By Amy Van EsDec 13, 2019
Photo: Courtesy of Istock
I had just sat down to remove my boots when an angelic woman in a white lycra two-piece appeared at my side, offering to shake out my umbrella. “Uh, sure?” I said, caught a little off guard. But honestly, that wasn’t the first thing to throw me off when I first walked into the unassuming entrance of the Toronto Yoga Mamas’s east end studio. I had been transported into an alternate world. A world where women didn’t worry about their inboxes piling up and enjoyed a shared library of books about chakras. These women had ascended to a level of relaxation I’d never seen before— they were bend-over-in-white-pants levels of chill.
My experience with wellness in the eighteen months since I’d had my second baby was limited to doing YouTube yoga on my crumb-littered living room floor or sinking into a hot bath while my nine-year-old sat on the edge and recollected her day in painstaking detail. So I’m not sure what I was expecting as I hung my leather jacket in the tidy row of Canadian Goose parkas, but this wasn’t it. Then I was ushered to the front desk where a woman expectantly gestured for me to hand over my phone. Excuse me?
It’s worth noting that to do what I’m about to tell you, you’ll need to want that same chill, sure, but you’ll also need decent cash flow. While my service was complimentary, the average Canadian woman would have to work 3.5 hours to make enough money to take this nap. And to be frank, I can think of a lot of other small pleasures I could have used even one of these dollars for: a toy from a gumball machine, laundry dry cycle, an off-season mango, 1/4 of a latte, or four shiny quarters. But, if I had to rank one minute of complete silence somewhere in that mix, it would undoubtedly float to the top.
The woman, who I learned was the owner of the studio, showed me to my quarters. After pointing out all the ways I could relax (aromatherapy, ocean sounds, heated blankets, fur rugs, guided meditation, squishy pillows) she closed the door and I was immediately met with an internal crisis. I had no idea how to relax. After circling the room like a dog trying to find a place to rest, I plopped down onto the edge of the bed. Equal parts needing this to end and wanting it to last forever.
I spotted a gigantic, fluffy robe hanging on the back of the door. I didn’t know if it was just decorative—there were also fifteen battery-operated candles so it was hard to trust my instincts—but I stripped down and put it on anyway, coming up with a few excuses in case she came back and caught me in it.
I crawled under the covers and pulled the blanket up to my chin. If I was going to be there for an hour, I might as well give this a real go and focus on myself. As I laid there, I remembered an article I’d read the day before titled, “What was your original dream?” Between you and me, mine never included having children or a doting partner, but as luck would have it, I now have both. I thought back and saw my grown self through the hopeful eyes of teenager me, travelling the world with nothing but love in my heart and a collection of colourful scarves. But try as I might, that didn’t feel like me anymore.
Instead, I saw someone who was exhausted, frazzled, and who has had a lot more peas spit at them than planned. I know four different ways to braid hair, but I can’t name one Senator. I move from task to task while my toddler pulls at my pant leg and my partner asks me where his “really, really warm” socks went. Sometimes my day slips by without me even acknowledging myself.
But I’m also softer, more compassionate, and have direction. My daughters have given me the gift of accountability. I need to show up for them—and I do. I need to show them how a confident woman moves through the world—and I think I do that, too. And just as I was giving myself a mental pat on the back, my brain screeched to a halt. Am I showing them how a woman takes care of herself? Tears suddenly began to cloud my vision, so I closed my eyes and tried to rest.
An hour must have passed because a gentle tug on my heel brought the room back into focus. My host stood at the foot of the bed carrying a cup of tea. “Take your time as you prepare to make your way back into the world,” she said in a barely-there whisper.
I glided out of the room feeling a little bit closer to Gwyneth Paltrow. For the first time maybe ever, I began to think about self-care without dripping sarcasm. Maybe a manicure would be nice. Maybe I could make time in my week to practise yoga in a public class (in black pants, to start). Maybe there’s a way to do both—to get shit done but still prioritize my own well-being. And I maintained that poise down the hallway and into the lobby, where I promptly tripped on the rug and spilled herbal tea down my favourite sweater.
The owner caught up with me to help me put my jacket back on and asked how my nap was. I had planned to slip out unnoticed and email her later to find out where she got the robe, but now she stood there, smiling ardently at me. I’m not proud of this next bit, but my first instinct was to lie. I slathered a huge grin on my face, crossed my arms over the tea stains, and told her it was absolutely lovely to take time for myself. “What inspired you to come up with this delightful idea?” I asked her between skimming my missed emails, my phone and thumb together again.
I glanced up just as she released her perfectly toned shoulders and looked me square in the face. “For real?” she said—tired eyes to tired eyes—“I just... had to get out of the house.”
Toronto Yoga Mamas is offering free Dream Sessions for the month of December. Head to their website if you live in Toronto to get your nap on!