Tuesday 4 October 2011

2011 Fall Harvest Retreat

This yoga retreat made top 5 experiences of my life!!!!
When I approached Alex Altheron to help me plant the seeds to one day lead a yoga retreat, I as thinking 5 years down the road. Little did I know he came prepared with a business proposal and a manifestation strength to be reckoned with.
5 months after this, we'd find ourselves on a ferry leading 15 people to Stowel Lake Farms, on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Now here I am, two days after our magical weekend and I'm still pinching myself. I'm so grateful for Alex's faith in me, and for the special individuals who decided to nurture not only themselves for the 48 hrs, but my dream as well!
Arriving on the 125+ acre farm set the majestic theme which was continuous. The long lane way opened up to 3 beautiful barn like structures, yurts, ponds surrounded by a detailed gardens, numerous greenhouses, and lots and lots of green, wide open space. The land put our city energy to rest and let our imaginations run wild. I personally had feelings of being Anne of Green Gables as I walked amongst the apple trees. In the kitchen (see above) I was taken away to an Old English Country home in the 1800s. It was fun for all of us to play the "could I live here?" game. For Diana, I doubt she could think this far into the future as she was basking in each minute's discovery; this was her first time on a farm EVER!!!!
We all learned a lot about farming, as each meal was organic and grown on location... something you don't get everyday. The food was outstanding and our bodies thanked us. I've never felt so light, healthy and cleansed after a HUGE, HEAPING plate of seconds:) Alex and I had never been to Stowel Lake Farms before, and some thought we were nuts for trusting that the food would be good. Food can really make or break a trip! Horseshoes up our ass on that one !!!! How professional:)
Although way better food than Camp Tawingo's, the farm did remind me of summer camp. The whole experience did, right down to the labeled mugs and moccasins. It was the way 17 complete strangers came together free of ego, and free of awkward, surface conversations. Unusual surroundings and events bring this on. I was so amazed at how much effort everyone put into getting to know each person individually. We all were so different, such characters, ranging in age and backgrounds, yet I felt no judgement or categorizing. Sometimes it takes stepping out of the daily grind to re-connect to the Sri, or innate goodness and beauty that is naturally in us all.
After extraordinary experiences like these, traveling included, the toughest part is to bring it back to your "regular life". How long can you make the high last? How can you integrate the potion into your life, and make sure it lasts? Will you recognize when it runs out, and will you take the time to replenish yourself again?
This notion of nurturing your highest self, was completely new to one of our guests. She'd done just a few classes of yoga before, but something inside told her she needed this trip. After our first class on Friday night, she pulled me aside. She explained that after savasana, she sat up for meditation and felt an overwhelming rush of emotion. Following the class she went into her room and bawled. Expressing that she wasn't particularly troubled by anything, she wondered what had gotten over her. Yoga got into her! Hearing this reaffirmed my love for this practice.
Yoga has a way of clearing away your ignorance of your Divine Self. You sweat, move, and breath more then usual which often digs up stuffed emotions, memories, relationships, etc. Its like peeling off a tough layer, layers that often muscle us through our days.
Recently I read an excerpt from the book "Jivamukti", which describes this exact thing:

The intention underlying all our practices must be clear. The motivation under the yoga practices must be Yoga- union with the Divine Self. For any practice to be a yoga practice one must consciously and continuously cultivate a desire for self-realization.

There were many special moments of laughter, tears, debates, and even moments of silence. The fact that we could reach this place in a weekend can be accredited to our pure surroundings, the openness of it's owners, and the safety net that was naturally built by our gracious group.
I think the biggest lesson I learned from this experience was to never say no to yourself and the visions you have for your life. Each one of us heard a little voice to nurture and feed our spirits. We took a risk, we ignored our logic and found trust. AND I'M SO GLAD WE DID!!!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next retreat, and until then keep feeding your souls, keep sharing your essence.

Namaste All The Way,
Emily xo