While I was in California last month I spent a day in the Redwoods on a yoga retreat. No cell access. No phone access. Just peace and bliss with a group of wonderful people. The retreat was led by Tessa Manning, one of the teachers I work with when I go to Northern California. Tessa has been a true gift to my practice. Her compassion and thoughtful teaching have allowed me to do poses I thought I could not do.
I signed up for the retreat when it was posted on Facebook. I didn’t really think about it much until closer to the trip. Then I became nervous. What if I couldn’t do it? It was an entire day with two long classes and other activities. I hadn’t been going to classes and my practice had slowed down due to illness and injury in the spring. (See, even teachers get nervous.) I wrote Tessa and said I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it because my back had been giving me problems. She wrote back and said I would be fine. Still, I was nervous. Then I decided that I could always leave if I was really miserable. That has been the way I have looked at retreats for years. I have never left a retreat though because there is always something magic that happens and the experiences are always worth it.
This retreat was no different. GPS is not your friend in Northern California so the first indication that it would be a great day was when I was wandering down a road in the woods wondering if I had gone the wrong way. I pulled off to the side to try to get a signal on my phone, another near impossible thing in the woods, when another car pulled up beside me and asked if I was going to the retreat. I followed him onto a long road into the woods.
This was a wonderful way to begin my trip. There were seasoned yogis as well as a few who were brand new to the practice. The setting was beautiful. There was a sweet little studio that was apart from the house, a tepee, redwoods, and fantastic conversations.
The lesson I walked away with echoed my teacher Melissa Scott’s mantra: “You are stronger than you think you are.” Through the thoughtful and careful sequencing that Tessa provided, I was able to do a modified Hanumanasana, or splits. I wasn’t 100% in the pose but I was much, much farther than I ever imagined I could ever be. I was pretty amazed. We also spent some time on vision boards and then wrapped up the day with a wonderful restorative class.
Going into the unknown is always a risk. Even when the territory is familiar, there are things that pop up that we don’t expect. Taking the risk to go on the retreat, to let go of expectations about my practice, and just let the day unfold provided an experience that I will carry with me into the future and in my practice and teaching.
What risk have you taken? What did you learn?