Almost a year ago I decided that I wanted to start living bigger. I had confined my life to everything that was safe and rarely took any risks or jumped outside my comfort zone - let alone my apartment.
So after a rather exciting turn of the seasons watching my Mom recover from a broken hip, I decided I had to stop limiting my life. I was going to say a resounding YES to things that scared the shit out of me.
One of those scary things was to plan my first yoga retreat. I was terrified. I had all these visions of these amazing teachers I looked up to hosting their sold out retreats, guiding students through their practice and kicking ass. I definitely did not see myself in that way.
But as I sat on my parents couch watching a rerun of Fixer Upper, I made the decision that the worst thing that could happen was that no one would sign up and I would be left with wounded pride. The risk of wounded pride is a ridiculous reason to not go for anything, so I planned and launched my first yoga retreat.
I was terrified, unsure and felt like I was going to puke - which is a great signal when figuring out what scares the shit out of you (if you were wondering how to measure that).
All that energy spent being scared and worried and I not only reached my goal of 10 attendees for the adventure but that retreat ended up markedly changing my life as a teacher, as a human being and as a participant of this planet. It’s been over six months after returning home and I’m still processing the wonderful magic that was that trip.
In that spirit - if you’ve never been on a yoga retreat here are things I learned:
1. The people you meet will become something like family - in as little as days.
The group of people that arrived at the Tailwind Jungle Lodge - some knew each other - some didn’t - some only knew each other as acquaintances - all quickly became framily (my term for friends who are like family-feel free to use this phrase). We arrived on Sunday and by Tuesday afternoon I’d say the comfort level of the attendees was beyond what you are with your “friends” from work and much closer to resembling the comfort level you have with your college roommate.
2. This vacation includes the mindset shift of making yourself a better human being.
I know in the past when I have gone on vacation it was to “get away”, to rest and probably experience something new like or not experience much at all, like sitting at the pool all day and drinking fruity drinks from the swim up bar. Which is cool, don’t get me wrong. But a retreat has a built in mindfulness aspect that is constantly nudging you to look inward, to experience the environment, the people, the happenings around you and to really examine your joys, your ego, your self care, what lights you up and ignites your passion. To come back from a vacation feeling more energized and on fire about life in general is a win-win.
3. Holy Growth
Personal growth, heart growth, yoga practice growth, stamina on stair walking growth, growth in gratitude and on and on. You truly get what you give into an experience like a retreat. Come ready to be open, make new friends, to journal, to spend time together, to spend time solo and possibly to realize that hiking in a million degrees is totally worth it when you reach a private beach. Going outside of your comfort zone into someplace new with an open mind and open heart is bound to break down walls and expand your world. Get on the growth train - that’s what this life is about.
4. You don’t gain vacation weight - except maybe muscle.
Obviously yoga is built in to this vacation - as are excursions like hiking and snorkeling. Though you aren’t required to do anything or everything, it’s generally part of why you came, so while you’re eating super delicious and healthy foods (and maybe having plenty of tequila) you are also working out consistently and mindfully. You totally can sit by the pool and drink all day but you probably won’t want to miss a sunset hike. That makes for a body feeling good to fit your positive retreat loving mindset and not throw you off of any health or fitness goals you may have.
5. Discovering or Rediscovering What You Love About YOURSELF
I can’t speak for everyone on this point, but I can speak for myself. When you are away from your day to day, in a beautiful setting, eating healthy and delicious food, doing yoga and being mindful every step of the way, you discover new things about yourself. Like - going to sleep with nothing but the sound of the breeze is peaceful - who needs a rerun of Friends to fall asleep to? (sometimes I do). Or, leaving your phone and not having the distraction as an option opens up your entire world to what IS at the moment. Or, your passion in life may be totally different than what you studied or trained to do. It is a deep dive into your heart and into your soul discovering more about yourself than you might have ever before.
This is a list of my observations, my experiences and are totally biased of course. But, I’m a believer if you feel an inkling in your heart to try it, to go for it, whatever it may be - you should do it. Especially if it scares the shit out you.
******By the by....I'm hosting another retreat in Mexico this February if the mood strikes you to check it out....I have three rooms available and roommate opportunities (message me with questions here!) You can check out details on that retreat at www.yogaretreats.co/jesseshroyer