It was infertility that first attracted me to yoga many years ago. A flyer in my doctor’s office promoted a class for people struggling to get pregnant. I would have tried just about anything back then so I timidly showed up to the home-like studio with nothing but a brand new mat and worries about the myriad problems keeping me from conceiving. It was gentle and peaceful and I felt better for going but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to help me get pregnant so I stopped going after a few sessions. I eventually became pregnant and he’s about to turn thirteen! It wasn’t easy but that’s a story for another day.
A few years ago I noticed my gym offered yoga classes on Saturday mornings and I was in the right frame of mind to give it another go. Stress, overwhelm, anxiety and worry were prominent in my life and I needed a way to deal with them. A way to escape them for at least an hour. Yoga for beginners. I have been attending with this same teacher on and off for these past years, following her instructions without actually allowing the terminology to sink into my brain. How could I not be picking up more after all these sessions? I was feeling intimidated about attending a yoga retreat for fear of being caught out for the beginner I still was.
It simply didn’t matter. Yoga is yoga and it’s an individual practice. I do not strive to one day teach it or even seek to understand why it makes me happy. It just does. I was ready to open myself up to new experiences and I went to Amorgos, Greece to do just that. Throughout the week there would be meditation, breathing, journaling, poses, blessing cards, mantras, affirmations, touch massage and laughter. There was an abundance of laughter.
The 90 plus minute classes were a stretch for me. I had never worked so hard at poses in my life and sometimes I just wanted to lie there and pray for the class to end so we could eat. It’s just that I was not used to this kind of intense practice but I pushed myself to do everything even if I looked silly trying. I was grateful when the shavasana (corpse) pose was announced so I could stretch out my body and relax.
Each day we started with a question. Questions that would push our boundaries and encourage us to work out things that may have been long buried without resolution. Questions to get at the very core of who we were and this is not easy stuff, at least for me, but I can hear our instructor Julie’s encouraging words like observe, be open, look inside, recognize. She told us we are here for a higher purpose. We are here for the service of others. Everything echoed other experiences in my life. By Friday, at the closing ceremony, tears flowed and it was as if a renewal had taken place. I was lighter and more hopeful than I had been in months. Someone else described the retreat as a reset and that’s exactly how it felt.
There is much more to say about the retreat but the words to describe it are hard, so I’ll leave it on a fun note by telling you about some cool things we did like flying and folding, leaning in and floating on air. There were harnesses to practice hard poses which we all found pretty cool. Floating and hanging upside down on the yoga hammock was a great experience. I was doing things with my body it wouldn’t normally be able to do.
Here are some words to sum up the week of our retreat: inspiring, awesome, freeing, beautiful, fun, motivating, growth, reset, happy, emotional, moving, celebratory, release, peaceful, clarity, joy, cathartic, educational, creative, gratitude, blessed, enlightening, adventurous, accepting, sensory, open, sharing, and love. Always love.
More about Greece: