The Yoga of Listening, Retreats, and Letting Go of Anxiety

“Sometimes advanced yoga is doing Legs up the Wall pose when everyone else is doing arm balances.”

This was the sage advice given to me by one of my Anusara yoga instructors during a time where I felt like I was falling apart, but just kept pushing instead of allowing the process to unfold and then pass.

Yet once I’d been given permission, or more accurately, once I’d given myself permission to lay on my back and swing my legs up the wall while the rest of the class was playing on their hands, I realized that is where I needed to be.

And I begun to listen to myself. And the intensity passed, for I was no longer fighting it.

This is an example of something I think so many of us do. We keep pushing and forcing ourselves to do more, not rest – to try to keep up with the break-neck pace of ambition or need in life.

But it doesn’t work. It isn’t sustainable if it’s not sourced from the limitless energy that breathes us and dances in our blood; that energy that dances in everything that is.

When we push ourselves too hard and have unrealistic expectations, often it leads to anxiety, to living in a state of feeling like it’s all too much, or that we’re not good enough. And then all sorts of things can come from that, if left unchecked, including adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and all manner of stress related physical manifestations.

So what’s the out? How do you shift that feeling of “There is never enough time”?

Listen.

Pause and listen to yourself. To nature. To your own truth and wisdom.

For that you must tune in to the Now. For this, as I keep reminding myself, is where the magic happens.

Meditative practices and yoga are important to maintain this practice of listening. A link, if you will, that keeps us consciously plugged in to the energy that is always there.

But sometimes, to really recover, or to switch gears entirely if you’re having a hard time and feel like you’re stuck on a track of stress and worry, it’s helpful and immensely healing to go on retreat.

Create Your Own Yoga Retreat

This can be as simple as an outing in nature; a hike, a day by the lake, a weekend camping… Or as luxurious as going to a retreat center or flying to an exotic location.

For the past week, I’ve done something in between. And, wow, has it been just what I needed!

My partner and I packed all our camping gear, our brand new hand crank blender for green smoothies, a cooler full of fruits, veggies and leafy greens, some hearty soups and sprouted bread… and some other things….

And with all we needed to sustain ourselves, nourish and enjoy, we made our way to beautiful hot springs in pristine mountains.

We had planned to do a hot spring tour, and go to several places, but that just seemed like far too much work. So, once we realized how perfect our location was, we just stayed put.

And, I must say, floating weightless in warm mineral water is incredibly healing.

As is spending so much time breathing fresh air.

But I think, for me anyway, the highlight of this particular retreat was my solo hike up to a secluded mountain lake. I was the only one there, and quite likely the only human to have visited it in days or even weeks.

It was 10k round trip, and I probably made it up in an hour and a half, and down in maybe 30 or 40 minutes – I ran, gliding along with the spirit of the mountain in full speed focus – moving meditation. Exhillerating!

It gave me time to simply listen. To myself, to the forest, to the story the tracks in the trail told.

And to the raven that sang to me as it flew over me and glided above the lake set high in the mountain.

I even saw an otter! It made very cute noises at me, and I got the message. “Play!” says
the sprit of the otter. Play and enjoy. That is what you are here to do.

Equally as healing as the hike was a cleansing, highly refreshing dip in the lake, and later, the river. Nothing like cold, clean water to make you feel alive!

And changed.

For these experiences do change us. They help us shift back to ourselves, yet we are ever coming closer, ever co-creating who we are in the truest sense.

So, if you feel stuck, or contracted, or fearful, or stressed out, do yourself and everyone around you a favor:

Pause, in whatever way you need. And listen.

  • Do you have ideas for a self made retreat? Please leave a comment below and share!
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3 thoughts on “The Yoga of Listening, Retreats, and Letting Go of Anxiety

  1. Hi katrina,

    What a beautiful picture of life

    Being still and listening

    Letting go of expectations

    Simply living in simplicity

    Enjoying the beautiful art of nature

    thanks,

    Sharleen

  2. Katrina,

    You are an inspiration to all of us in sharing your divine grace. Nothing is more beautiful than connecting with Gaia as nature is a backdrop for which God speaks through. So you sharing this with us makes me want to go pull out my mat and merge with the divine and the earth. Blessings to you 🙂

  3. Hi Katrina,

    What a wonderful reflection – a dose of delight indeed. We need to bear in mind what you write here, and to stop and to listen.

    And if we do, we might just hear an otter reminding us to live in, and to enjoy, the present. It is perhaps no accident that a synonym for “gift” is “present”!

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