Participants fill out an information sheet before joining on a Revealing Vajra yoga retreat. I ask about the emergency contact, possible dietary issues, yogic experiences, stress levels, etc.
One of my questions probes on the expectations for the adventure that they are about to embark on.
To my surprise, people hardly jot down anything about ‘yoga’. Curiously enough, these people enrolled in something called a ‘yoga’ holiday or a yoga retreat, with at least 2 hours of ‘yoga’ postures, every single day and do not mention ‘yoga’.
Some of the answers on the question: What are you expectations for this yoga retreat?
- Rest without anxiety.
- Time to read.
- Get a break from work without alcohol and stress.
- Letting go of all that doesn’t serve me.
- Become more focused and more confident.
- Be inspired.
- I’m exhausted, I just want to sleep.
- Feel connection again.
- To chill and escape.
- Feel fit.
- Enjoy being away.
- Calm down.
- To go home with a more positive mindset.
- Learn about meditation.
- Learn about breathing.
- Time for myself.
- Get back on track with my diet, yoga, meditation, life.
- Peace in my mind.
- Find balance.
- Be in the now.
- Do some yoga.
- Healthier lifestyle.
Hardly anything about yoga postures!
When I probe specifically on yoga postures and meditation, I do get the following answers: “I want to learn headstand, improve my chaturanga, do crow and get into a daily meditation practice.”
I see people coming to my retreats being completely exhausted, anxious, stressed out, leaning towards depression or a complete burn out.
Most of them have fast paced lives in big cities and follow fast paced classes.
A yoga retreat somewhere nice and exotic seems to be the perfect place to unwind.
And it is!
Because a yoga retreat is so much more than doing a bit of yoga in a nice location. The yoga itself, for lots of people almost seems to be an extra.
Which fits the definition of yoga, according to Patanjali, which explains yoga and its practice at the same time, perfectly.
If yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind, than we need to be able to relax and to open our minds and hearts first. By resting, by chilling, by doing as little as possible and by doing yoga postures, we get a glimpse of what goes on in our minds.
To be able to observe the mind, we need to create some space for the stilling to happen. Hence, why I have a full day of silence in the beginning of most retreat weeks. Silence as a resting mode in order for us to find more ease, stillness and clarity.
Therefor, it is perfectly fine to skip a class on a yoga retreat and just sleep for 10 hours, or more. Or, to sit in the sun and read a book. To have wonderful conversations with like minded people. Anything goes as long as you start to relax.
My yoga retreats are truly transformational when people allow things to happen. When you choose to not be busy the whole time. When you consciously practice in letting go.
Doing it Correctly, the Art of Alignment
Consequently, doing the postures correctly is usually the least of my concern when I see all the stressed faces in the beginning of a yoga retreat week.
People used to fast pace vinyasa classes and Iyengar yoga almost immediately go in resist mode because I keep saying that It’s all good, whatever you do.
I could see the most crooked posture ever and I will still say: This is Perfect as it is. – Of course, if I see someone doing something potentially harmful, I will go over and suggest something else to do.
Why do I hardly correct on the first days?
Because there’s not too much point in doing so!
This would only create another desire and craving to do it ‘correctly’.
“To become better at yoga”, in a way, this sentence doesn’t make any sense at all. I would just add (un)conscious and for sure un needed stress to have yet another aim and goal in an over-goaled and pressured life.
I do have an alignment class, and I do walk around towards the end of the week to correct, and we will go over most of the known postures. There’s even specific deep dive retreats where I zoom into postures a lot more but on most yoga holidays, my main concern is for everyone to have a safe practice, during the week and in all future classes.
Alignment as such with all the funky little cues we learn from people who know best can be a bit of a joke for some people anyway. So many people got injured in daily life by a car accident, sports or by their work. I have had people with missing limbs in class, with 50 kg of excess weight, I mean, let’s not go overboard with alignment. Every single body is different and we sure don’t have the same life style and upbringing these days as most of the yogis that wrote our holy yogic books.
The Best Yogi in Class
Once we’re in class, there’s usually such a craving and desire to do the postures correctly. To learn, to become better, mostly physically. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But then again, who’s the best yogi in class? (If that’s even a question to ask…)
For me, in this day and age, that is the person with a smile in her or his heart and face. The one being completely content with what is and the one who is without fear and anxiety. Someone who is compassionate and kind to him or herself, during the entire class (and preferably beyond class).
Above all, I want my retreats for people to rejuvenate, be themselves and chill.
For any-body and every-body to be able to join.
To feel Joy in a yoga class, to be inspired and to start relaxing. In order for all these magical things and expectations to start happening, almost automatically.
Revealing the Diamond Within
“Revealing the Diamond within.”
6 years ago, it came to me very spontaneously on a deserted beach in Bali and to this day; I believe that I couldn’t have chosen a better slogan for my company.
Marketing wise, a very debatable name but I strongly believe in the meaning.
As, you don’t need to change anything about yourself as everything is already there.
We have the peace of mind that we’re looking for inside of us. We can be more confident, more focused and mindful. It is all there already.
Our natural condition of the mind is a peaceful state.
Your massive big diamond is right there, within. It just needs some polishing. And by retreating in the right way, it will start shining again, no doubt about that.
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