Nosara Retreat, November 2015
Balancing on your head is hard, as is standing on your hands. But what’s even more challenging is signing up for an unprecedented experience with people you do not know and the promise of not only stepping, but running, jumping, and falling face first out of your comfort zone. When the 20 plus strangers cram together inside of a bus accompanied by the smells of jet lag and the taste of airplane booze, the magic starts to take effect immediately. Pretenses begin to fall away like layers no longer needed in the equatorial sun. The connections that are beginning to form are as sweet as ripe Papaya.
On each Surf Yoga Beer retreat we do a lot of yoga, and I am lucky enough to lead some of the physical practices. But it is not only during our 108 Sun Salutations or throughout our post-surf asanas that the yoga happens. We’re practicing throughout the entire week. We practice yoga from the minute we get on the plane to the second we say teary eyed goodbyes to our new family as we depart from the airport. We are breathing together through physical challenges such as surfing for the first time, beach bootcamps in the hot sun, battling waves as big as mountains, experimenting with local fare, and of course experimenting with handstands.
We are emotionally practicing as we open the door of our hearts to one another. We are raw versions of ourselves when we travel, and in our vulnerability we ask the new friends around us to embrace us for who we are, and take us with them on their own journey through our exotic new home. We hold up a toast to a once-stranger, make eye contact with sincerity, and know deeply that we are connected.
We are mentally doing yoga - expanding and shifting perspective - as we go inward through goal coaching and personal development exercises. Who do we want to show up as? Not dependent on the constraints of our normal reality, but with the freedom that comes with traveling. How can we show up in a way that allows both ourselves and those around us to best thrive? Many times these questions do not have immediate answers, but as patient yogis we continue to breathe with, through, and around them. The provocative questions of who we are as individuals and what our wildest dreams contain continue to shift and morph and dance alongside us, collecting in the quiet places like beach sand in the lining of bathing suits. This dance, too, is the yoga.
We are asked to practice the entire duration of the trip, including when we want to throw a curse at our fearless leader Mantas when he wakes us up at 6am for bootcamp with his deceptively loud speaker. I am so proud to be a part of the yogic experience on these trips. As a yoga teacher I lead the group through postures and breath work, and I try to prompt internal investigation as we flow together. However, the setting of Surf Yoga Beer and the experience created together makes us all students bearing witness to the magnificence of life that can be lived over the course of a single week. To that experience, one can’t help but bow down.