I just got back from an advanced teacher training in Hawaii led by my teacher and mentor, Katy Bowman. It was an amazing week in a beautiful place with some of my favorite, like minded people. Why did Katy pick Hawaii and this particular retreat center for our training? Well, besides the fact that Hawaii is awesome and a tropical jungle provides a lot of outdoor movement opportunities, I think part of the draw was this: no technology. The retreat center we went to had no cell service (for me anyway), no TV’s, no traffic, no loud music, no air conditioning, and no cloud of 3G internet. We had the opportunity to practice our own alignment and natural movement at a deeper level without the distractions that technology can bring.
Honestly, it wasn’t a zero technology week for me. There were a couple locations with spotty wifi, which I will admit, I used a couple times to message my husband. (Who I left in Tennessee, alone with our high maintenance dog, friendless, and up to his eye balls in Civil War research. He deserves a big THANK YOU for letting me go. Also, I should clarify that he isn’t friendless because he is a loser, but because we just moved to TN and haven’t made friends yet.) The lack of technology became very freeing. It was SO therapeutic to live a week without constantly checking my email, thinking about whose phone call I need to return, and reading the endless stream of Facebook posts. I became very aware of how much “noise” these cause once they were gone. If a week without your phone and computer sounds like hell, a technology free week is probably just what you need. Trust me, it’s worth it.
We started each morning with a silent class at 5:45am, before the sun came up. I didn’t realize before this experience how often I am distracted (during an exercise class) by others talking around me or by my own words. It was 1 hour 15 minutes every day with nothing requesting my attention other than what was happening in my body in that moment. There was no multitasking going on here. No stretching in front of the TV. No going for a walk while talking on the phone. I noticed things about my body that I hadn’t noticed before. I think this is one reason why people find yoga so relaxing. It’s a 1 hour break from the constant noise both outside your body and inside your head.
Whether it is technological “silence” or verbal silence, I can’t recommend it enough. Maybe you can’t get away for a week, but how about an afternoon? Or an hour? Even on a smaller scale, these things have huge benefits.
Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPod, and the cell phone. (Don’t turn it on silent because, if you’re like me, you’ll still be distracted when it vibrates and lights up.) Put the kids down for a nap. Put the dog outside. Lay or sit down on the floor, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then go through a few of your favorite stretches, trying to focus your mind on what is happening in your body. Notice where you feel tension and try to let it go. When you start thinking about the grocery list, or that irritating person at work, or that project you need to complete, bring your mind back to what is happening in your body. Do this for 10 -15 minutes (or longer!), and notice the effect it has on your mental and physical state.