Two weekends ago, I attended my first yoga retreat, led by Austin teachers Jenn Wooten and Angie Knight. They host this women’s renewal retreat twice a year, so I’ve had it on my radar for quite a few years and finally made it happen!
Since transitioning to my new normal (stay-at-home mom during the day, yoga teacher by night/weekend) and processing the death of my father, I haven’t had more than brief moments of time to myself. I’m either in mom mode, chef mode, housekeeping mode, wife mode, chauffeur mode, yoga teacher mode or brain-mush mode. Being away in the Hill Country with two of my favorite yoga teachers and a sangha of supportive women sounded exactly like what my heart needed, even for a quick weekend.
I went in knowing nobody except for the teachers, but I wanted to make sure I was open to all experiences. I offered a ride to another woman who had been attending this retreat for years, which made the drive out to the Lotus Ranch in Wimberley an easy 30 minutes. I also picked a room to bunk with three other ladies (it was Elvis themed!) to get as far out of my comfort zone as possible.
Since this was my first ever retreat, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew we would be doing yoga, and knowing Jenn and Angie, I expected we would be going deep in self-exploration and uncovering some raw ground. [Deep exhale.] Raw ground, indeed.
A big overarching theme we discussed was shedding layers. These could be labels that we give ourselves or labels others have given us. These could be layers we create to protect ourselves from getting emotionally hurt. These could be attachments we have to our identity that we hold on to for fear of not knowing who we really are. We hold on to all of these different types of layers for dear life, and yet, they are the cause of much of our suffering.
When we start to peel off the layers, it can be painful. I don’t have to be the do-it-all, be-it-all, have-it-all working mom. I don’t have to put on a brave face and hide my tears when something reminds me of my dad for the sake of saving someone else from feeling awkward. I don’t have to have my sh*t together. In order to find the real me under all of the external crap that society expects, I have to allow myself to get rid of what doesn’t serve me. It’s messy. It’s almost like I’m KonMari-ing my soul. 😉
In the middle of that Saturday, we had an hour of silence to do whatever we wanted – except talk. One woman read a book in the jacuzzi. One woman found a tree in the woods and embraced it. A few women napped in the warmth of the open sky as clouds drifted by. I took my camera and a mug of hot tea for my hike and found little bits of nature that excited me.
I haven’t had that kind of silence in a long while. And actually, for the last 5 months, when I’m alone and quiet with my own thoughts, I’m usually thinking of my dad and in a puddle of my own tears. But that day, for that hour, I thought about how he loved taking pictures, and it brought me a lot of joy.
In addition to the asana practices, they had yoga nidra (supervised nap… ha!) and an ecstatic dance party, where pretty much anything goes. I don’t know why I felt inspired to start traipsing around like a gorilla or clucking like a chicken, but it was very reminiscent of a junior high dance where you start doing ridiculous things such as starting a lawn mower and grocery shopping. (Those are real dance moves, right? Haha.)
The food, by the way, was fantastic. They were all vegetarian meals, and I was stuffed. This was a coconut broccoli curry over jasmine rice and a bed of lettuce.
Hot tea, healthy meals, quiet time, nature, amazing new friends, loving teachers, laughter, sharing, meditation, open hearts, warm hugs, judgment-free tears, support, being seen, holding space, having space held for us, naps, yoga, yoga, yoga… and Pocket Jamie. I loved it all.