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My First Yoga Retreat!
Last week I got all stressy and overwhelmed and I morphed into this version of myself where I snapped at loved ones and cried over stupid things and generally felt overwhelmed. On top of, you know, being frustratingly sick.
Brian sent me an email basically saying, “You are not going to make it to the wedding, you need to get away for a bit and relax, here is a yoga retreat, you’re going, bye Felicia. PS What does bye Felicia mean and why do you keep saying it?”
It was actually a very sweet email with stuff about how he cares about me and doesn’t like seeing me like that and he did all this research and that is one of the reasons I am marrying him. (Though, in my head, there was a fleeting, “Is he sending me off to rehab because he can’t take me anymore?” thought. He laughed and insisted that was not the case. I’m glad I can be amusing.)
So on Thursday morning I rented a car and drove my way up the very narrow, very-easy-to-speed-on Taconic Parkway until I reached the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, MA.
The goal for the weekend was to relax, to do some yoga, to give myself a break, and to stop trying to run and go go go and do a million things at once.
I didn’t pack my Garmin, wedding binder or laptop (whoa).
I did, however, pack my mango soap!
I was enrolled in one day of Kripalu’s “R&R Retreat,” which just means you’re a regular guest and get to partake in all the ongoing activities, like hikes and kayaking and yoga classes. Then, I would be taking part in the “Immerse Yourself” Baptiste workshop. Baptiste is the style of yoga we do at Lyons Den, so I anticipated doing a ton of it while on the retreat. All chaturanga all the time. (This turned out to be far from the case, and the workshop was more talking about yoga than actually doing it, but…I rolled with it.)
I did a lot of reading and a lot of journaling. And because sharing my innermost, rambliest thoughts is the best way for me to communicate, here is a series of unedited excerpts from my diary. (Minus the really personal stuff. Some other time. We’ll keep it light for now.)
Thursday, August 13
I am at a YOGA RETREAT! I hardly even recognize myself.
So far it is absolutely lovely. I was nervous and hesitant to do this. Coming alone, having no idea what I’d be in for. But step one was renting a car and driving up to the Berkshires, and that went just fine. I’m a hero.
The place is beautiful. We’re nestled in the mountains, overlooking a lake. Everything is green and clean. When I checked in I was told I’d been given a free upgrade to a room in the “Annex,” which means I have a private bathroom instead of having to use the communal ones in the dorm-style rooms. A victory for Crohn’s kids everywhere!
I went to my room, unpacked a bit, then headed to my first yoga class! It was a 75-minute Vigorous Vinyasa Flow. Even though it was nothing compared to Lyons Den, I did enjoy it. Being sick, I know I need to accept that sometimes rest and restoration are best. The class wasn’t super playful, but the savasana was solid. When we sat up at the end for the “Namaste” part, I opened my eyes and was facing the back of the class. Everyone else was facing forward. My bad. Yes, people noticed.
After class, I was ready for dinner. Everything smelled so good. I ate 100 potatoes and made myself a BLT and had a piece of fish with pesto. (Who overeats at a yoga retreat? This girl.)
Then I did “Bedtime Yoga” or something like that. It was an entire, glorious hour of laying on our backs and doing things like spinal twist. I fell asleep during savasana. I always panic and get anxious during downtime (it’s why I never used to take advantage of my old company’s Summer Fridays and would just keep working). I always feel like I should be doing something. But during this class, I knew I had nowhere else to be and I could just relax. No one needed anything from me. Note to self: Implement “do not disturb” time in life back home.
I feel like everyone is here with someone. I hope once the Baptiste program starts I will meet some people. I like to have people. A lot of people have tags that say “In Loving Silence” which means they are choosing not to speak. All I ever want to do is speak, but I haven’t used my voice in hours. It’s a very strange feeling.
I also made the mistake of packing my loudest J-Crew platform critter flip flops from 2001 which are, BTW, the flip floppiest shoes of all-time, and make a lot of noise as I walk down the quiet halls. My flops: Not In Loving Silence.
Friday, August 14
Thank you, stomach, for keeping me up all night.
I hear a train! Where is that coming from?
The yoga sessions started at 6:30 AM, so I did an Intermediate Class. So far the yoga here is mostly stretching, a lot of deep breathing, and a lot of laying down. I definitely prefer Baptiste, but I guess this change of pace is why I’m here. It’s about mental relaxation, not calorie burn.
Then I went to Silent Breakfast. Breakfast is a silent meal. No talking! I kind of like it…
Next up was a guided hike led by two cute blonde girls. In true Kripalu fashion, I’m learning, we spent 15 minutes of the hike being silent. It was nice, though! I picked a blackberry off a bush and ate it, and I picked an apple off a tree and it tasted like New Hampshire.
I still have no friends.
“YogaDance” is a thing they do here.
I thought it was going to be like, down-dogging to Jay-Z. In actuality, it was 60 minutes of unstructured, uninhibited interpretive dance. It was not for me. Picture a room of 30 quite possibly stoned, or just very enlightened, older folks dancing wildly and sweating a ton. I tried to get into it, but just wasn’t feeling it. But you go, Glen Coco. (And truly, these people have so much confidence, I love it. Admirable for sure.)
Friend tally: Still zero, but two girls smiled at me from across the room during YogaDance.
I got a massage and at the end the therapist said, “You’re one strong lady! Do you work out?”
I have not showered yet today.
There are people doing Acro-Yoga all over the lawn. This is how I will make friends. I will swan dive onto their headstand pyramid. Here comes Feller!
I have gone hours at a time without using my voice here.
I have gone hours at a time without eating dessert here.
There are also kids here now that it’s the weekend. They are on the lawn doing the Whip and the Nae-Nae. Namaste-Nae.
The Baptiste program started tonight, and I found great comfort in that. Speaking my language! All about “being a yes” and “be here now” and “Wheel.”
I think I am breathing deeper this weekend than I usually do.
Friend tally: Holding steady at zero, but the Baptiste teacher did acknowledge my Lyons Den sweatshirt and said, “I know Bethany!”
Saturday, August 15
Up allllll night in stomach pain. WTF? Come on, rejuvenation!
While walking to breakfast, I heard the familiar beep of a Garmin 220 finding satellites. Sad. I wanted to ask the group of girls how far they were running and where they were going. Instead I did Silent Breakfast.
I saw a bunny. I named him Brian. Then he hopped away.
Friends: 0, because Brian hopped to it.
I MADE A FRIEND HER NAME IS CAROL I AM GONNA EMAIL HER TO KEEP IN TOUCH.
I have a real human pal.
Carol sat down next to me at a picnic table during lunch, and she saw my ring and asked when I’m getting married. She lives in New Hampshire and her daughter recently graduated college so we are def the same age, me and Carol. She said she wants to go on a safari and I was like, “Carol, if you give me your email address and your home address, I will write to you when I get back.”
I found the lake, and it is amazing. There’s a drummer and guitar player and people dancing around to “Hare Krishna.” NAMASTE.
It’s very buggy by the lake.
I wonder what Carol is doing.
Dinner tonight was so good and I made yet another friend! She, too, noticed I had a ring on my finger and asked about it because she is getting married in two weeks! Besties! We bonded a lot and then we saw a rainbow. We also got some blueberry cobbler with dinner tonight. I bet Carol loved it!
Sunday, August 16
I saw Carol at breakfast today! We were both making some toast and she whispered, “Hi! I know we’re not supposed to talk…” She broke the rules for me. Classic Carol!
I attempted a morning yoga class today, but I fell asleep during the starting meditation. Oops.
There is a guy here who looks just like Harry Styles. What if it is Harry Styles? I would ask, but he is In Loving Silence.
Our final Baptiste session was my favorite one because we finally did some yoga. We flowed through the entire Journey Into Power sequence and it felt great. I didn’t love the program and would’ve preferred to just do the R&R stuff the whole time (more hikes and kayaking!), but I took it all in and did a lot of soul searching.
I feel lighter and more at ease. The challenge, of course, is maintaining that feeling back in NYC. I’m glad I did this and am grateful for Brian for caring about me enough to give me this opportunity.
To recap: Going to Kripalu gave me a wonderful (and pretty rare, these days) opportunity to relax, reset, and really spend some time alone. I read an entire book over the course of the weekend, which I never do, and I actually let myself just sit. I didn’t watch TV, I wasn’t online, and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
Kripalu is a gorgeous place, and the emphasis there is definitely on self-empowerment and reflection. I dug it.
Now I just wait for my stomach to follow suit!