Well, I sure dream of the day I can use this title…at least in the context I think you’re reading it to be;) Or perhaps even just to attend one, WOW! that would be awesome! Mouthwatering destinations amongst awe-inspiring people immersing themselves deep into the lifelong practice we all love. SIGN ME UP! But for now, this title really is more along the lines of Alisha Rella’s Yoga Retreat, if you will;)
Being away from your normal routine with family can truly be a retreat like no other. Vacation is a time to recharge, reconnect, & relish every minute. With a young family, it’s one of those scenarios where if one goes on holiday, we ALL go on holiday, right?!?! And for me, most of these holidays have us piling in the car, heading into B.C. & then over to & down the West Coast of the U.S. Truly a journey for the senses…it’s easy to see why people from all over the world trace this path. But what does it have from a cultural standpoint or spiritual awakening? It can’t be too different from home, can it? Don’t I have to go half way around the world for this?
Culture can truly be a local experience. A recurring theme I’ve noticed is how yoga can both mirror & be a gateway into a community’s lifestyle. Take for instance Yoga Shine in Mendocino, CA (http://yogashinemendocino.com), one of my FAV studios along the west coast. A hot class offered in the main level of an old historical house taught by an easy breezy surfer babe who lived upstairs. She treated all of the practitioners like family & her classes reflected the same, a feeling of literally being right at home. To add to this incredible sense of community, a women practicing beside me (whom I had never met) gave me the bracelet she was wearing…she felt it was meant for me 🙏 I mean, how awesome is that?! To walk out of the studio & truly immerse myself into the laid back vibe of this idyllic beach town was a natural next step…
But then a few days later & 4 hours down the coast, I found myself in total culture shock. The streets of San Francisco were filled with a chaotic buzz & disarray. A totally different energy & one at the extreme to Mendo. But isn’t this the place where everyone raves about yoga? I needed some…FAST!
I remember running through the city streets, late and confused where the studio (http://satoriyogastudio.com) was. The address sent me to a building which was a mix of apartments & businesses. Almost terrified, I entered & was buzzed up to the 2nd floor. Still confused about the whole process, I walked through a small, tight hallway where I entered a glass door to the studio which had a small sign-in desk, 2 practice rooms on each side, no change rooms (just a few areas with a curtain), 1 small bathroom & a massive line-up to go along with it. There was even glass so you could watch the practitioners. Wow!! was I uncomfortable. So foreign! Get me back up the coast! But little did I know this was the beginning of what was to be the best practice of my life.
I had to quickly remind myself to keep an open & curious mind. By the time I navigated the lines & entered the practice room (it was PACKED!), one of the only spots left was, you guessed it, front row & centre;), not my traditional first new studio timer cozy corner at the back of the room (not goin’ lie;). The instructor then walked in on crutches. She had recently been in a bike accident but advised we would proceed as per usual, & so the practice began. What started in perceived disarray soon opened to floor to ceiling windows overlooking downtown, topped with a cathedral style ceiling right out of ancient Europe. It then hit me that this was the most elegant practice room I’d ever been in! And then almost without consciously realizing it at the time, I was being led by instruction at its absolute finest, a truly mind blowing experience! I remember the practice being centred around backbends & the sequencing was pure perfection. I felt stronger than I ever had before & the insecurity of those behind the glass wall looking in began to fade. There was no music. Only breath. Fellow practitioners were so light on their feet, if you couldn’t see, you’d think there was a breathing exercise happening in that room. I remember laying down in savasana & being mesmerized by this beautiful cathedral like ceiling. I couldn’t close my eyes. I didn’t want to. I wanted to visually connect with every piece of this space for as long as I could. The unsettling start had been replaced by something so pure…in that very moment, I felt gracefully connected to a practice much bigger than myself.
Now outside, what a contrast to what I had perceived as chaos. This really was finely tuned, organized chaos in perfect sync, just like the very practice I experienced inside…a place combining many cultures in a city that has risen from so much adversity & embraced so much diversity. This class truly was a microcosm of this incredible city. It was beautiful.
Laid back coastal or big city happenings, yoga truly is the gateway to immersing & experiencing it all…yes, a retreat like no other.