Yoga Getaways: a time for people to get away from their usual busy lives. A weekend that includes a variety of yoga classes, breathing & meditation classes, great meals, time to indulge in a Wellness Centre treatment, explore the Island or just relax at the Centre. It seems like a pretty straightforward retreat.
Being new to the Centre and as the new Programs Manager it was exciting as our first Yoga Getaway drew near. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But fortunately for me, most of staff here were familiar with these retreats from previous years. (I use the term ‘staff’ loosely as almost everyone here is here practicing karma yoga or selfless service).
People started arriving in the afternoon, bags in hand, glad that they had arrived and ready to begin. Some were returning guests, knowing what to expect and the ‘lay of the land’. Others had never been to the Centre or even the Island. Lakshmi, a long time community member, was our House Manager for the weekend. She sat with each small group as they arrived with a cup of tea and a warm smile and welcome each of them. I noticed how people started to settle in.
After a yoga postures class and dinner, the orientation started with a little information about the Centre and included an opening circle to really begin the retreat. Personally I felt that this was a gift to be a part of. We talked about what we were leaving behind in order to be here for this weekend. There were moms leaving their children for the weekend for the first time, wives leaving husbands to fend for themselves, men and women leaving work, leaving stress, leaving email. Some left wedding plans, pets, moving plans, traffic and schedules. The lists were varied but the nods amongst the group confirmed the concepts were shared. We discussed what our intentions were for the weekend and again there were more similarities than differences.
The group itself was a collection: mothers and daughters, sisters, friends, husbands and wives and individuals. I watched how people started to meet through shared stories, humour and the desire to just be here now. A guided meditation closed off the evening and I watched as people physically began to unwind and let go.
The weekend moved between the various types of classes to chose from and free time, punctuated by meals. Guests saw the connection of the food they ate with the farm they wandered through in the afternoon and the karma staff they met who harvested or prepared the food. There were many questions about the idea of selfless service and some guests were interested to hear how many of us found our way to the Centre to live and work.
As the getaway came to an end, we gathered again for a closing circle. This made the biggest impression on me by far. People shared what this weekend did for them; allowed them to relax, to unwind, to breathe, to just be. The energy felt different in this same group of people from when we sat here just two days earlier. It was still playful but just a little lighter.
For me, this is what it was about. Not just what the Yoga Getaway itself is for, but even what the Centre is here for. I can’t say for sure what this weekend will do for our guests when they returned to their homes, returned to their routines. For some this may just be a reset button and they will continue on as usual. Perhaps for others, this will have a rippling effect that will cascade into their lives in unknown ways. But for me as a karma yogi and as the Programs Manager, I found my purpose in that circle. My reason to be here. To help create a space for people to come, take a breath and find some peace. And now with a busy season ahead of us I can look forward to being a part of that again and again.
Contributed by Kris Cox.