A beautiful morning spent exploring stress, stressors and learning coping strategies to unwind. We gathered as strangers, family and new friends to better understand the complexities of stress, something we all deal with, but often times in the rapid pace of life, we don't decompress and truly relax after a stressful experience.
Perfect timing for me, I was introduced to the work of Dr. Stephen Porges and the Poly Vagal Theroy in 2020, just weeks before the initial lock down. The information resonated with me and I have been fascinated by the Vagus Nerve and the stress cycle, or as it is also known, the Poly Vagal Ladder, and yoga.
Today I introduced the Poly Vagal Theory to our group and explained many why and how we react to stressors and, most importantly, how to complete the stress cycle and how to build and maintain healthy vagal tone.
We used breath, movement and self-massage to take our autonomic nervous system from a parasympathetic state to a sympathetic and back again. Through out the day we moved effortlessly from one state to another, creating and practicing healthy vagal tone, something that the last few post-pandemic years, may not have been happening for many of us.
I also introduced Morning Pages, a stream of consciousness form of writing that helps us objectively examine daily life, dreams, worries and expectations. It is an active form of reflection and breaks the chain of recursive thinking. Reflection is objective, it brings to light those things that can hide in the shadows and cause recursive thinking and getting mentally stuck. Something magical happens when you put pen to paper and record your thoughts, honestly and objectively.
After a tea break, Alisa led us in a beautiful restorative yin yoga practice, designed to relax and rejuvenate. Yin yoga utilizes newly developed and traditional yoga poses that are held for longer periods of time, allowing muscles to relax and open and also encouraging tendons, joints and fascia to release. The effects and benefits of a yin practice last for 18 to 36 hours. The practice was followed by a deeply relaxing shavasana and guided yoga nidra meditation. The combination of yin, breath work, yoga nidra and the comfort of a safe space stimulates deep emotional responses and release.
Recipes for the hummus and soup are in the previous blog, posted last year after the retreat, along with a beautiful gluten free recipe for Moroccan Almond Cookies. This year I made my Specialty Elevated Rice Crispy Treats, the recipe is right here.
Browned Butter Chocolate Salted Rice Crispy Treats
1 cube butter
10 oz miniature marshmallows
8 cups rice crispy
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 - 1/2 tsp coarse salt
In a large heavy bottom pan, melt the butter on med to med low heat. Stay with the pot, stirring on occasion. The butter will begin to change color slowly, so watch it careful for a few minutes, when it begins to turn the color of peanut butter, add the marshmallows all at once and stir constantly to melt the marshmallows. You may need to adjust the heat to low and when most of the marshmallows are melted, take the pan off the stove and continue to stir. Add the rice crispies and stir to incorporate and cover all the crispies with melted marshmallows. Sprinkle in half of the salt and the chocolate chips. Stir just enough to mix it all together and then pour into a prepped 9x13 in pan. Press the mixture into place and sprinkle with the remaining salt. The addition of salt requires personal tasting, so depending on your tastes and the size of salt crystals, you will need to taste often and adjust.
Yogi, instructor, seeker