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10 Insights From the One Who Thought They’d Never Teach Yoga

I remember very vividly, standing on the beach with a couple of my girlfriends about to go surf. It was one of those complete cloud-free sunny mornings. Far off, the waves broke over the reef.

“It looks okay, but I’m so tired and sore,” one friend complained. “I still have noodle arms from surfing twice yesterday.”  Two-a-day sessions were the norm for these girls, and yesterday having been dragged around by their enthusiasm, I shrugged and half-agreed. My arms were pretty much toast too.

“We should probably stretch before we paddle out,” the other suggested. “Hey you do yoga, lets do that.” “Yeah, you teach us.”

“Ha .. . no way! I don’t teach yoga,” I blurted out. “Are you crazy, I would never be a yoga teacher.”

In the moment, what I said felt to be complete and utter truth.

Sure, I liked yoga. And sure, I practiced. But was I the beginnings of a teacher? Err, doubt it. Did I even like yoga that much? Uhh well . . .Let alone the talking? To groups of people? To tell them what to do? For at least an hour? Agrhh, no thank you!

Hmm. We stood there, staring at our toes buried in the sand, still hesitant to paddle out.

“Fine, we can do a few things,”  I said as I probably rolled my eyes. Then for the next few minutes I stumbled awkwardly  through leading a few stretches that, at times, resembled yoga asana. Soon after, we paddled out into the icy Pacific . . .

And while my words that morning, “I will never be a teacher”, left an impression deeply etched into my psyche, flash-forward a few years later, something else deeper within would beg very differently of me. Just after the New Year, I broke the news to my same surfer friends.

“Ladies, I’m out. . .I can’t do this anymore.  I’m quitting my job. . . ” I hesitated and then told them my plans, “I’m off to yoga teacher training in Mexico. I already turned in my notice, I leave next month!”  

With large eyes and disbelief, “you’re doing what?!” they asked. Sure they were open-minded, but they weren’t exactly the type to forgo the stability of a salary and leap completely into the unknown.  I wasn’t sure I was that type either, but here I was about to do it.

Eight years later and here I am, a yoga teacher. Mine isn’t a story of overnight success, but more of a bumpy road, ups and downs, twists and turns, periods of teaching, periods of hibernation, periods of discovery and re-inspiration. It hasn’t been clear cut or logically defined, but still, I lean into this journey of becoming a guide for our yoga practice.

So for the ones who thought they’d never teach yoga, but then listened to a different calling deep in their heart. . .

And for those who started this journey, but are now questioning why. . .  

Here are a few insights that I will tell my younger self when time travel becomes a reality. Until then, perhaps they will help you as you forge your unique path.

1. Begin

Start here, where you are. Start now. You don’t have to teach yoga everyday, but you must begin.

At this point, consider yourself a guide as you lead class. And let yourself think out of the box to find a comfortable space to teach in and gain experience.

Try getting out of the studio and teach in less intimidating locations for less intimidating audiences. Hold a class in nature – at a park or at the beach. Offer some lunchtime yoga at your work. Host an informal class during a weekend getaway with friends. Not all classes have to be 90 or 60 minutes. Maybe 30 minute practices are the perfect place for you to start.  

So begin, and little by little, you will become more comfortable with your voice, your instructions, your sequences, your knowing and your not knowing.

2. Get on the schedule

After you log those initial hours and sub some classes at your local studio, step up and get on the regular schedule. Teach.

But also know that sometimes plans, ideas, and goals change. And this is okay.

For example, during my early yoga years, I loved fast vinyasa classes. My favorite classes were led by talented teachers who moved us quickly through inspiring flows. They guided us effortlessly (it appeared) through well thought out sequences, each unique day in and day out.  

That’s the kind of yoga I knew.  That’s the kind of yoga I liked. That’s the kind of yoga I expected to flow out of me as I taught. But, reality check, that kind of yoga didn’t.

I kept at it for awhile, stumbling, refining, improving little by little. But eventually I decided to stop trying.

. . . for awhile (like more than a year awhile).

But guess what?

3. Interruptions and pauses are OKAY

Stepping away from what you were trying to be or trying to achieve is fine. These breaks can turn into periods of learning, refinement, re-dedication and growth. These breaks are a hibernation of sorts, where if you give yourself time and support, your inspiration to walk the teachers path will come back in the right way and in the right time.

For me it was while rediscovering yin yoga. During one such hiatus, a few years after my original yoga teacher ambitions, I last-minute enrolled in a yin yoga training and it shifted everything.

4. Be yourself. Find an aspect that you believe in, something that draws you in and be with that

In yin, I found a great balance of being able to teach slow and to talk less – a way of teaching that was very fitting for my natural introvert personality. In addition, I was able to more solidly grasp the main teachings and less complicated practice. So when I taught yin I kept it simple and my critical, perfectionist self was much more able to tolerate my teaching ability.

Additionally, in the yin practice, I admired how it gave students space. Lots and lots of space to feel your body, to observe your mind, and to go within slowly to be with what was. The practice pretty much forces you to slow down, and then naturally invites you to move deeper into the inner space.

Sometimes I feel this aspect of yoga is lost in western vinyasa flows, but is so needed in our fast-paced modern culture. So in my rediscovery of the yin approach, I was lured back into wanting to share this type of experience of yoga with others.

So when you’re re-inspired and reconnected to why you want to teach . . .

5. Get on the schedule (again)

That’s right, when the time feels right, get on the regular schedule again. Then, give yourself time to teach and evolve your craft. Teaching over time is how you gain experience.

6. Evolve

When you are ready, immerse yourself into your next level of teaching. Sometimes this takes initiative on your part. Sometimes it happens with a gentle push from those you work with.

For me, the next phase in my teaching came while living in Costa Rica.

Teaching abroad can be magic for a few reasons.

If you are not teaching frequently then these short term opportunities are a great way to immerse yourself and teach more consistently, perhaps even daily.

In addition, many of these opportunities are for teaching travelers. This means you will get to teach a wide variety of people, at many levels in their practice. And sure sometimes you will be thrown waaayyyy out of your comfort zone, but luckily you will figure out how to handle this. In fact, as you step into it, I bet you will surprise yourself.

Teaching abroad allows you to get out of your normal surroundings and step into teaching yoga in a whole new way. So yes, hello yoga trade opportunities!  

But that reminds me . . .

7. Don’t quit your day job (in the beginning)

If you are fresh out of a YTT, do yourself a favor and don’t create more stress than is necessary. Having multiple streams of income while you are gaining experience and refining your craft is key.  

For me, having remote web design work has allowed me the funds to cover expenses and to continue to invest in my yoga education. I have also been able to find a nice balance between creativity on and off a computer, while escaping burnout from either side.

Plus, in the beginning, it was very helpful to not have to force myself to teach before I felt ready.

And who knows, maybe those at your current job are great students for your first teaching gigs. I have many times been surprised by who is curious and interested to see what this yoga thing is all about. Could it be you to introduce them to yoga? Could it be your experience and view of yoga that inspires them into the practice?

So again, it’s key to know what  aspect of yoga you really want to share. What messages are you passionate to teach?

8. Know what excites you

If you more consciously know what excites you about the practice, and more consciously weave those messages through your teachings, then you will effortlessly stay within your realm of inspiration. When you are connected to your inspiration, others will resonate and be inspired too.

In the beginning, since I am not a huge talker and speaking in front of groups is out of my comfort zone, I struggled with understanding why I actually wanted to teach.

But eventually, I realized I was excited and wanted to talk to students about the energy healing benefits of yoga and the related practices of sound healing and Reiki.  

Sure, I enjoy yoga asana, but what lights me up is sharing my understanding of certain benefits, for example, how movement and breathwork prepare you for meditation, how your subtle energy body has time to balance and heal itself, how you can use sound for reaching deep states of peace, how you can be fully with your experience to transform it. . .  

These are the conversations that I get excited about. And these are the sparks of joy, that as a teacher, are so important to feel.

Not every student will be sparked on your idea of this or that. But you will resonate with some. And if you make a difference in only one life, wouldn’t that still be success?

So what lights you up?

9. Know and then be. Experience, evolve and expand

There’s no need to be rigid in claiming what you believe in and what you have to share through your teachings. Keep immersing in the practices. Keep learning. Keep growing. Let your message and depth evolve.

And whether you’re sure or not sure if you have truly discovered what lights you up, stay open to your next level of growth, as a person, as a yogi, as a teacher.

You don’t have to figure it out in one day, you probably will be unraveling this your entire life. This is a life practice with bits and pieces of delicious goodness to taste and savor along the way. Give yourself time to experience. To practice. To learn. To grow. To connect with community, to connect with spirit, to connect with your deepest part of self, your soul essence.

This will lead you to the true magic of your soul. And upon touching into this, you will understand, this is your gift to share with the world, through your teachings.

10. Start here. Start now. Go on, take your next step . . .

Here are a few upcoming opportunities for learning, growth and connection within the YT community:

1 – Deep Ecology of Wellness  

2 – Yoga Trade + Membership 

3 – Learn Reiki energy healing & surfing on Retreat w/ Neomi 

Cover Photo:  Shaka Costa Rica 

About Neomi:

 

Neomi simply wishes to help make the world a more beautiful place by helping others to discover the love that rests deep within their heart. Sometimes this love is hidden, very far out of sight and under many layers. But, with the practices of surf and soul – especially the energy healing practices of sound and Reiki – she believes all people can access and experience their soul essence, their soul power, their soul light and love.

 

 

Join Neomi for a SurfSoul Retreat this August in Costa Rica. Throughout the week you will journey into your next level of wholeness – a vibrant expression of feeling deep happiness, love and joy for life through yoga and surf adventures.

In this small group retreat, you will dive into both inner and outer adventures. You will learn to surf, practice yoga and meditation, experience crystal singing bowl sound healing and learn the sacred art of Reiki energy healing.

Check out her website for more information about this: Surf and Soul Adventure 

 

Surf Into Yoga: Rochelle Ballard

Words from Rochelle Ballard. Originally published in The Current.

When I was a young girl growing up on Kauai, life was simple and pretty sweet. My biggest adversity was being caucasian, a racial minority in Hawaii. Other than feeling some insecurities and inferiority at times, I was in an environment where the world was my oyster in a small shell. As kids we grew up playing in the tropical jungles of our backyards and riding our bikes to the beach to surf and play when school was out.

Around that time, my next door neighbor was a yoga teacher and a massage therapist. One day, at 16, I experienced my first surfing injury; I fell awkwardly on a wave, felt a pinch in my muscles and pain shot through my body, which shortened my breath and restricted my back and neck.  

The next day, I walked next door to my neighbor’s house to see what she could do to get rid of the pain and limitations I was feeling. She massaged me, shared some yoga postures, and most importantly, taught me about my breath and how to use it with awareness.  

A couple years went by, and by that time I was out of high school and decided that I wanted to be a wellness facilitator. I immediately returned to my next door neighbor to learn more about Yoga and massage training courses. I also learned from some great teachers in Hanalei, those who taught me deep tissue, lomi lomi, and sports massage.  

As I continued developing my skills as a wellness facilitator, I set out on the World Professional Surfing Tour to pursue my dreams of becoming a world class surfer and traveling the world, in search of the best waves and cultural experiences. During the first few years of my professional surfing career, I split my time between competing and practicing bodywork on the most elite male surfers on tour.  

After a fews years, I decided to further focus on my surfing career, applying my learnings and experience with wellness into my own progression of athleticism. Yoga became an integral part of program, as it enabled me to focus my mind and body, calm my peaking adrenaline, fears, anticipations, and disappointments.  My breath work and the sequences of Ashtanga, Hatha, and Pranayama, brought my mind and body into each present moment. As a professional athlete, the demands of travel, pressure of competition, and constant body exertion continued to draw me into a deeper practice of yoga. I remember taking classes whenever I had the opportunity, but it was my personal practice, listening to my body, exercises with breath, and dedication to trusting my instincts that grew my experience with yoga.  

By the end of 2006, I had been on the world championship surfing tour for 17 years. It was then that I decided to retire, and when it became time to change career gears, I chose to refocus my energy on wellness, including practicing massage again.  

From here, it was a natural step for me to document my practice in the form of an instructional yoga video inspired by surfing. Throughout my surf career, I’d made surf videos with my sponsors and ex husband. I’d also devoted time to give back to the sport and to the younger generations. This came naturally to me, so I surrounded myself with a team to execute the project. John Roderick, Chanelle Sladics, Leah Dawson, Jianca Lazarus, and my brother Hoku Gordines all contributed to creating the first Surf Into Yoga project. Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter, John Swift, and Kai Walsh, all surf friends, gifted their music to the project as well. The visual imagery of this film, the beautiful blue waters and waves of Hawaii, Indonesia and Micronesia, established the surfing inspiration and brought a dynamic feeling to the video. The beauty of the island elements – white sand beaches, black lava rocks, and lush tropical environments were captured in all instructional sequences. This was intentional – we wanted to give people from all over the world, from cities, rural towns, and inland locations an opportunity to experience the serenity and feel the aloha of these places.

This project was only the beginning of Surf Into Yoga. From the video concept stemmed a lifestyle business that at its core is an integration of surfing and yoga. Today, I’ve molded my two greatest passions together in synchronicity, and every day I get to share my experiences with my clients – the adversity of competing, stories from traveling the world, learning to be the most dynamic athlete I could be, focusing on preventing injury, and recovering from injury.  Surf Into Yoga is my way of giving back to the world, one person at a time, with exclusive attention. My business clientele extends to my visiting and resident clients, friends, family, the youth and non-profit groups for at risk kids and the less privileged.

Each day, it is my pledge to continue dedicating my life to my passion for surfing and wellness and I do this with aloha in my heart and a continued inspiration to share and learn.

Aloha.

SURF! Join Rochelle Ballard and the Yoga Trade Founders March 23-30, 2019 at the Yoga Farm, Costa Rica for a week of SURF COACHING, Yoga, and Sustainable Living!!!

https://www.yogafarmcostarica.org/surf-with-rochelle-ballard-and-yoga-trade/

 

 

Rochelle Ballard’s integrative Surf Into Yoga approach to wellness is born out of the knowledge and abilities acquired over 20 years of athletic triumph, injury, recovery, and victory. In the last 10 years she has apprenticed with facilitators and healer’s in the practice of Lomi Lomi, Chi Nei Sang, Polarity, Deep Tissue, Aroma touch Essential Oils, and Reflexology. Rochelle believes that healing comes from within one’s own desires to allow for change and growth. The best form of healing comes from joy, laughter and gratitude. Through forgiveness, prayer and meditation we are able to accept and acknowledge. By changing our habits, ways of thinking, eating, and movement, we are able to create long lasting dynamic physical changes.

surfintoyoga.com

@surfintoyoga

 

This piece was originally published in THE CURRENT by Yoga Trade. You can download it here:

https://yogatrade.com/the-current/

 

Yoga Retreats: An Escape From Reality or Deeper Engagement?

The first yoga retreat I attended was intended to be a mere pit-stop on a lone trip around South East Asia. I was not-so-fresh out of university and in need of some serious TLC. My shoulders were permanently up to my ears, jaw always tightly clenched and the worries of the world sat in my stomach like lead stewing in acid. I arrived with tonsillitis, my pasty white skin contrasting sharply with the ruby red rash all over my body. In short, I was a mess.

I’d barely practised yoga before, but decided on a whim to try a retreat as a kick-start to a trip I’d imagined would be full of cocktails on beaches and partying with strangers. My focus was the location; little beach huts on a gorgeous Thai island, idyllic gardens stretching into sand and sea. On day one, I reluctantly dragged myself from the beach for the first yoga class, relatively disinterested and quietly cursing over the time I was losing to bask in the sunshine. It therefore came as a total surprise that whilst lying in Savasana at the end, I couldn’t stop tears from rolling down my cheeks. One by one at first, slowly but surely erupting into quiet sobs that came from depths I didn’t know existed.

After the class, I shyly loitered around the teacher, waiting to ask what had just happened to me. I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable and had no idea where this explosion of emotion had come from. Was I somehow doing yoga wrong? Only an hour before, I’d been lounging on the beach without a care in the world…or so I thought. I was told it was normal, common even, for deep emotional trauma to be released during yoga. This certainly had never happened to me at the gym, and I couldn’t help but wonder why this class was any different.

Curious, I persisted. I observed as layers of tension melted away day by day. I watched as my body and mind somehow became stilled by my previously shallow and laboured breath. What fascinated me the most was how deep the transformation seemed to be going in such a short space of time. I arrived feeling depleted and lost, but left only days later totally full; full of joy and calm and hope and excitement and energy, sensations I hadn’t felt for a long time. The experience ended up colouring my entire trip, moulding my decisions and steering me towards more fulfilling choices than I perhaps previously had in mind. Decision number one? Book another yoga retreat.

When I arrived at the next retreat centre in Cambodia only weeks later, I connected instantly. The place gave me tingles. The community at Hariharalaya practice and teach integral yoga, living yoga both on and off the mat – a concept although new to me at the time, resonated like nothing before. I was hungry to learn, eager to go deeper into this practice that had rapidly become so important to me. I could write essay after essay on what arose for me during that week, but suffice to say that my time at Hariharalaya was significant, eye-opening and life-changing. I left there a different person, evolved in some way I wasn’t quite sure of. How was this possible in only one week?

Despite travelling hundreds of kilometres to Indonesia after I left Hariharalaya, I knew I had to go back. Within weeks, I turned around and turned up again, excited for what I thought was to be round two of a personal transformation. But this time, something quite different occurred to me. I had been so focused on the power of yoga, I hadn’t noticed the power of a retreat. Of the particular format which, over mere days can prompt radical transformation; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

It was only by going to this same place a second time that I realised this. The first time I had been lost in my own metamorphosis – which by the way, is by no means a onetime thing! This second time, I couldn’t help but observe others. I watched as people, just like me, arrived frazzled and fatigued, tight and tense. Not in all cases, of course, but for the large part, it transpired that people had come as a means of release and relaxation, escape from their daily lives. As time passed, those who had made nervous small talk on the first day slowly crept out of themselves, sharing with sincerity and support. Others became more introverted, tucking themselves away and tapping into creative outlets. Some delved deep into yoga, others delved deep into novels. But each and every person radiated a satisfaction and content which grew exponentially as each day passed. Day by day, I watched as this new family opened up, blossoming in the light of the space that was held for them.

This, to me, is the root of what a retreat does: it holds space for transformation. It guides, teaches and nurtures, coaxing innate qualities to burst forward. Yoga is the tool, the practice around which all of this comes together. For many, there is neither time nor motivation to practice yoga every day, allowing the huge benefits of doing so to be revealed only during a retreat. Although tasty food and exotic locations often provide the temptation to book, it is this space that people come for, often unknowingly. It seems these days that we don’t allow ourselves enough time and space to explore creativity and spirituality, to play, to connect with nature and ourselves. It is this which I find so inspiring about retreats; that a formula so simple can provoke such a profound response.

The word retreat comes from the Latin retrahere, meaning ‘pull back.’ People’s perceptions of a retreat are no doubt shaped by the spectrum of its synonyms, from sanctuary and seclusion to withdrawal, isolation and hiding. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a retreat as a “process of withdrawing, especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable.” In many ways, this is what I was doing when I booked my first retreat. I mindlessly entered my card details as procrastination from the endless difficulties of university work, daydreaming of myself on a beach in Thailand. The sad fact is that many of us feel the need to withdraw or pull back from fast-paced, high-pressure lifestyles in order to be able to process what is going on around us.

Whilst this may be the reason that some of us choose to go on a yoga retreat, it is certainly not its purpose. Whether we realise it or not, by consciously setting time aside to step out of usual routines and their accompanying anxieties, we are prompted to journey inward. Retreats offer us an environment in which we are able to listen to ourselves without distraction, to realise, reassess and refocus. This might expose depths of ourselves which have been overlooked. Suppressed energies can surface, and as such, going on retreat is not always easy. It is not an escape from reality, but a deeper engagement with it.

In taking the time to stop, listen and reflect, new perspectives naturally arise. As Marcel Proust once wrote, “the voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” This to me beautifully captures the longer-term benefits of going on retreat. Even though we must return to that from which we have withdrawn, we do so with new eyes. We go back to our roles, relationships and responsibilities with a fresh perspective. In this sense, the process of withdrawal on retreat is tactical; sometimes it is important to withdraw in order to advance.

 

 

 

Rachel Bilski is the co-founder of Shanti Niwas, a yoga collaborative currently holding yoga retreats and classes in Portugal. You can follow her musings on yoga, travel and life on the Shanti Niwas blog: www.shantiniwas.com/snblog

Pat Bailey: Live The Life You Love

Living the life you love is a delicate balance of following your heart and dedicated work. The most inspiring humans I connect with are living this balance. Pat Bailey is one of these humans. Pat is a student and teacher of yoga, a traveler, a poet, a photographer, and an amazing business woman. She has created a life she loves thru manifestation, devotion, and consistent effort. Here we catch up with Pat to learn from her experiences and creative offerings. HELL YES PAT! Thank YOU for shining bright and sharing your wisdom!

What led to the creation of The Hell Yes Life? Was there a defining moment?

I created The Hell Yes Agency, an Influencer Marketing Agency, a few years ago after figuring out how to monetize my brand as an Influencer and creating a team doing the same. The Hell Yes Life was born, as an extension of this brand, at the end of last year to encompass all of the “Hell Yes” things I am doing, and to share my wisdom and expertise in various ways. I wish I could say there was a “defining moment” that led to the creation of my current projects, but it was and is more like synchronicity and a culmination of 46 years of living, learning and teaching that has come together as a practice that evolves and changes daily.

Can you give us some insight into how you combine yogic principles and entrepreneurship?

For a long time, as a corporate person and maybe like many people, I juggled my personal feelings and approach to life with the 9 to 5 corporate paradigm. My heart projects and longing to live a deeper, more meaningful life were always on the back burner while I was going through the motions of working for a secure paycheck. It never felt authentic to me and eventually, after several attempts, I decided to jump and trust and I left the corporate world to create and live a more authentic, heart-forward life. As I was getting closer and closer to jumping I completed my 200HR Bhakti Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training with Rusty Wells, and it was here that I began to hear my heart clearly.

It was natural to begin creating this life I wanted to live with my heart first in a yogic way, because I am a yogi first. And, more than that, I knew that I was on the right path, and continue to feel this way, because there was no compromise or putting anything on the back burner this time – I could be all of the parts of me at once combining yoga, business and creative endeavors that my heart loves. Because choreographing this dance, balance, beautiful blend of two complimentary things comes easily to me I knew this was something I was supposed to share with others. I feel deeply that this is part of my dharma.

The two are interdependent, not separate. When we separate yogic principles from anything entrepreneurial is when things are harder, not authentic and maybe (I would argue) not as successful or fulfilling for us.

Kindness, Truthfulness, Righteousness, Wisdom, Simplicity, Gratitude, Humility and Self-discipline are core “yogic principles,” and the traits of most successful entrepreneurs.  The work that I do with students in my Hell Yes Academy is based on these principles and applying them to branding, and creating a more heart-forward and authentic life. I begin, just like every yoga class begins: with an invitation for students to set clear intentions for what they want to experience/create. And every bit of the three months together is a blending of yogic principles and successful business, branding and entrepreneurial skills.

Why do you think a lot of yogis struggle with their relationships with ‘business’ and money? Any tips on how to work through this?

I’ve thought a lot about this, both personally as a yogi and as a entrepreneur and coach. It is unfortunate that so many yoga teachers struggle with this because it is keeping them from living their dharma more deeply and sharing their talents, skills and practice with more people.

In my experience, yogis struggle with the promotion of their “business” and accepting and/or asking for proper compensation because they feel like it is not “yogic.” When I hear this I instantly think and feel like they are not acting from their heart space but rather their ego space.  If in your heart as a yoga teacher you feel deeply that you are living your dharma by sharing your practice with as many people as you can, then it is your absolute, divine responsibility to promote what you do to everyone you meet in order to fulfill this dharma. The fact that this intention is seen as, or turns into, a “business” somehow clouds the intention for some. If this is the clear intent, then you aren’t promoting your “business” or collecting compensation for yourself, you are doing this for a higher purpose.

There is incredible grace and beauty in humility and sometimes many of us navigating yoga and business find it hard to balance the two. A successful yoga teacher, living her dharma with confidence and heart, promotes her yoga as a business from her heart space and graciously and humbly accepts the hard-earned compensation knowing she is deserving because she is utilizing her wisdom, life and vessel to do so. Do you see how a shift in thought, approach, and clear intention can change how you think, feel and maybe act on this subject?

I invite yoga teachers who struggle with promoting their business, or themselves and asking for/accepting money to do it, to think about their dharma, their intentions for sharing their practice, and to do the asking and earning from their heart place – not their ego. There are plenty of causes and organizations to donate excess compensation to for yoga teachers collecting more than they need. Imagine a yoga teacher collective consciousness that stepped into this shift in thinking, that shared their practice/dharma with more people, and that gave their excess to deserving causes.

How important is manifestation to you? Do you practice it daily?

Manifesting is everything to me. Realizing that I am creating my reality every moment with a single thought is powerful. When I feel out of flow, off balance, sad or anything that is not authentic, I remind myself that I have the power to shift this with a single thought. This has been a lifelong practice for me ever since I was a little girl.

Because the power of manifestation, the practice of doing so, and the positive results are so important to me, and the outcome of the life I have created and model living, I incorporate this teaching into my work with students, on and off the mat.

Can you share some of the positives and negatives of living life as a digital nomad?

A few of the most positive aspects of living life as a digital nomad are the adventure and the incredible freedom, independence and empowerment that it gives you. When you let go of a home, a place, a set/small community, the idea of an office, etc. and you open up to the possibility of having all of these things and more in a bigger place and different way: anywhere in the world, this is an incredible feeling. Big magic and shifts happen when you surrender into this intention; the world literally opens up to you. I feel this happening every single day and this, and the feeling of lightness and open possibility, are my very favorite things about being a digital nomad.

A common misconception about being a digital nomad is that it’s easy, and many people don’t realize that in order to do it successfully you have to plan ahead and create revenue streams for yourself which you can earn while being anywhere in the world. If you can combine passive income, and on-going income with opportunities while you travel this is ideal. And, because this sometimes takes more work and hustle than the traditional 9 to 5 corporate job, it is not easy.

Digital nomads are true entrepreneurs, and in my opinion the ultimate independents. One of the compromises of this way of life is sometimes community. If building a solid community in one place to share your practice is an important intention for you this will be difficult if you choose to be a digital nomad. Instead you might set an intention to build smaller communities around the world, and a larger “global” community.

How do you maintain a healthy relationship with technology?

With A LOT of discipline! Because being online, and plugged into the grid is a big part of what I do dharma-wise and for my livelihood, I spend a lot of time utilizing technology – technology is also an essential part of being a digital nomad. How I balance a healthy, spiritual, creative and happy life while utilizing technology daily has everything to do with the routines, habits, rituals, and schedule/intentions I set and practice every day. I share this technique and some inspiration for doing this with my students in the academy. It comes down to discipline, some days I’m better at this than other days – it’s a practice!

What does a typical morning look like for you? Do you have morning rituals?

Yes, I believe in the power of a morning ritual for setting the tone and clear intention for the day.  Doing this every morning has saved me some days when I feel isolated, anxious, unsure, etc. I meditate every single morning, this is part of my morning ritual. The first hour of each day is a no tech hour, it’s my yummy time to go inside of myself and find love there for me. I started this devoted practice three years ago when I was healing from a broken heart and now it is part of my daily habit/ritual. This grounds me when I feel out of flow. Sometimes I add a listen to an inspirational podcast or video to the end of this meditation and it becomes moving meditation. I might do this while practicing yoga, making breakfast or taking a shower. I try to have a modest, healthy breakfast each morning. After this, I plug in much like someone might read the morning paper. The morning paper for me consists of blog articles from a running list I have saved, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (in that order). The end of my morning ritual always includes setting a clear intention for the day and reminding myself that my job as a manifestor and spirit living a heart-forward life is to be happy as much as possible each day, and I make a very short list of 1 or 2 things I will accomplish for the day. Then I start my day.

If you could tell all aspiring entrepreneurs just one sentence of wisdom, what would it be?

How about two (long) sentences? I think Patanjali’s wisdom is most powerful for all of us but especially for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly in the yoga/heart space:

“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.”

What trends or changes do you foresee within the next 5-10 years for the yoga and wellness community/industry?

I’m very excited that the conversation about “mindful work,” and “mindfulness in the workplace” is now prevalent and nearly mainstream. The conversation began in a whisper about three years ago, and now many CEOs, start-ups and even bigger companies and brands are recognizing the benefits and outcomes and the conversation is now broad, bold and really creative and exciting. It is because of this that my teachings and approach to yogic branding are appreciated and respected.

The collective shift happening right now to move away from old paradigms and into more heart-forward, heart-based living with the lovers of these lives designing their own lives will continue. Every single day an old wall dissolves and innovative alternatives are erected. This is because more of us want something deeper, something more meaningful; this is because we are all listening now more than ever before – collectively and globally, but especially in the yoga and wellness community/industry.

Because the grid is being redesigned, the sky is the limit! The most aware and innovative and ready professionals in the yoga and wellness community/industry will be creating and hosting transformative “experiences” instead of the traditional “retreat” and they are doing this already, right now. Offices are now in cafes and on the beach, yoga is happening virtually and it is becoming medicine prescribed by doctors to patients. The value of yoga is increasing, and this will continue. The practice and teaching of yoga is increasing, and this will continue.

Who and/or what inspires you most right now?

I am inspired greatly by free-thinkers, innovators, and disruptors. I look to them to stretch my way of thinking, to challenge what I think and know to be possible. I am in-awe of Jason Silva and mesmerized every time I witness one of his videos knowing that I am watching someone in pure flow sharing it with the world in a courageous and impeccably authentic way. He inspires me greatly. I am inspired by Tim Ferris and his invitations to think about how we think about work. My current muses also include writers like Rupi Kaur, Arthur Rimbauld and Ayn Rand.  They are bold, courageous, independent and incredibly talented.

Tell us about your upcoming New Year’s Retreat with Mary Tilson…

Xinalani is a very special place, I discovered it on retreat myself with Rusty Wells, my teacher, a few years ago. The energy of this paradise in Mexico will set the tone for this retreat that Mary Tilson (Yoga Trade Travel Rep) and I are creating to share with students. For me, one of the most exciting things about this experience is that I am co-creating it with Mary, a yoga teacher and forever student, that I respect greatly. Together we are blending teachings for a practice on and off the mat that will invite students to take ownership of their lives and begin thinking about ways that they can create, and as the retreat is called:   “Live the Life You Love.”

The retreat takes place at the end of the year, December 30 – January 6, a very important and auspicious time for cutting cords and setting clear intentions, for celebrating and letting go.   Mary and I will be taking every opportunity during this time together to share our wisdom and create sacred, inspirational space for the group to feel empowered and supported to follow their hearts and it is our hope that each person leaves with a plan for ways that they can begin living a life that they love.

 

Connect with Pat:

Live the Life You Love

IG:

@patbailey

@thehellyeslife

Life Post Yoga Retreat: Maintaining the Bliss Buzz

Traveling and spending time at a Yoga Retreat or Training Center is one of the most beneficial ways to deepen or re-ignite a yoga practice. Yoga retreats and immersive training centers are an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual bliss! We are fed high-quality, often organic, whole food meals, and we typically do not have to even worry about cleaning our plates after the daily feasts. A daily, often rigorous schedule of asana, pranayama and meditation rejuvenate our minds and bodies while the support of like-minded teachers and fellow yogis hold the space for our transformation and emotional release. We experience decreased responsibilities, limited social media and an absence of addictive substances during the days lived at our yoga sanctuary. We are taken care of and lovingly provided for and held. We often connect so deeply with our fellow yogis on retreat that we question how we ever lived without them in the first place.

Ahhhhh, yes, the blissful bubble of yoga immersion! The environment and community encourage our self-expression and exploration of deep, authentic conversation. We feel so connected, healthy, centered and serene which is the perfect internal environment for our highest selves to shine through.

So, what happens when we leave our yoga bubble and go back home?

We discover on our retreat how easy it can be to consistently practice and embody a yoga lifestyle in a controlled environment purposefully constructed to support yogic principles and transformation. The real world might suddenly feel harsher in contrast to the cozy yoga shalas, yurts and tents we had grown accustomed to. We won’t automatically have many hours a day carved out of our schedules to practice yoga and meditate. Social media, news and other distractions are abundant. And what? We must feed ourselves and clean up? This might feel like too much to handle.

The greatest challenge of leaving a yoga retreat is carrying our recently connected, healthy, centered and serene selves back into the habits, stresses and relationships of our daily lives. It might feel like our yoga saturated bodies and souls transformed in some way making reintegration into the regular world uncomfortable. It may take us time to relate in a new way to our external environment.

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When I return from trainings, retreats and other Yoga Trade travel opportunities, I often find it takes me a period of adjustment. There are obvious extremes I will adjust to like the climate change between the jungle of Costa Rica and my home in Germany, but more importantly, I give myself time to acclimate my inner climate to my regular life at home.

Here are a few tips I find helpful to help integrate, prolong the yoga-bliss-buzz, and stay grounded in the regular world after a yoga immersion:

1. Home Sanctuary

Create a small retreat at home. If you don’t already have a sacred practice space in your home, find a small room or corner that you can create a mini yoga sanctuary. Bring your yoga mat, any props, a pillow, candles and incense. You may even create a small altar with items that inspire you. The space doesn’t have to be big to feel like a little slice of bliss at home. This home sanctuary might even inspire you to consistently practice and dedicate more time to your self-care and well-being than before.

2. Nourish Your Physical Body

If the diet you followed on your retreat was very different than your regular diet, it might be a shock to your body to jump back into old diet regimes – especially if at the retreat, you avoided sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. You may even consider incorporating any new eating habits you learned that really worked for you. Take some time to fuel and nourish your body with what it needs and take it easy on cravings. Treats are good, but over indulgence after a week or longer on a retreat might leave you feeling less than optimal.

3. Set Goals

We often quickly embrace the schedule at a retreat as we experience the luxury of so much free-time and limited responsibilities. If your regular schedule doesn’t allow for 3 hours of asana and meditation every morning, set a realistic goal that will still get your body moving and soul connected. You might wake up 30 minutes early every day and go straight to your sacred practice space. Maybe you find a local studio with a lunch time or evening class that you can attend a few times a week. Find a self-care and yoga goal that works with your reality! A consistent physical and mental practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your highest self, long after the retreat buzz wears off.

4. Reconnect

Taking time out of our lives to focus on self-care and personal growth often requires a sacrifice in another area of our lives. If you disconnected on your retreat from loved ones to focus your energy on your relaxation and transformation, take time when you return to reconnect with them. Spend some quality time and share your retreat experience with your partner, family and friends. Ask them what they have been doing while you were gone. These honest conversations will help rebuild and strengthen any weakened connections during your time away.

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5. Be Gentle

Did you discover yourself feeling more gentle, compassionate, honest, open and free than ever before on your retreat? The yoga retreat bubble is the perfect place to truly practice and embody the teachings of yoga. Sometimes, the real world with all of the challenges, stressors and calamities that inevitably transpire makes acting like an enlightened yogi nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your calm, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself with unhelpful self-talk, “I was just on a yoga retreat! I should be better/kinder/calmer than this!” Be gentle and patient with yourself. The yoga bubble is a perfect place to practice the lessons and teachings in a controlled environment, and the real world is like the exam we get to finally apply what we learned. If you want to incorporate the teachings and be better at being you in the world, practice.

I hope these tips help you ease back into daily life post-retreat with more grace and patience while maintaining the yoga bliss and teachings. Namaste.

 

 

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Sarah is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative. She loves to explore herself and the world through the lenses of yoga and travel and constantly challenge herself to uncover truth and unity within and around her.

CONNECT:

http://www.la-yoga-vida.com/

How to Find An Affordable Yoga Retreat

Yoga retreats are all the rage right now, but what if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on one week of rest and relaxation? A yoga retreat doesn’t have to break the bank to be beneficial. There are affordable yoga retreats out there, it just may take a bit more effort to find them. Here are four things you should be looking for when searching out an affordable yoga retreat.

Tips For Finding an Affordable Yoga Retreat:

 

1. Try a Less Popular Destination

Everyone knows that Bali and Costa Rica are popular yoga retreat destinations. While it is possible to find more affordable retreats in these locations, they will be more rare to come across. Try looking at retreats in less popular yoga destinations. Hint: They may be closer to the popular destinations than you would think. For instance, a yoga retreat in Costa Rica may be more than you can afford, but try looking at neighboring Nicaragua. Retreats can often be found there for half the price. Travel in the “off-season.” Yoga retreats in the fall and spring months are often less expensive. It’s harder for people to take time off of school and work in the middle of a season. Retreats over holidays and during the summer are likely to be much more expensive.

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2. Find an ‘All Inclusive’ Yoga Retreat

Yoga retreats can get expensive very fast if you don’t factor in the cost of any extras that aren’t included. Obviously there is the airfare to get to your location, which is rarely, if ever, included. On top of that, many retreats don’t include all meals, airport transfers, extra activities, etc. in the base rate. If the rest of your group is going on all the added excursions, you’re not going to want to be left out. Even if you say you won’t do any of the add on activities to save money, once you’re there it might be hard to resist. Some retreats even charge more for yoga classes over once per day. There are, however, many yoga retreats that are all inclusive, meaning everything you will need during your stay is included. You may still have to pay for an airport transfer, or tips for the hospitality staff at the end of your stay, but it will be considerably less than an ‘a la carte’ yoga retreat.

3. Share a Room to Cut Costs

It may be tempting to really treat yourself and get a private room or cabana on your yoga retreat. After all, you’re already taking the leap to care for yourself in a big way. Why not go full out and live in the lap of luxury for a week? If the big private room is worth it to you, by all means, go for it. If you are looking to cut costs, though, a shared room is the better option. Most yoga retreat centers charge a base rate by calculating the cost of whichever size room you choose plus anything that’s included, like meals. Sharing a room, or even staying in a dormitory style room, is often the cheapest option on a yoga retreat. This can actually be a major benefit in the long run, though! Not only do you save money, but you have the opportunity to really get to know your fellow retreat goers.

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4. Book Far in Advance

Not every yoga retreat will have a special ‘early bird’ price, but many will. Yoga retreat leaders want to get people to their retreats, and having an early promotion is a great way to start signing people up and getting the word out there. If you’re willing to commit a year in advance, this is an excellent way to find an affordable yoga retreat. By booking far in advance, you are also able to get the best flight deals to wherever your yoga retreat is located. Check out websites like Skyscanner and Kayak to find the best airline deals and track when the lowest prices will be available to purchase.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you find an affordable yoga retreat. There are many options out there for budget friendly retreats, it may just take a bit more time and effort to find them. Once you do, you are well on your way to having the experience of a lifetime. The things you learn, and the connections you form on a yoga retreat are truly priceless. Whatever you spend on your yoga retreat will pay you back tenfold in experience.

 

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Eva Casey is a writer who travels around the world. She is editor-in-chief for WeTravel, a free group trip planning tool that makes finding or planning a yoga retreat anywhere around the world a breeze. 

 

 

 

 

Join Yoga Trade, Rochelle Ballard, and inspiring guest teachers on our first Sustainable Living Yoga Continuing Education Immersion! It is affordable, educational, and will be a super fun week! Connect at Yoga Trade or WeTravel.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING YOGA IMMERSION

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Three Reasons to Retreat

Want to travel to some of the worlds most stunning locations around the world, guided by inspiring teachers, surrounded by a positive like-minded community, while enjoying daily wholesome foods and yoga? A yoga retreat is a magical experience. It is one of the best ways to self-nourish, gain perspective on life through an intentional ’time-out’ and possibly transform your life. While there are many benefits to a retreat (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) the following three reasons are what keeps me creating these sacred spaces for students:

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1. It shifts perspectives

When you physically travel to new locations (even if it is only hours away!) you step out of your comfort zone. Exploring unfamiliar or foreign places encourages you to see the world through fresh eyes and in order to adapt you will need to learn from the people and cultures around you through receptivity, humility and compassion.

2. Improves Wellness

A well-integrated retreat program will include practices for self-inquiry, along with plenty of time for rest, play and adventure. Every retreat experience is designed to aid you through healthy routine in a supportive atmosphere in body, mind and spirit — imagine 8 hours of deep sleep, healthy wholesome meals, fresh air and sunshine, along with daily yoga and meditation. Through rest and reflection you may begin to notice aspects of your life you would like to adjust in order to create more well-being. Unhealthy patterns and habits are often recognized and surface when in these environments. Your teacher(s) will be able to teach you simple practices and suggest tools to transform your life and maintain well-being once you are back home.

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3. Builds community from the Heart

During a retreat there is power in the intimacy that is created with oneself, but most importantly there is a greater sense of connection and harmony felt as you share this experience as a collective. The dynamics are always unique to the individuals and circumstances brought together, yet all are encouraged to welcome one another from a place of authenticity. There are fewer ‘masks’ worn as you only know one another from a neutral and supportive space. You have time to be present with once another, without distractions or alternative motives. Community forms quite quickly as you spend time together on and off the mat and in a foreign context. Often these authentic connections become long lasting relationships and remind you to stay open-hearted as you move through life.

 

 

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LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

 

 

 

Join Living Yoga Ambassador Lauren Lee on one of her many amazing international yoga retreats! Check out THRIVE: A Soul Fueled Immersion for Wellness Entrepreneurs March 2017 in Costa Rica!!! Receive 10% off the retreat price when you use the promo code: CULTIVATE

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5 Life Lessons I Learned After Leading My Third Yoga Retreat In Costa Rica

I recently taught my third yoga retreat in Costa Rica at Blue Osa Eco-Resort and Spa, and I have to admit, leading retreats has gotten increasingly easier.

During the first retreat, I was on edge the entire time. “Are people happy? Am I doing everything right? Am I spending enough time with everyone? Does everyone feel included?” I felt I had to be “on” the whole time overseeing everything. By the third retreat, I realized I don’t need to be present every second.

During this last retreat twenty participants showed up with a disarming willingness to be present. We shared vulnerable parts of us, and we got to re-invent ourselves in a safe, welcoming environment. We also played tons of BananaGrams and colored Japanese postcards, among other things.

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By the end of the retreat I felt a sense of relief and pure joy, mixed with sadness for being separated from a wonderful group. I did it! After all emotions had the appropriate time to sink in, I was left with these five realizations:

1. People And Experiences Are What Matters Most In Life

Without the participants, the retreat center loses its essence and remains just a beautiful, empty space. The connection is where the magic lies. In the same way, memories filled with emotion and interaction are a lot brighter than the ones reserved for objects. Meeting other people constantly inspires me to realize that in the end, we all are share similar stories and struggles.

2. People Want To Have Fun

It’s just as important to participate in mindful activities as it is to not take yourself too seriously. To let go of expectations. To not not care about how you look during barre class. Or what you sound like while chanting a mantra. Leaving time for spontaneity and irrationality is a must to understand that the very nature of life is often times unexplainably beautiful.

3. Sometimes You Gotta Be A Leader

I am not usually someone who wants to be in charge. However, teaching retreats has taught me to step in a leadership position. Quit the indecision and work up confidence and guts! People on a yoga retreat want to be lead and they need structure. They are trying to get away from constant problem solving and being in control. They can’t be bothered with logistics and big decisions, so learning to take charge of others in these situations is helpful.

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4. You Can’t Control Everything

Even though I plan everything as precisely as possible before and during the retreat, unpredictable things happen. We had a guest leave within 24 hours because the jungle was too much. Several guests’s flights were delayed and their connection were missed. Not everything can go as planned, and we must stay open to facilitate, but also step back and let things unfold.

5. Community Can Be Formed Away From Home

Community is a subject close to my heart. All twenty of us arrived for a week of fun under the sun. And we all left feeling that we had new friends to enrich our lives. While community in the traditional sense is usually set in one place, we can find a unique type of community in several places around the world, and the connection is still going strong (thank you technology).

As the saying goes, teaching is a huge learning experience. Leading a yoga retreat is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself, test your skills and yes, learn from your mistakes too.

 

 

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Born and raised in Italy, Valentina is a full time yoga instructor who divides her time between Marin County, California and Matapalo, Costa Rica. When she isn’t hosting yoga retreats or blogging Valentina can be found trail running and baking quiche.

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Instagram: @valentinarose1111

Treat Your Heart

Slow down. Listen. Breathe. Feel.

No matter how many times I say, think, or hear those words; it is never enough.
We live in this incredible world, filled with energy vibrating on all different frequencies and wavelengths. The drumming grounded beat of the earth, rhythms of cleansing rain and ocean tides mixed with car engines, radio waves, lights waves, and satellite signals. The earth’s constant rotation aligned with planets and galaxies all around. People everywhere moving twenty-four hours a day in a variety of activity with thoughts and feelings that create their own pulsation.


When you think about all this, it is no wonder we often feel disconnected from nature, from others, from ourselves. How can we hear the voice of our heart amongst our abundant surroundings?

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The answers to this question are many. But for me, one answer is retreat. Finding a place of refuge to withdrawal for meditation, study and release. I take my yoga practice to Costa Rica where I can immerse my self in the beautiful tropics of jungle and ocean. Cell phones do not work and the effort to use the Internet, if it is even functioning, is hardly worth it. Retreat is not about escaping but rather reconnecting. Giving us an opportunity to pause, slow down, listen, breathe and feel. It is a nourishing gift that replenishes our soul.


All of a sudden you are waking up naturally to the sunrise and howler monkeys. Taking siesta during the late afternoon because your body is telling you, “rest, the heat is too much.” Darkness falls and it is not long before you are asleep not realizing it is not even 9pm. You have begun to attune to the pace of nature. You spend hours in a hammock listening to the jungle opera or the waves steadily flowing in and out matching your inhale and exhale. Reading books, meditating, moving on your mat, eating fresh foods and sharing your experiences with friends you have just met. But with this slow pace comes the active mind. Accustomed to full time activity, thoughts can seem louder than ever before. Now, in this amazing environment you have the opportunity to watch and learn; to go deeper, perhaps discover some of your patterns. You begin to decipher between the voice of your head and the voice of your heart.


Eventually it is time to return home. The realization occurs that you were there all along…home in your heart. You take lessons and experiences with you, back to work, back to the routine of daily life. Perhaps now, surrounded and part of this abundant world, the slowing down, the breathing, listening, feeling comes a little easier, a little lighter. Costa Rica, not just a sweet memory, it is an integral piece of your soul.


I encourage you to retreat! Whether it is getting on a plane to a tropical place, driving to a cabin in the woods, or finding a quiet place to sit in your neighborhood, treat yourself. Slow down. Listen. Breathe. Feel.

Connect to your heart.

Treat your heart.

 

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Dana Rivkin has a passion for the outdoors, travel, breath, personal discovery and community. She shares these loves through teaching yoga classes, outdoor education and adventure guiding. Dana believes yoga is a life long practice on and off the mat. Join her for an amazing retreat in Costa Rica this February 2016!

http://www.yogafarmcostarica.org/yoga-retreat-with-dana-rivkin/

 

 

 

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Inspiring Takeaways from Life Changing Yoga Retreats

A more graceful chaturanga. A stronger Warrior II. Some new friends. I knew I’d probably gain these things, and a few more, from yoga retreats—but what I didn’t anticipate was the ways that the retreats would change my life deeply, spiritually, and completely.

I don’t have to “do it right”: the intention is to feel better and nourish my body.

I still remember the moment that my teacher brought up the possibility that my pose could look different from someone else’s, and that both could be right. I’d spent so much of my yoga journey focusing on making my pose look just like my teacher, that anything else seemed downright rebellious. But, sitting gracefully in front of the hall, she reminded us that the intention of our practice is to listen to the body, and to offer the asanas as medicine.

Apply that more globally to life, and it becomes the ultimate permission to live life in the most nourishing way possible: my way.

Slow is powerful, subtlety is everything, and I am stronger than I thought.

I came to yoga as an 18-year-old runner, so I “did” yoga like I “did” running: fast, hard, and aggressive. Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down, but my retreat showed me a style of practice that I never imagined. I found out that in slowness, there is strength. And, accordingly, I am way, way stronger than I think—when I slow down and allow myself to be so.

The body is a beautiful and wise creature, and I must treat her with respect.

Pushing gets me nowhere except injured and in pain. I once came to my yoga practice in a struggle with my body. Why wouldn’t it fold forward effortlessly, like that person can? But a yoga retreat taught me that by respecting, nourishing, and inviting my body to unfold, the unfolding would happen with less effort and more grace.

Nobody is thinking about what I’m doing- they’re too involved wondering what I’m thinking of them.

In a room of 24 other yogis, there was always someone whose pose looked better than mine. Who would look like they were holding a balance pose effortlessly while I shook and struggled. In private conversations during the retreat, we would sometimes get close and share what we were really feeling during the class.

Turns out? We all have insecurities—in abundance. We’re wasting our energy wondering what other yogis are thinking about us. If I focus on my own journey, on and off the mat, then I’ll be all set.

When the going gets tough, the yogis watch the hard stuff with love.

I remember holding Goddess Pose for what seemed like an eternity. My arms and torso were moving, my thighs were screaming, and my mind couldn’t stop thinking about what seemed like agony. All that is truly happening is a burning sensation, and it’s only that: sensation. Become the witness, the observer, and I’ll no longer be swept up in the storm of suffering.

Beyond the shaking of my tired legs, this detachment has become a jewel that I carry with me. Most of the time, the suffering is all in how my mind decides to perceive the events at hand—nothing more.

 

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Kai Woolner-Pratt is the content editor at Retreat Guru. He practices Ashtanga yoga, is grateful to his teachers, and counts himself lucky to have been in so many retreats. His home is Nelson, BC, Canada.

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