How my cancelled Yoga Retreat became a personal retreat – and what was truly needed

Plan vs Reality

I planned to travel to the Baja twice this year. Once for a holiday with my husband and our new babe. The second to lead a yoga retreat at the beautiful Casa Tara Retreat Center (which my boys would accompany me to).

Despite my efforts and months of advertising, the yoga retreat did not sell well. I was forced to make the difficult decision to cancel and was truly bummed.

The strange thing is once I let go of the retreat, and could unwind into my tropical vacation, I discovered that my family trip was what was honestly needed. I was the one that I needed to take on retreat.

The Teacher’s Dilemma

Holding the role of a yoga teacher is a strange territory. My practice of yoga and meditation, like thousands before and after me, is what calls me to teach and share. And like thousands before and after me, I am constantly honing the practice of tempering my mind and ego. 

Being yoga teachers our longing to serve gets twisted. Am I offering enough? Should I be teaching more? More classes? Workshops? Special evenings? Retreats? Maybe I should be developing a curriculum for continuing education training? Should I be widening my platform? Trying to teach in other, larger venues? What are other people doing? Am I falling behind?  It’s dizzying! The push to do more, from both internal and external forces, is relentless. The fear that if we are not teaching constantly we will become what… irrelevant? forgotten? undesirable?

Substantial personal practice to keep my intention true cannot lapse, because when it does, anxiety begins to steer the ship.

Pretty much everything we do as yoga teachers is a gamble, a gamble that our time and effort (and in the case of a retreat significant monetary investment) will be met with interest and resonance. Sometimes it works out, and something magical occurs. Sometimes we barely pull it off, and sometimes things fail. We have to take care to make sure to honor a separation between what we offer and who we are. When things fail it can feel like a personal failure. Creative people, from all spectrums, struggle at times to separate the things they make and offer with who they are as people… this attachment and churning of the ego go on and on in an endless loop, a particular cycle of samsara, the cycle of sufferingThe incredible thing is my canceled retreat did feel like a failure a little over a month ago. Today it feels like a gift.

Lemons from Lemonade

My canceled retreat allowed me to take time away and retreat myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away from it all until I had actual, physical space from my studio (which anyone who shares space with us in Cranbrook knows is built at my home, on my property).  It was a gift to come away without the pressure of planning what was to come next. To create some separation from the day to day of the studio space.

When I host a retreat my deepest hope is that my participants will reap the much-needed benefits of retreating. Retreats are about finding space, feeling rested and nourished, recalibrating and shifting perspective. Retreating is so valuable, in whatever form we can find it, be it a quiet cup of coffee, an afternoon in the woods, or a fabulous yoga getaway with all the bells and whistles.

After a month away on my own personal retreat, I feel like I finally remember, for the first time in years perhaps, that my life is made up of a lot more than being a yoga teacher. There are, in fact, A LOT of things that I love. Although I care deeply about sharing the practices of yoga (and meditation) with people, the number of yoga offerings I’m sharing, and the popularity of said offerings are hardly a denominator of my worth. 

This personal retreat I ended up taking set me up to return to my regular life with a refreshed perspective and a full heart. Because of it, I am ready and excited to return to teaching in the New Year and see what might evolve in that arena, without nearly as much pressure or apprehension.

We ALL need to retreat from time to time, and while I am hopeful to host another tropical retreat in the not too distant future, I also truly look forward to my next opportunity to get away and drink the beauty of life in.