By Tijana Tamburic
Like many women who run their own business, I have a busy schedule, my mind never shuts off and putting my phone away gives me anxiety. On any given day, I am always making decisions, taking action, brainstorming, and producing. Yet I need a break sometimes but I’ve discovered that unless it is scheduled and enforced, it won’t happen.
This is how I found myself flying to Puglia for a five-day yoga retreat unconventionally on my own. Passing kilometers of UNESCO-protected, millennia-old olive groves by moonlight I arrived at a magical seafront masseria, slept in utter rural silence, and awoke to the sound of singing birds and fresh coffee. I willed for a spell to turn my mind off.
On my first day, when I rolled my matt out, my mind was still racing. Even in Apulian paradise, I’m thinking about that meeting that went wrong, that brief I should develop, that conversation I don’t know how to have. This continued until a very specific moment, roughly fifteen minutes into class. In the setting of ancient olive trees, I am transported to a place where all that matters is my body’s position on the earth, my breathing, and rhythm. I’m pushing towards, and sometimes past, my edges; breathing through and into things. I’m focused on the instructor’s voice and what I’m about to do next – completely present. My mind is free. It’s a bit like lucid dreaming; if you think about the fact you’re in it, it immediately pulls you out and into reality.
That moment is then broken as I lay down for Shavasana – the moment you’re supposed to let go. The thoughts flow back in but the internal dialogue is calm and kinder. This is why I love yoga. Distancing myself from my ‘comfort’ zone, this majestic setting, and my ability to rest in observer mode all prevail. I am ready to tackle that problem from a very new angle, I’m receptive to light-bulb moments, and that conversation is going to be easy. I make a mental note to remember this practice when I get home.
“My lungs filled with fresh air and I surrendered to that state of lucid flow longer than usual.”
By day three, I was finally easing into the Apulian lifestyle experience, enjoying the Mediterranean diet at its best, lounging by an immense pool, and exploring existential topics with my fellow yogis. I hadn’t checked my phone and when I finally switched it on, there it was: a never-ending scroll of notifications reeling me back to reality including an important meeting request due to take place on the last day of the retreat. Anxiety kicked in as fast as the notifications and I turned to the Italian yoga instructor for support. “What does your body say?” she asked.
“Well, my body feels strong and able to take me anywhere I want to go, so it seems it’s happy either way.” “No”, she replied.
“That it’s healthy, it won’t get sick?” “No”, she smiled. “Umm… it says it feels fine to be on a flight so long as it’s not the middle seat?” I hesitated.
She shook her head. “That’s all my body says!” Calmly she replied, “No, it tells you so much more. Go to yoga and listen.”
That afternoon, my thoughts were racing: should I stay or go? As we flowed from one position to the next, I was weighing all the options and trying to predict how each decision could pan out. All the while, the sun was in a drama of its own, setting into spectacular shades of pink and orange over the ancient olive groves.
My lungs filled with fresh air and I surrendered to that state of lucid flow longer than usual. When my inner dialogue started to murmur again I was already in Shavasana. I had never silenced my mind this long before.
My body weighed down onto the floor like a magnet, my head light, and the soles of my feet humming as if they were ankle-deep in sand. I felt the cacophony of words arising slowing from my gut, into my stomach and up, but rather than the usual deluge of information, my body just said, “Stay.”
How To Still Practice Yoga During Lockdown:
Tijana Tamburic is a creative director, producer, and community builder but above all, she is a storyteller. She tells stories across different mediums and in innovative ways with the goal to help, inform, and create purposeful change.
Tijana is the co-founder of London-based creative agency Female Narratives, that connects brands with real women and real stories – amplifying female narratives with the greater purpose of balancing the overly masculine energy of the current culture with a feminine one, to the benefit of all.
She has given a TEDx talk, both been selected for and judged the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, and worked with some of the biggest brands to help tell their stories better.