different than being tired after a long day, it felt to me as if my body, mind, and general energy were turned down, like you would turn down the sound volume. I could eat, rest, do some gentle yoga, maybe read a few pages and talk to someone for a short time, but that was it. Although it felt debilitating, it also felt like a major – and I also want to say, healthy – reset.
One of the days where I was at home and resigning myself to yet again another easy-going day, I looked outside the window and saw people seemingly busy to go to work or somewhere. In that moment, I realized how big a gap there was between my current rhythm and the society’s general rhythm. Even if I had (mild) symptoms and was officially sick, something about my slower tempo felt more optimal and more “right” to me. Yes, having taught yoga and meditation for some time now, of course I had thought about the importance of slowing down before. Yet, that day, the hammer hit the nail.
The sickness started me thinking more about how “busy” we all seem to be, or at least feel that we need to be, to keep up with the pace of our modern lives. I began to reflect more deeply about my own addiction to busyness, also called “busy-holism,” along with technology-induced stimulation and compulsion for distraction. I could see more clearly my underlying, continuous patterns of trying to figure things out, control my environment, and product something in nearly each hour of a usual non-sick day.
Slowing down, as sickness forces us to do, I noticed, can bring us to a place very similar to where meditation or yoga can lead us to. Basically, meditation and yoga are about cultivating an experience of ease with what is and who we really are. This experience is what brings forth the benefits of our practice such as peace, groundedness, and balance.
How slowing down works
In practice, yoga and meditation help us become present by lowering the noise and slowing down the pace of our thoughts, while increasing awareness of the space in and outside of us beyond the limited realm of our thoughts (“vrttis” in Sanskrit). Such deceleration of the mind brings more clarity about our self-limiting psycho-emotional patterns (“samskaras”) and an opportunity to transform them (and eventually attain liberation, “nirvana” or ”samadhi”). During the process, our nervous system learns to calm down (e.g. the nice feeling we often get after a practice) and eventually we increase our capacity to be with what life brings instead of reacting to it in the usual, unconscious way.
In the longer run, when repeated over time, yoga and meditation will make us clearer (e.g. about what feels right for us in a given moment) and more accepting of life, others, and ourselves. Only with slowing down, then, and the peace, wisdom, and acceptance it leads to, can we truly grow and evolve into better, fuller, more fulfilling versions of ourselves.
NB: Many other cool stuff might also happen, which will take me too long to relate in this post! If you are interested, refer to a good commentary on the good old Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Willis).
Slowing down now
Our body and our breath, compared to substances or other external remedies, are directly accessible and powerful tools for us to teach our system how to slow down. I recorded this 15-min long meditation, which hopefully can give you a little taste of that. Feel free to explore other meditations on my meditation page.
As an extra opportunity to slow down and bring this energy into a new fall and winter season, Pernille and I are offering a weekend retreat in September in a beautiful place 1h15min from Copenhagen. In addition to yoga, breath, and meditation, we will use poetry (reading and writing) to recharge and nourish ourselves at a deeper, heart and soul level. Everyone is welcome, whether you like writing or not. Spots are limited to 12-14 max. Read more about Yoga, Wellness and Poetry – A retreat (Sept 2nd– 4th).
Alignment is about feeling healthy and vibrant in our bodies, yet ultimately it also is about aligning with a greater force. If you are passionate about sharing the practice of “slowing down” and awakening through body, mind, and breath, maybe you’ll be interested in the Teachers’ Immersion I am offering with Yoga Flat this fall. Two weekends to dive into Alignment and Body Awareness for yourself and for your students or clients. This module or immersion is targeted at already trained yoga teachers, but everyone eager to deepen their alignment studies or working in another movement-related art is welcome too. You can read more and sign up on The Yoga Flat Event webpage.
Otherwise, the weekly schedule continues with few changes in the summer holiday time (check directly with your favorite studio for updates). In week 29 (July 18 to 24), you will find me teaching each morning a dynamic drop-in class at the lovely retreat center Fyrregården on Odsherred, near Copenhagen. You can just show up for a class and stay for brunch afterwards or come and stay at the venue for one or more nights. The garden is wonderful, the beach just a stroll away, and the outdoor hot tub pretty delicious… Just an idea! Check more on Fyrregården Facebook page.
I look forward to spending time with you very soon. Take good care, be well, enjoy spring and what this inspiring season brings you.
Much warmth and love,