I was both excited and apprehensive to be leading my first yoga detox program. Initially I had thought that I really needed a two week clean out myself, then realised how helpful it could be to some of the women attending my yoga classes but that it was probably not something they would attempt by themselves. I thought it would be of interest to people but when it booked out within three days of deciding to go ahead I was a little overwhelmed. How much support would these people need through this process? Could I give them all of the support they needed and at the same time get myself through the two weeks?
I very much looked forward to two solid weeks of early morning classes, it was something I’d wanted to do for a while, have people come consistently, everyday for a block of time. My husband had been telling me about a martial arts teacher who did a similar thing each year with his most promising students (he didn’t tell me till after the two weeks that the martial arts teacher only did it for 5 days!).
I spent a great deal of time and energy putting the program together, though it was a relatively simple program, I wanted to make sure the information I provided was accurate and the practice we did each morning was effective but also appropriate for the people I would be working with. With reference to a number of great teachers, their books, articles and websites, I designed an asana sequence that we could follow every morning but could also easily be modified to be more or less intense. I also wrote guidelines for conduct during the classes, sourced a reliable information booklet regarding detox diets and nutrition and set about creating an environment (physical and energetic) that would be conducive to cleaning out and purifying both body and mind.
It was interesting to watch the women in their preparations for the detox, gathering information, products that would support them in cleaning their bodies and keeping up their nutritional requirements and the little ‘buzz’ that began to arise around me. There was excitement and apprehension from the group as well as from me. Nevertheless, I asked that people refrain from chatter and negative self-talk during the asana practice and established a space of metta for them to explore, draw from and take refuge in.
What happened next was nothing short of amazing to me – every day for those two weeks (other than our rest day on the middle Sunday) every single one of those 8 women (including me) turned up at 6am for their asana practice. Every one of them put everything they had into being present, physically and mentally and every one of us took a journey that included pain and suffering, success and joy, We all felt the withdrawal symptoms as our bodies adjusted to the elimination of caffeine, sugar, gluten, and alcohol. We experienced the adjustments of tummies not used to so much nutrient rich, organic and whole food, the emotional roller coaster as our muscles released toxins and became more open and moved more freely and the growing exhilaration as we all turned up every morning not only for ourselves but for each other.
Despite very little chatter and conversation it became clear well before the end of the first week, that the group were bonding in a very deep way. We were empowered by the fact that each of us kept turing up even though we had bad days, awful days, some came with very little sleep, managing sick children, having to face work with no coffee, no cake, nowhere to hide emotionally. We started to see our addictive patterns, the toxic substances that we use to avoid underlying pain and suffering and negative thought patterns that arise as a result. With nowhere to hide, we sought refuge in each other and in the practice and the effect of that was more powerful than I had ever expected or even considered possible in such a short period of time, under my novice guidance.
On the last Saturday of the program we had a 2 hour session which began with a some discussion, congratulations and a breathing meditation and then moved into a fast-paced, high-intensity asana practice. For many of the women in the group this was their first experience of this type of practice, something that they most likely would not have thought possible for them and something they certainly would not have been keen to try off-the-cuff. But as much to my surprise as to their own, everyone one of those women worked their way through not only a tough warrior sequence, side-arm balancing and crow, but went on to do headstand (I can hear one woman protesting that she didn’t get up, but she gave it a shot and got one foot off the ground which was more than I expected from most of the women in the room) – in the middle of the room, no walls! I am getting shivers down my spine as I write this, remembering the level of energy and newfound self-confidence in the room! What an absolutely amazing group of women!
We went out for dinner together that night to celebrate. The energy at the table was wonderfully light and bubbly. We laughed and were silly and connected and then laughed some more, and it’s possible that what we were saying wasn’t even really that funny (although I think a few of us would have paid good money to listen to one woman’s stand up routine!), but because we felt so good from the detox and even better from the boost in self-confidence and self-esteem, it really didn’t matter whether we were funny or not, the food was great, the company was even better, but best of all was how we all felt about ourselves and the fact that we all had the same feeling and were aware of that shared experience.
I learned so much from this experience, I found out how hard it was toR look after myself at the same time as fully support 7 other women as we all went thorough a relatively difficult journey. I felt responsible for their wellbeing, but also learned that, given the right circumstances, people are very well equipped to care for themselves. I learned that if I just set the ball rolling in the right direction I don’t have to keeping pushing it, momentum gathers and people quickly take up the challenge of growing and developing. I learned that being openly spiritual as a yoga teacher is inspiring to others when offered in the right way and that people are ready to accept that spirituality goes hand in hand with physical and mental/emotional wellbeing. I learned that through my yoga practice I have developed a strong container for my own suffering and a beautiful community of students around me who have found refuge in both my teaching and in each other.
With a deep bow of respect to the seven beautiful and amazing women who took this journey with me,
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Bodhi Tree Yoga