I recently had an epiphany of sorts. For my 40th birthday, my mother gave me a gift card for a massage, and I realized something - I have been rushing too much even while doing my relaxation techniques. Apparently, one must pay real dollars to be put into a dark, quiet room, and asked to relax. Even a Yoga practitioner with 20 years of experience can forget what it is like to truly take the time.

My mother must have forgotten that I don't really like massage. I have many reasons that I've come up with over the years why I don't  like massage. The main one is that I have become too sensitive to other people's energy, to the point that I have stopped touching students in a group class. It goes both ways, and I am weary of being touched, especially by a body worker who, I always suspect, may not "clean" themselves properly energetically from one client to the next. The other is that to date I have not had a really great massage that made me want to repeat the experience. It was either too firm and left me sore for days, or, like this time, didn't really amount to a change in how I feel, other than a little bit more relaxed than usual.

Which brings me to my point. Lying there, in that dark room, on a heated blanket, with soft music playing, and trying not to worry about whether this massage is going to be great or not, I found myself relaxing even in spite of myself. The massage was supposed to be a hot stone massage, which I'd never had before, and to be honest, the girl that was doing it was not the best person for this type of massage. I have seen what it looks like on Youtube, and it was pleasant, but the massage therapist was much better trained in Swedish and Pressure Point. At some point the gave up on the stones and took her hands to the knots in my back, and she was very skilled at that.

Nonetheless, the weight and warmth of the stones felt very grounding and relaxing. The stones felt like they absorbed negative energy while releasing positive. Being a captive audience to the relaxation process, I began to appreciate just how long it takes to let go and truly surrender. I am not sure I was able to do it, partly because I felt too self-conscious in the presence of another person, too vulnerable lying there naked, but a thought matured in my mind during that time.

I need to take more time to relax. I realized that I rush even through my favorite relaxation techniques, like Miracle Balls. That it took longer than I expected, maybe because the levels of stress in my life were higher than usual at that time (I had a change in my routine and was commuting to a desk job an hour each way for a week). That it feels good to slow down, even if there is an initial resistance to it. And then I realized something else - the real reason why I don't like massage is because it puts me out of my comfort zone. And not just for the reasons already mentioned, but because I, like most people, find it hard to relax! Despite the Yoga, despite the relatively low stress levels in my life, I still find it hard to relax! And that is an uncomfortable truth.

So, back to the drawing board. Today my affirmation during my Yoga practice was: "I will take my time." And every time I felt like moving on from whatever I was doing, be it Apanasana, or a down dog, or a twist, or whatever, as soon as I felt an impulse to move on to the next thing, I would tell myself: "Take more time with what you are already doing." And it was one of the best Yoga practices I've had in a really long time.

Try it and you may, I say!


Anna M.