I just returned from co-hosting my first yoga retreat at Prana del Mar outside of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The trip was booked in July of last year and it was a tremendous amount of work that spread over nine months. I'll be real with you and say that the build up to the retreat consisted of many days of questioning why I decided to take on such a huge endeavor. On countless occasions I got overwhelmed and cursed myself for thinking I was ready to facilitate such a big trip. Luckily I was able to pull myself out of my funk. I had to remember I was taking on this project for a reason. I'm passionate about yoga and dedicated to exposing the beautiful power of yoga to my students. A yoga retreat is the perfect opportunity to immerse oneself in the practice.
Although the planning and organizing felt like it had gone on forever, the trip suddenly crept up on me and it was time to fly to Mexico. With my moderate social anxiety I was instantly concerned about introducing all of my students to each other and creating space for everyone to socialize. My concerns were quickly eased because this group was special. Everyone instantly clicked. It was magical to get to know my students beyond what I get to experience while they're on their yoga mats. I was able to be myself and allowed my own personality to shine. Even though the yoga was the priority on this trip, I often forget how fulfilling it is to connect with others. Especially others who are willing to carve out one week for their yoga practice.
I knew Prana del Mar would be an outstanding location to host a yoga retreat, however, words cannot describe how incredibly perfect it was. Every tiny detail from the lack of mirrors in the common bathrooms to the beautifully manicured grounds to the staff who took care of our smallest needs. The yoga studios were perfect. The guest rooms were flawless. The food... oh the food! Although my intention with this trip was to let the yoga take center stage, it was impossible to upstage our home for the week.
I realized on this trip I struggle with relaxing. Sure I easily fall into a sluggish state when I put on the Netflix, but I rarely allow myself to unplug, unwind, and just relax. On the first couple of days I found myself mindlessly meandering from one chaise lounge to the next because I didn't know what to do in my downtime. Of course I was committed to my role as a teacher when I taught classes, but the resort created the perfect environment for my group and me to just let go for many hours. It was marvelous!
Although my intention for the retreat was for my students and me to immerse ourselves in the practice of yoga, I'm realizing so much more was gained from the experience. We were able to reset. Although the week had to come to an end, I realized I need to create more spaces in my everyday life to slow down. Staring at the Pacific Ocean from the roof of a beautiful resort in the middle of the desert quickly lulls you into a meditative state. That meditative state doesn't require a yoga retreat at a fancy resort, but hopefully such an experience reminds us that even when copious amounts of snow are falling from the sky (was that thunder I just heard?), or when our work and family life stresses us out we can still fall deeply into a mindful, meditative state of being.
To those of you who joined me on this trip, thank you. Thank you for trusting Dylan and me for one week of yoga in Mexico. Again, you were a special group and I'm grateful my first retreat was filled with your smiles and positive energy (and all of those laughing fits that led to tears!). To my trusty pal, Dylan, thank you for diving head first into this amazing trip with me. I've learned so much from you over the years and it was an honor to guide this group with you. And to those of you who weren't able to join us for this round, there's a chance it'll happen again...
Although the label of "yoga retreat" is common vernacular in the health and wellness communities, I would much rather consider this trip an experience. It was so much more than a week of practicing yoga. It was so much more than a week away from the day to day routine. It was truly an experience to connect with others and connect with oneself.