Indy Holisitic Hub
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What a Sabbatical from Yoga Taught Me

During one particular winter, I felt guided to bow out of my longtime yoga practice which had been my anchor. I let my body tell me what it needed. Here’s what I learned, and how it enriched my practice when I returned.

I often tell people that I don’t know who I would be without yoga. I’ve studied yoga since the early 1990s, except for a few years when my health was too poor to sustain a practice. When I attend regular classes, I feel stronger in body and more peaceful in mind. I consider my yoga practice to be my anchor—keeping me grounded, flexible, and mindful in the midst of a chaotic world.

So it was a surprise when a few years ago, I tuned into guidance that told me yoga was no longer for me, at least for a while. For one entire winter, my mat stayed rolled up in a corner. I stayed home on Thursday nights while my yoga buddies gathered at the studio I loved. I didn’t know why, but it seemed that yoga was not what my body wanted.


© Piotr Sikora | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Throughout those cold days, I still moved my body, but I began to move in freeform ways that didn’t correspond to any particular discipline. I lay on the floor and squirmed my spine against the carpet. I danced in slow motion, without music to guide me. I sat on a cushion and allowed my head to loll and my shoulders to shake as they wanted to.

It was tremendously freeing.

Here’s what I learned from my winter yoga sabbatical:

  • How to go deeper into my body and allow movement to emerge organically. I moved the way my body wanted to, without trying to conform to external prompting. This taught me to honor my body’s wisdom in the way my yoga teachers had always tried to instill. How many times had they said “Listen to your body”? Did I really know what it meant? Not fully, not until that winter.

  • How to check in throughout my day and week instead of accumulating tension to “fix later in yoga class.” My pattern had been to largely ignore my body until it landed in class. Now, I found that I was quicker to shake off a too-long desk session, or breathe into tight places. I tuned in more often and took care of my body in a new way. This showed me that I had been offloading care of my physical self to my yoga teacher. No more! I took responsibility for the daily small practices that returned me to my center, instead of assuming that everything would get recalibrated in class.

  • How to create space in my body energetically. I studied energy work and began practicing on myself and a few loved ones. I discovered that tight hips could be adjusted with the lightest of touches, in a way that mirrored the sensation of a Triangle or Warrior 2 posture. Deep breaths arose spontaneously from big releases and emotional clearings. I felt a lightness and ease that reminded me of the last five minutes of a yoga class, flat out in Corpse pose. This taught me the incredible interplay between our physical cells and our energetic selves. I realized that by bringing energetic awareness into movement, I contacted a deeper place of healing.

When I eventually took my place among my yoga buddies in my weekly class again, all these learnings stayed with me and expanded my experience of yoga. I am so grateful that I listened to the guidance I needed that winter, and also grateful for the enrichment that followed.

About The Author:  Shawndra Miller, Spacious Light Intuitive Arts, is an energy worker and writer in Indianapolis. A certified ThetaHealer®, she offers one-on-one energy work, classes, and collaborative events that connect people to a wider sense of what's possible in their bodies, energies, lives, and the larger world. Tailoring sessions to each client, she blends energetic and emotional clearing methods that she mastered during a decade of recovery from fibromyalgia. She blogs weekly on community resilience and personal transformation at


by Indy Holistic Hub Posted Jun 13, 2017


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