COMPLETELY CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE
Often Yoga workshops, retreats, and intensives are marketed as a way to deepen your practice, and bless you with some yogic ideal that you couldn’t reach without that event. I’m well aware of this marketing tactic, but I want to share with you some authentic experiences that I’ve had while on retreats with some teachers that I deeply admire and respect.
Hopefully, you’ll feel more enthused about taking a step to commit more time and energy into your Yoga practice, so that you can experience all the benefits that a regular practice can bring.
The first Yoga retreat I went on was with Tim Miller, an Ashtanga Yoga teacher in Encinitas. It was a combination Yoga Teacher Training/retreat in Tulum. It was my first opportunity to remove myself from my normal routine to solely practice and study yoga for a week. What I found was how much more I was able to absorb and focus my energy on soaking up as much as I could of what was going down. I remember waking up in the morning thinking, my perspective had shifted so much as a result of what was being taught and how I was learning to move my body, that I felt like a completely different person.
Yogic texts describe extended time in the presence of a teacher who truly embodies the path, as having the ability help to transmit energy or shakti which is a catalyst in our waking up process. Tim Miller is one of these types of teachers.
The next retreat I went on was in Nicaragua with Paul Cabanis. Paul Studied Iyengar Yoga, and was fortunate to visit India and spend time directly with BKS Iyengar soaking up as much as he could. Similar to my experience in Tulum, I was able to immerse myself and be as present as I could be to deepen my practice. Paul is such an amazing teacher. His understanding of philosophy, subtle body, yoga anatomy, and the subtlety of posture are the most in depth out of any teacher I’ve ever studied with. Paul has the ability to pull from the wealth of information that he’s studied, synthesize and translate to the layman, all with a sense of humor and profound ability to blend the esoteric with hilarious pop culture references. It’s really quite poetic. Similar to Tim Miller, he’s able to transmit something beyond words.
It was after this retreat that I became inspired to start leading retreats.
I reasoned, that if I had such profound experiences taking classes for a week on retreat, that I could help to give people similar experiences. I don’t kid myself, I have nowhere near the ability of Paul to teach Yoga. If you could take a retreat with Paul I would say that hands down this is the man you would want to spend a week with. Unfortunately that was his last retreat, so you’ll just have to settle for the Fiji retreat with me in March, until he can be convinced otherwise ; )
So I recently hosted a retreat in Ojai, California.
I chose Ojai because it is said to be an energy vortex. Krishnamacharya called it the most beautiful place on earth, and set up his center for spiritual studies there, where the beatles came to visit and study with him.
It’s also super close to Rincon, so I was pretty stoked at the possibility of getting a a wave or two after the last day.
I had a group of students that were a real treat to get to spend time with and teach. People come on retreats for all different reasons. Some to deepen practice, some to let off steam, some to take time away from work, some just use it as their vacation. The level of devotion to practice always varies and I honor that. I think of it as a time so that the student can return to their normal day to day, recharged and enthused. Some don’t need as much time practicing as others for that recharging to take place.
This particular group had several students that were focused on enhancing and deepening their practice, which is such a cliche I realize, but for lack of a better term I’m continuing to use it in this post.
I picked up on this vibe, in the first class and I took them into some postures I wouldn’t normally teach. I also shared some of the variations of Pranayama and Chanting that I reserve for self practice and private instruction.
People we’re stoked.
I saw people trying things in class that I could tell they weren’t sure if there body could do, but because they were more open and present than usual their body was able to open in ways they couldn’t imagine.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, or feel like I’m trying to push workshops, intensives, or retreats as the only way to deepen your practice. I’ve had experience in my regular weekly class with my local teacher Megan Bello, where just by the way she said something about a pose it completely shifted my understanding and opened up a new connection in my mind or feeling of freedom that wasn’t there before.
So i’m not saying this is the only way.
What i’m saying is that we tend to be less open when yoga class is on a checklist of things to do as we rush through the day. When I get time to slow down and connect, I’m just more sensitive and open to what is happening. My ability to observe and feel is significantly enhanced.
The most powerful part of these retreats was that they inspired me to practice daily. I wanted to keep the vibe going when I got home. So I would journal about what I experienced and go back through the journals as I practiced to see if I could understand better what was being taught on these trips.
My goal with everything I put out is to help inspire people to practice. By reading about peoples experience with yoga, or seeing pictures of Iyengar practice yoga, I would get so stoked to practice Yoga. So I hope I’m able to spread the stoke.
Now go practice! 🙂