The Magic in Learning to Slow Down & Stop Forcing - Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy
The Magic in Learning to Slow Down & Stop Forcing
yoga nidra

The Magic in Learning to Slow Down & Stop Forcing

          As I was crawling across the floor, I wished for the moment to be over and for all of these eyes to be looking anywhere else but at me. I felt restricted. My chest felt tight. I started to breathe faster and more shallow. Anxiety was creeping in but I had no way out.

          Last October, I decided to go on to a weekend-long transformational retreat with three months of transformational coaching support thereafter. It was the scariest moment of my life as I handed over my credit card information–the biggest investment I’ve ever made to date, aside from buying my car and getting student loans for college (although that didn’t really feel real money then).

Identifying the Fraud in Me

          Even though all of the fear, doubts, and worry flooded through my brain–I knew I had to do this. I spent the previous 6 months feeling like a complete fraud–in my life and my business. 

  • I created daily routines, downloaded all the podcasts, and tried to implement all of the strategies for getting through these personal blocks, but I couldn’t find my way out.
  • I tried to get more clients but I ended up showing up frustrated, disconnected and looking desperate.
  • I felt like I’d put so much effort into my business and had no results to show for it.

          I knew I was ready to do more, be something more, and ultimately to…. FEEL more me. 

          I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I had the nudge inside and I chose to listen to it. 

          Have you ever been there? Wanting to send the message, book the trip, and feeling a little nudge, but an even bigger overarching fear that ultimately wins.

          That fear ends up crippling us, not only emotionally, but physically, we don’t know how to move forward… we freeze… and we stay the same.

          So often we think that everything is supposed to be easy; we think that if we feel worries, doubt or fear, that we shouldn’t bother doing the thing. We start to shy away from anything that feels uncomfortable–and so we stay the same. 

          The truth is, even though the thought of this financial and energetic investment made me want to run away and vomit in the corner by myself (lol), there was something inside of me that knew I had to go. I realized that what I had been doing for so long wasn’t working. I realized that in order to create the change that I so desired, I had to put on my big girl pants and step up.

          I knew the answer to my current pain was on the other side of deep discomfort and destruction. Sometimes getting to the other side means we have to walk a line of fire. Sometimes we just have to show up, do the work and stop trying to find the stable, comfortable bridge to bring us there.

Taking Inspired Action

          This is one of the most important practices I teach my clients–taking action regardless of fear and taking action based on what’s showing up in your intuition… because if we always listened to fear, we wouldn’t do anything out of our comfort zone, and we, therefore, wouldn’t change or evolve into even more epic humans. Connecting to your intuition takes time and practice, but it’s listening to that small, quiet and simple voice inside that nudges you towards your dreams and out of your comfort zone–it’s not the one that tells you do be less, dreamless or do less.

          One of the key practice I’ve learned to do when my doubting ego shows up to encourage me to play small starts with stopping everything that I’m doing at that moment. Standing or sitting, I pause and close my eyes. I feel my sit bones or my feet against the earth. I feel grounded and rooted at this moment. I explore and deepen my breath until I feel more relaxed. I take mental note of how I”m feeling in this moment. At that moment – it was scared and nervous; I was nervous that the investment wouldn’t be worth it but more than that, I was nervous that I wouldn’t show up the way I wanted to and therefore I wouldn’t get the results. I let that story play through once and sometimes twice until I decide that’s not my story. I take a moment to visualize what I want to feel, what I want to be doing, and where I want to be. I breathe that in for several breaths until I know that as truth in my body; I breathe it in until I embody this knowing and possibility inside of me. 

          This simple embodiment practice teaches us to be, to breathe, to dream and to trust–the ingredients needed to move through discomfort into greater freedom and intuition.

The ant inside my head (Automatic Negative Thoughts)

          I spent the last six months riddled with anxiety–feeling the person I had been up until this point and the person I wanted to be and knew I was inside. The gap between the two was what filled me with anxiety and fear–the gap felt like a deep, dark pit into the abyss. The gap was filled with words like, “Is this even possible?” and “Maybe you shouldn’t do it, it might not be worth it.”

          When I first read the information about the retreat on Instagram from a coach I’d been following and resonating with for a long time, I felt something happen inside of me, but I ignored it. But when I saw it again, I felt something inside that I couldn’t ignore. This time I listened to the pit happening inside my stomach. I was being called forward–ready or not. When I reached out to connect about the retreat, all signs (except my inner fear gremlins) pointed towards HECK YES, so I got on the call and signed up for the program.

          Luckily I put down a financial deposit on the call because almost immediately after, I wanted to hide, curl in a ball, run away, take it back and stay in my small bubble. What did I do? Was this the biggest mistake I’ve ever made? I almost didn’t want to tell my partner about it but something inside of me knew it was right. 

          I had nothing else to do but trust, so I tried–over and over again. 

          I started to get nervous before the retreat. I was excited too but mostly nervous; I was nervous about what we’d do there, who exactly will be there, how it will turn out… and even more so, I knew I was about to get stretched more than I ever have.

          Just a few hours before I arrived at the house, we all got an email asking us to stretch even *further* outside of our comfort zone than I imagined–before our arrival.

          My mind started racing.

          When I walked into the house, I saw. I met the three ladies in the retreat with me, which made me even more nervous. One was a beautiful embodied blonde babe with a huge welcoming smile. The other was a gorgeous, small and powerful being with a gentle smile.  “Who was I to be here? ” The home was even more beautiful and bougie house than I imagined–my child-self got giddy as I peered into the backyard with an ocean-view, jacuzzi, and epic pool and a vista of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego coastline. The girls I met were amazing, but it was clear we were all unsure of what was about to go down…

Staying In The Body

          Over and over, I shifted my awareness back into my body, back into my breath. I start by taking deep breaths that start to fill my lungs and I feel the expansion meet the resistance and tension in my chest. I breathe until I am reminded again that I am human and that it will be okay–it always will. I breathe until I surrender into trust again.

          Since I knew the next day would be tough and our retreat leaders would arrive ready to dive in, I set my alarm early that morning and went on a run with one of the ladies, and now a dear friend of mine. After the run, I jumped and chilled in the jacuzzi, showered, meditated, and got grounded. I knew I had to stick with all of the practices that connect me even if none of them felt fluid–even if fear kept flooding in.

Here’s how you can stay in your body

          One of the most powerful ways that we can start to break down our walls of limitation, doubt, fear, and control, lies within our own body, in our breath. A simple practice to release a pattern, story or thought and to allow space for something new, is a three-part breath. This breathing practice allows us to become aware of the breath which brings our awareness away from our head. 

          To try this practice, take a big breath in and a big breath out. On your next inhale, fill the stomach with ⅓ of your breath and pause. Take in another ⅓ of breath into the ribs and pause. Take your last ⅓ of breath into your chest and pause. Long, slow exhale out the mouth. Try this 5 more times and start to feel your worries, doubts, and limiting stories release. Keep going until you feel them fade away.

The Lion Day

          The next morning our retreat leaders showed up. It was an intense morning of different practices to get us out of our head and explore what was hiding beneath the layers who we say we are. I was loving all the games, until this next one.

          Since there were three of us in the retreat, we took turns on who went first for each game we played. The next game was my turn to go first, so I got excited and stood up right away. I had no idea how much this would shake me…

          Essentially the name of the game was to act like a lion. Sure, sounds easy, I know. Except, you had to act like a lion so much that everyone in the room had to believe you were a lion and raise their hands when they felt convinced… “Sure, do-able,” I thought.

          Until I got onto the floor. I instantly felt… all over my body. I started crawling around on all fours and roaring like I’ve seen lion’s do on documentaries and shows. I’m sure only 60 seconds of time passed as I moved back and forth along the hardwood flooring in the upstairs room, but it felt like a lifetime.

          No one raised their hands, so I kept going. I felt myself going back into my head, so annoyed that no one would raise their hands. “I was acting like a lion. WTF more did they want?”

          I kept going, adding more pieces as they came to me.

Still nothing, silence. No one raised their hand or told me to stop.

          I felt my inner critic turn up until it was all I heard. High blast. Over and over like a broken record.

Dealing With The Inner Critic

          “Can I just be done with this?” “I’m not good at stuff like this, I just don’t want to do it anymore.” “I’m so annoyed.” Yadda yadda yadda.

          I kept going but this next round with more frustration, and an even worse lion impression.

          Fear and rage boiled through my blood but I didn’t let myself fully feel it. I wanted to be seen, but not fully. As I continued to move, I became aware. This was a common pattern in my life: I want to be seen, but not fully. Why? Where else has this been showing up in my life? 

          Work. Relationships. Social Media. Everywhere…

          Old stories, moments and memories started to fill my vision on fast forward. I started to see all of the ways I played small in fear of not being enough. They flew through my mind like a videotape. One after the other. Playing small. Not showing up. Being scared.

          I got so frustrated that I sat back on my heels and put my hands over my face.

          I was trying, forcing and controlling so much, why wasn’t I successful?

          It felt like every fear, worry and doubt that I’ve ever had started to appear and surface now. The tension and restriction in my chest started to build. I wanted to throw up. I felt a pit deep in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away and hide. This was not fun.

          The only thing I could do were the first two–so I screamed. And screamed again–this time louder. Once I had nothing left to scream, tears streamed down my face.

Slaying Your Own Inner Critic

          Ever feel like you can’t turn down the noise of your own inner critic? The loud ego inside that wants the attention, and wants to put you down? I do, too. Here’s what helped me learn to turn them down and turn up the sound of my internal guide.

          Learning to listen for your inner critic comes first; this happens by bringing awareness your awareness to your thoughts. So the next time you start to feel overwhelmed by the noise inside your head, bring your awareness to what the voice is saying. When you hear the song on repeat, slow it down.

          When you slow things down and become aware of your thoughts as they flow through, you can start to become curious on where they’re coming from. When you hear his voice, pause, bring a hand to your heart and ask yourself: where is this coming from? If it’s coming from your head, it’s your ego. If it’s coming from your heart, it’s not your ego. 

          Start to be more curious then start to shift the thought patterns. Repeat things like, “I am strong and capable of doing whatever I want.” Say it, write it, think it until it feels true.

Embodying The Strength

          It was clear that I had two options at that moment: to keep playing small or to fucking show up and be the powerful woman that I am. To show up at this moment as a lion was only a small piece to a bigger puzzle: it’s time to show up fully.

          “Stop forcing.” A quiet voice whispered in my head.


          “Be a lion.”

          I took a deep breath. Something clicked.

          Reluctantly, I got back onto all fours and started moving like my version of a lion would move. I envisioned a bad-ass, sassy lion moving around in the wild and started to embody that – I kept that as my vision and begin moving. I started to embody the fierceness of a lion. The strength and power of a lion. The essence of a lion. 

          I finally got it and I knew it. I wasn’t forcing anything, I was just being. I felt amazing. I looked up at the ladies to see if their hands were raised although I already knew they were. 

          Waves of relief, gratitude, and joy took over my body. I wanted to cry again–this time in the best way.  Have I been forcing everything my entire life?

          I was so grateful it was over as I excitedly got back onto the couch. I stayed present as the other girls did their version of a lion, but after that, we had a break. 

Surrender + Write it Out

          I slid away from the group and went into my room. I parked my ass on the fluffy, white queen-sized bed. Tears streamed down my face and I felt my hands naturally gravitate to my heart. I let myself cry and felt the emotions come up. I stayed present as they all came and went and until finally, there were no more tears left.

          I sat with my hands on my heart until the weight lifted from my body. 

          I stretched and moved my body in all different ways. I started to move more freely. I began to stand and felt stronger in my body. I moved until I felt more integrated, more connected.

What To Do After Big Expansive Moments That Makes All The Difference

          After connecting to the body, explore journaling. After moments like these, I like to recap what I’ve been worried about or focusing on. I sit with them and try to explore whether or not there are any belief systems that need to be shifted, and if not, I explore what it would feel like to experience a new story, a truth. I write my new truth down and breathe it in until I own it. In this case, I write, “I no longer force; I release the need to control and allow things to happen.”

The Gift Of Trying Something New – Community

          I opened the door and reconnected with my new, close friend Lyndsey. We locked eyes, this time I was lighter, stronger and more me than before.

          I felt the breeze lightly move over my skin. The room now felt bigger and more expansive now. Even though I just did the most challenging thing of my life, I was filled with joy.

          I was reminded of how capable I am, how powerful I am. I was reminded that I can do anything I put my mind to–in my own, unique way. When we stop forcing things and starting being in our bodies, as we were designed, we feel amazing.

          These are just a few of the embodiment practices that have brought me away from living in my fears and doubts. These practices are simple yet they’ve helped me chase my dreams as opposed to playing small. 

          If you’re ready to step into a new vibration, if you’re tired of just going to classes or having a really transformative session with me and not experiencing something like that with anyone else, this retreat is for you…

          You will experience a lightness and release in stress from the moment you walk through the doors. You’ll learn different practices that will allow you to slow down, feel calmer and bring you back to yourself. This slowing down will allow you to access deeper healing. You’ll build community with amazing women in the group and experience a sense of connection and support on your journey.

          It will be transformative and extremely powerful; are you ready to listen to the call and join?

          Enjoy twice daily yoga therapy and meditation practices, sound healing and somatic experiences, circles for connection and shares, daily cooked healthy meals, and more. 

Retreat Details:

  • 2 days + 2 nights
  • stay + delicious, catered meals included
  • twice daily therapeutic yoga + meditation practices to slow down. reconnect, nourish and expand
  • individualized & focused support for alignment, posture, wellbeing + lifestyle 
  • a sweet gift to part with!

If you’re feeling the nudge and want to explore for yourself, click here to apply for the retreat. This isn’t an experience you’ll regret going, but it’s definitely one you’re regret NOT going to.

Big hug,


PS: If you’re feeling the pull but going back and forth, take a moment to pause and drop in. What’s your heart’s deepest desire in this moment? If it’s this, I encourage you to apply here. Let’s connect!

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