What’s that you might ask? The Ahhh feeling is the feeling you get after a few days of total rest and relaxation. This is when your nervous system switches properly from fight or flight, to the relaxation response.
I was recently assisting another teacher on a yoga retreat and the ahhh feeling kicked in on about the third day. Three days of sunshine, gorgeous, healthy vegetarian meals each day, 7am meditation and practising noble silence upon waking until the end of meditation – noble silence means a commitment to not talking and being mindful.
Three days of yoga practise, no washing up, no urgent tasks to complete, no routine running from here to there and three days of being in contact with like-minded people, interested in their personal growth, the evolution of human consciousness, caring for the planet and all its creatures, (I’ve never seen so many funny looking insects admired and treated with such care and respect) and who gave genuine support and encouragement to all of the people around them.
After the ahhh feeling kicked in, it was all simple.
Physiologically my body started sending healing hormones like oxytocin (the bonding hormone that makes us feel loved) coursing through my veins. Out of habit, I kept looking out for signs and symptoms of my energy levels dropping due to health issues I’ve had over the last few years, but they just weren’t there.
Awareness, the key to yoga practise and spiritual development, became heightened. I noticed my ego letting go, where in the first few days it fought for recognition and attention. Thinking quietened and the messages from my heart got louder.
Someone gave me a great book to flick through which changed my life in a moment. It helped me to recognise the truth of who I am, so I could stop beating myself up about who I am not. I shed a few tears of relief and happiness at that point.
My meditations became more powerful, when I closed my eyes, strange images appeared in front of my closed eyes and morphed from one to the next like a slide show. Realisations were two a penny. The space to just be created in my external world was reflected within me, so that I had the space to hear my truth and make important decisions.
Once I returned home it was even easier to see the effects. Bouncing out of bed early in the morning, sticking to healthy habits… I’ve not touched sugar yet and I’ve watched TV once, favouring getting on my mat. I know what I need to do to move forward in my life and so far, I’m still loving myself and honouring my needs.
It’s amazing what a one week yoga retreat can do for you….
By Rachael Wharton Yoga teacher in Surrey