APRIL 7-9, 2017; @ JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK (below)
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of co-leading a weekend yoga retreat with Arielle Rabier. Inspired by the 2014 retreats I led solo to the high desert (Desert Hot Springs), we reserved an air b n b in Yucca Valley, equipped with a yoga studio and panoramic, desert mountain vistas. I will say from the get go that the experience of co-leading a retreat this time (my first time ever) was truly wonderful in that Arielle met me half way there, shared the load and burden of making a flier, attracting clients, marketing, deposit, arrangements and organization galore. It’s actually a ton of work. And that is why leading retreats is a great way for a yoga teacher to earn well; it’s deserved. A lot of the work is done on the front end; but then there is also teaching, being on 100% of the time and holding space for your retreaters through out the experience. In this sense it was so nice to have Arielle to lean on and even to get to practice yoga twice with her was luxurious, and set me up to thrive on the retreat in a working capacity. So many thanks, Arielle. Can’t wait for our next yoga adventure, sounds like Baja MEX is a front runner for the Fall… 😉
Now, to the retreat summary! I always love to blog about these experiences, because it is so special to experience a group of 11 people, sharing a weekend together in peaceful community, practicing yoga & meditation, mindfulness, being in nature; and, of course, the bounty of laughter through out the weekend merits reminiscing! The smiles and deep relaxation of those present, and their transformation through out the course of the retreat, warms my heart!
We all arrived Friday afternoon/evening and settled in for a nice meditation and yoga session with Arielle. That helped us feel better from the work week and the drive out to the desert. When finished, our amazing chef Prem had prepared a dinner of vegan and gluten-free, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato cashew soup! Thereafter, we sat outside around the fire pit, star gazing. We also talked about a few profound things, like the fear of the unknown, and being frozen, and the J curve, relationships and growth, among other topics. We truly had a smart and sophisticated bunch of retreaters, so the conversations were enriching and many topics of Yoga were broached through out the weekend.
Saturday morning we awoke to yummy green smoothies and a warm muesli breakfast bar (and coffee) before meditation and yoga with Arielle. She taught us what she does so well, inversions; specifically, she shared her skills in Handstanding! It was a great, peak energetic point of the retreat and tons of fun! Thank you, Arielle, for your hands-on assists and positive, receptive energy, and for encouraging us all to “feel the feels” and be in the moment of the process, in truth and acceptance of where we find ourselves. Post-class, LUNCH! A most delicious and fresh quinoa salad with candied almonds, romaine lettuce, mint, red peppers and more veggie goodness. This was to sustain us (and so it did) on our hike to Joshua Tree National Park, the second energetic peak of the weekend!
Many of the pictures are from that most awesome and strange landscape of huge boulders, high mountain tops and Dr. Seuss trees! We had a blast hiking to the top of Ryan Mountain; it was sunny and warm but with a brisk, chilly wind that reminded my bones that we still weren’t quite into the thick of Spring just yet. Brrrr! Nonetheless, the nature was so gorgeous and serene; and I truly love the feeling of awe and humility I experience when out in the elements, in Mother Nature in such a way. I enjoy bringing this aspect to my yoga retreats; it serves as a great excursion and refresh, to come away from the retreat haven to then return, re-inspired.
After a quick snack back at home, it was on for Yin/Yang yoga! Prem brought his bliss lights, which set the yoga studio up for an amazing class experience. I guided the group into some passive Yin postures and then balanced it with gentle Yang movement in between… the evening yoga session on Saturday supported grounding and softening in each individual, so as to wind down after 2 active yoga practices and an hiking excursion. Blissed out, indeed! Post Yin, Prem fed us from a beautiful desert flower and nature installation (co-designed by Melody): lemon rice, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, tempeh and herbs… his food nourished us, was so clean, tasty and simple! We are so grateful to Prem for his work on the retreat, and the converted school bus he drove up in, cooks and sleeps in. Perfect!
Needless to say, everyone was beat Saturday night! After dinner, most excused themselves to shower and hit the hay. Arielle, Melody and I, however, did spend a little time bathing in the near full moonlight outside by the pool, talking and laughing and taking it all in. A good night’s sleep was definitely in order, for Sunday morning we were back on for meditation and an active, juicy, full moon back bending practice with yours truly! Pincha Mayurasana (Scorpion)!
Sunday morning came strawberry matcha smoothies (omg) and coffee before yoga. Class was all about opening the heart and releasing whatever is holding us back from living our heart’s purpose. My heart’s purpose is to do this kind of work, to help people connect to themselves and their truest desires, cultivating happiness and health. I have abundant gratitude for the fact that I have co-created this life (with the support of a lot of people and the Universe) with hard work yet easeful flow; and I believe that that is because I have allowed my heart to lead me as much as my mind, gut and intuition. This is why I am so passionate about yoga because it really provides the tools to access one’s own truth, then learn how to channel it into life, physical manifestation! This retreat exemplifies such and I am very proud of this work.
After a 2 hour yoga session, it was time to gear up and go home. Not with out gluten free pancakes and all the delicious toppings, first! Everyone helped clean up a bit and made their goodbyes, feeling relaxed, satisfied, and happy to have an entire Sunday afternoon and evening ahead of them to leisurely return to the coast, a 2+ hour drive. Some other things I am grateful for concerning our retreat: ToeSox that were provided to each participant, Young Living Essential Oils which made the yoga studio smell amazing and complemented the practices, and to the attendees for carpooling and keeping our carbon footprint as low as possible traveling to and from the retreat! 🙂
What a blessing! Cactus Moon Yoga Retreat… thank you all for making this happen and for letting Arielle and I be your yoga guides, on and off the mat. Stay connected to learn about upcoming retreat opportunities! Enjoy the photos and get a taste of the experience of a yoga retreat out in the southern California desert.