Yoga changed me. Not dramatically. Not quickly. Not even overtly. Slowly, one step, one pose, one quiet moment at time it changed me.
Practicing yoga regularly. Experiencing the growth of teacher training. All that has had an impact. But, being at two yoga events this summer really put a fine point on what’s different.
First it was a yoga retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in the mountains of Oregon, with my daughter and I accompanying my lovely bride as she finished her own yoga teacher training. Now it has been at Wanderlust Whistler, vacationing with my wife at the far Northwest stop of the splendid yoga-centric festival series with a cool name.
I could yap abstractly about how yoga has changed me, instead saying what I’ve done at these two places might say more.
- I totally disconnected for a five night trip. No cell coverage. No wifi. No work email. No social media. No nothing. Leaving me there, and in the moment.
- I did a lot of yoga, in classes taught by some great teachers, with some cool fellow yogis, in a place with a great vibe.
- I soaked in natural hot springs. A lot. Usually nude thanks to the clothing optional vibe at the bathing areas.
- I read by a rolling river. Without interruption.
- I hung out with my people.
- I saw deer that lingered near me from just feet away.
- I went on a killer, 7.5 mile round trip hike, up a mountain…and didn’t see a single human being after the first half mile. Think about that for a minute if you’ve ever been hiking anywhere near a major population area. Hours of hiking. Spectacular scenery. Glorious mountain-top views. Not a soul. Fucking fabulous.
- I just was. I had time to think. Time to reflect. Time to be grateful. Without anyone or anything else in life intruding.
- I visited a place in Whistler, BC that is so hopelessly beautiful that I have trouble describing it…and wonder why the hell I’ve never been here before since I was born, raised, and live in the Seattle area.
- I did a lot of yoga. Some I loved. Some I didn’t. You don’t love every yoga teacher you encounter. That’s ok. I definitely explored the full spectrum of that here.
- I came away 100% more confident in being a yoga teacher, even though I’ve only taught two classes thus far. Why? Being a yoga teacher, just like practicing yoga, isn’t a formula. It’s about letting your authentic self emerge, evolve, and grow in the process…all while staying humble and not taking yourself too seriously. The best teaching I encountered did just that, whether they were teaching to 40 students or 400.
- I took my first acro yoga class, at the top of Whistler Mountain. What’s acro yoga? Think circus gymnasts, then you’re starting to get the idea. I took a leap of faith, did things I’ve never done before, with cool people I’ve never met,all with a spectacular view.Yeah, that was good.
- I took my favorite yoga class ever. It was the first class, the first morning of the festival. It wasn’t a huge class. It wasn’t taught by a big yoga celebrity (yeah, they’re a thing…and a mixed bag at that). It was just a cool, authentic young teacher, with a great story and a splendid ability to channel that into her class in a way that brought the eight limbs of yoga (only one of which is the physical practice, or “asana”) to life in 90 minutes.
- I enjoyed some splendid live music, surrounded by lots of other happy people doing the same.
- I was around people with the most fabulous energy. Let’s get real: Wanderlust is a yoga festival. There’s a major hippie vibe. That doesn’t work for some people. That’s cool. But, I’ve never encountered such a high concentration of people with just fantastic energy. They’re vibrating at a good frequency. Sometimes you can feel it collectively. Sometimes it you feel it — even with a jolt — when you meet or are near someone in particular. Yeah, it’s that strong. That might sound crazy. If so, read a little about energy vibration and frequency and you’ll start to grasp what I mean.
What’s the takeaway?
Yoga let me chill out. Be present. Enjoy the moment. Try new things.
Maybe you can already do that. Great.
I couldn’t for a long time in my adult life. Now I can.
Yes, it has all sorts of physical benefits. My bad knees are better from yoga. I’m more flexible. I’m fitter. My blood pressure is lower. My body is more open and more healthy in general. That’s great. It’s everything else that has come with those important physical benefits that makes yoga meaningful to me.
The only question is, where does it take me next?
Postscript: The above post talks a lot about the non-physical impact of yoga I’ve experienced. Someone else might take yoga and experience it entirely for the physical. That can be significant and profound in and of itself. I know people who have found healing for back pain and other maladies that eluded them until they tried yoga. I know people who gain more from yoga in their mental, spiritual, and emotional health than in the physical. Everyone’s practice and experience in yoga is different. It truly is what you make of it.
Photo credits in the montage above in clockwise order to Instagram accounts @ali_ludovici, @lonegoatsoap, and @chelk87. Thanks for feeding the #wanderlustwhistler hashtag!