The planning skills from my interior design days paid off this past weekend as I lead my first yoga retreat in West Virginia for Dancing Mind Yoga. My menu was definately involved some preparation days in advance. I am thankful I had an amazing assistant, Ashley Hoover, to help me grill the food and assist the classes. The ladies enjoyed homemade meals such as fish tacos with mango salsa and guacamole, vegetarian and turkey chili, chicken and steak kabobs with orzo salad. I think it was a blend of a food and yoga retreat by the end of the weekend!!
The women on the retreat were incredible. They all pitched in during meal time and we had a blast in the evenings getting to know each other. I was so grateful for the laughter and joy that each person brought with them. I was able to teach from my heart and honed in on some elements of my teaching I had not been able to do in my classes.
Leading long meditation sessions was new to me. I was able to touch base with some women in the Teacher Training Program who gave me some insight on how I was able to pick up their thoughts and energy. It baffles my mind how trusting yourself and allowing YOGA to just DO YOU regardless if you are practicing yoga or teaching, that things will fall into place. We are all interconnected to one another therefore, when we speak freely, honestly and respectfully – the message will be clear and perhaps land on someone in a positive way. For me, meditation has always been a challenge because I just don’t find the time to do it. I have found guided meditation as great and powerful experiences for me especially when it is out with nature. During my first Bapiste yoga bootcamp in Hawaii, I was on a silent meditation walk and during the walk I was overwhelmed with sensations of gratitude, hope, resistance, sorrow and love. Tears streamed down my face as we got to the edge of the ocean. I had never felt this way before and for the entire week, during our meditation sessions – new sensations and emotions raised up in me. It was amazing and I was excited to be a guide for these women to experience something different in their own meditation.
On this retreat, I was able to shape the practices to what the general consensus of the group wanted. This is very different from how I normally teach. I don’t come into a class with an agenda so I was pretty nervous if I could deliver and meet the expectations of the participants. The first night, I was unable to sleep very well. I haven’t experienced this kind of anxiety in a long time. Some of the ladies had asked me to teach scorpion, which is an inversion pose that I am not able to get into. I normally do not teach what I do not have in my body. My studio owner had given me tools to teach complicated poses by asking an assistant or other students who can do that pose in their body so that the demonstration can be more effective. Again, I was thankful Ashley has a strong practice and I was able to ask her to help me during class. It felt good to be able to put into use all of the tools that my mentors and teachers have taught me when I am out of my comfort zone. I kept on repeating to myself, “This is not about your fears – it’s about what your students want to learn.” and that helped me come back to my body as I taught.
In the evenings, we had fun cooking, eating, drinking wine and enjoying each others’ company. I found myself sharing freely and without judgement about what these women will THINK OF ME. It was such a comfort to know that I can do this, have real connection without filters.
This retreat was such a powerful and uplifting experience for me. I was able to meet and strengthen the relationships I have with these women at the same time as building my skills as a yoga instructor. I am so blessed to have had this weekend. I was able to blend my passion of yoga with my passion of food. I was able to share this and I look forward to more retreats in the future!