My first yoga retreat

I returned a few hours ago from my first ever yoga retreat. It was with my awesome Ashtanga teacher, another instructor, and 15 other students. 4 of them were students I practice regularly with and a couple others I knew from a few classes.

I drove there and back (as a passenger) with two women I practice with once or twice a week, and have for the past year or so. The drive flew by as we shared stories and got to know more about our non-yoga lives. They are both just super and I really enjoyed spending this time with them.

We had to take a ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island. It was my first time on a ferry that carries cars…pretty neat!

The retreat spot, Shanti, was just lovely. Clean and homey and such a pretty space. Check out these sunset views:


The first day we got settled, then did a 1.5 hour Vinyasa practice with Sandy. The yurt was super hot…I was very, very sweaty however despite that it was a great class. My first time practicing with Sandy but I hope to have many more opportunities to do so because she is truly lovely and and excellent teacher!

Then after a shower we had an amazing meal. I had requested wheat free meals and was so pleased with the results. Although I have been wheat-free most of the last 14 months, I have taken no effort to find wheat free alternatives to noodles, bread and other baked goods…beyond the obvious (rice noodles in Asian restaurants, no wheat PB cookies). Dinner number 1 was gluten free noodles, cabbage, tofu and salad with peanuts and a peanut sauce. Truly divine.

After dinner we just sat around…until almost midnight. We talked about a lot of stuff…but it always came back to yoga talk! I found it interesting that even when we were relaxing, the majority if us were doing something…ummm…yogic! Many of us were on the floor in lotus or half lotus, or seated twists. One women was chilling in pigeon while chatting. Another in heron. There were some random handstand moments. It was…neat! I personally am often doing this at home while watching TV or reading…consciously or subconsciously working on all the little tight spots in my practice. By the end of the evening 4 of us were left…trying our damnedest (and failing) to do mayurasana on a hardwood floor!

Eventually we made it to bed. I had a hard time sleeping the first night. I was sharing a room with a yoga friend I’ve practiced with for over a year (one of the girls from my drive…so I know her well…but still). It felt like a first date. I was so worried about farting, snoring, what I would do if I had to poo (would she hear me?), whether or not I should flush in the middle if the night if I just pee…that I was up into at least 1am. I awoke at 3am sweating like a dog. My internal dialogue was “fuck I’m hot. I want to take my pants off. I’m just wearing a thong. If S wakes up and sees me just in a thong that will be weird, wont it? Dammit”. Of course, I could have just grabbed some shorts but…it was 3am and I was discombobulated from the unfamiliar sleeping arrangement. Eventually I fell back asleep…but we were both up by 5:30am. I enjoyed some coffee and a banana and was ready for my first Ashtanga class at 8am (ish!!)

It was a full led primary series class. That’s always a bit hard for me these days, because I don’t do it these days. I have not done it since December or so, when the unit closed and Mysore moved to Moksha. I always practice Mysore Ashtanga at Moksha.  I do not get to the end of the primary series. So when I do it, find it tough, as there are a few extra poses that tire me out. Also, there are some poses I can do in Mysore but cannot do in the led primary, because it takes me more breaths than the five in a led class to get to the expression of the pose I am aiming for. Not being able to do some poses that I’m used to being able to do was a bit demoralizing. Obviously, I understood why it was, but it still felt bad. At the same time, the class felt very good to me. There were a lot of students that had a lot of different levels of practice. Some could do things I could not do, some I could do things they could not do. I know I’m not supposed to compare myself to others, but it’s hard for me not to. I’ve been struggling a bit (lot) with that in Mysore… a story for another post…but I will just say it was nice to be in a (Ashtanga, in other classes I can certainly hold my own. Though it is decidedly un-yogic of me to notice) practice again where I was not the only one unable to do things like bind Mary d or Supta Kurmasana!

When we finished our practice, I discovered that there was another 45 minutes until brunch. I had been planning to go for short run after brunch, but decided to take advantage of that time instead. Another member of our group joined, she is a much more hard-core runner than me (she’s ran marathons. Psycho!!!), and had already been out to run early in the morning…but she was happy to accompany me. We did 2 miles. I actually did it faster than usual, about nine minutes a mile. That said, I did feel sick in the middle and have to stop and walk a little. That’s okay though. Obviously going for a run after 1.5 hours of intense yoga, five hours of broken sleep, and one banana, was not my best idea ever! It was still good to get out there and feel the cool breeze and enjoy the beautiful landscape.

I had gluten free toast for brunch…super yum…with peanut butter. Also quinoa with brown sugar, cinnamon and apples (so much yummier than I imagined it could be) and yogurt with berries and granola.

We chilled all afternoon, and I enjoyed a little bit of time in the sauna at 2:30. Again, I was with my roommate, and enjoyed continuing to get to know each other better. At 5 we did a restorative class. I’m usually not into restorative…but it was perfect for the space I was in (tired and achy).

Dinner was lentil soup, savoury quinoa, salad with goat cheese (yum!) and hummus with Mary crackers for me. A delicious fruit crumble for dessert.

Again we settled in for some chill time after dinner. Myself and a few others chatted until after midnight. We may not have strictly followed the no substances rule. Maybe. We probably did though. Regardless…it was nice to stay up late chatting, and once again most of the talk was yoga which I found interesting (really, how much can we talk about yoga? A lot evidently!)

It went something like this:

-OMG. Did you see V get into supta k by herself today? It was amazing

-She has a gorgeous practice.

-Ugh. I cannot even touch my fingers yet.

-At so and so yoga studio, this guy was farting all the time. So loud, he really didn’t care at all.

-That’s normal. Whatever. It happens.

-It’s gross he could at least try not to

-But then you tense up and it ruins practice.

-Sometimes the fart just goes back up if you try to keep it in.

-Where does it go?

-It disperses inside, or something.

-So the other day this guy kept pressing up into handstands in the middle of practice. Totally out of sequence. So obnoxious.

-I cannot even do a handstand. I suck

-You don’t suck. You’re awesome. Your hips are so open!!

-I use a wall. I barely tap it but I need it there.

Etc…etc…etc…(not the actual conversation, just snippets from the weekend). We can, and did, talk like this. For hours!

We went to sleep around midnight, and I woke with a brutal (un-substance related, it had been coming for days) headache. I also woke at 7:15am…too late to eat before an 8 am practice. I was over my roommate issues and did my…business…with her in the room (but on the other side of the closed door, obviously) instead of waiting for private time like I had the previous day!

I chugged half a mug of coffee and headed out for another round of torture full primary. As you can imagine, it was not my best practice ever! I stepped instead of jumped at least half of my vinyasas , and I also only did 2 urdvas (a pose I despise) instead of three, doing bridge for the last, and skipped the chakrasanas. I still enjoyed it though, and came out of it feeling a bit better than I had gone in.

Shower, brunch (gluten free pancakes-yum, cheese, fruit, yogurt with granola), home. The drive home was good…but a bit emotional. I was tired and headachy…and I’m having some struggles with my commitment to Ashtanga these days. Another post…probably….

Anyways…there ya go…a chronicle of my first ever yoga retreat. In spite of some iffy moments, too cool to swim weather, and the fact that it was more exhausting than relaxing… I had a really good time! I liked all the people I met, loved the yoga (even when it was rough) and am very glad I went.

Adam and the kids had a good weekend, and made lasagna (with zucchini instead of noodles for me) for dinner tonight. In my vulnerable state, I freaked out that they got full fat cheese (Adam knows I always use reduced far for myself) but still enjoyed a dinner not cooked by me!


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