So You Think You Want To Do A Solo Yoga Retreat
I just got back from 6 days at Kripalu, a yoga and wellness retreat center in the beautiful Berkshires, MA. I was supposed to be in Croatia with my friends for the week... and yes I ended up in Massachusetts. Alone. By choice.
WTF was I thinking?? I thought this at least 20 times a day for the first 2.5 days.
If we are IRL friends you know getting on a plane to somewhere brand new is my actual happy place... but for whatever reason (there were a few) my body and mind knew that I needed a breather from NYC that didnt mean flying or partying- as much as wine tasting in waterfalls sounds like my dream come true. In fact I had this gut intuition that it was time to get really quiet. So I opened Omega institute (another great retreat center) & Kripalu's websites and saw a program called CALM BODY, CLEAR MIND, OPEN HEART: A YOGA, MEDITATION, AND NATURE RETREAT. I stalked the teacher Jillian Pransky, who looked really cool and interesting (I was right!!) and booked it.
Before I tell you about my (incredibly difficult) week, here are some things to think about if you're gonna book a solo retreat:
1. Choose a place where you know you'll feel safe. Shit's gonna come up if you travel or go deep solo. So both the destination, and the physical hotel or dorm space have to feel like a little haven. I had to have my own room; I've done the dorm thing and shared rooms before, and privacy felt super important to me. If $$ is a thing, there are great ways to split accommodations to make it doable. If $$ is NOT a thing... may i suggest looking into Taryn Toomey's The Class Retreatment. And taking me with you.
2. Choose what you REALLY want to be doing. I have done Yogascapes retreats, SurfYogaBeer retreats, my friend's small retreats, and went to Kripalu solo once before. They are all SO different. SurfYogaBeer, for example, is a fitness retreat with a good dose of party. Lots of people show up solo on this and I've met some of my best friends through them. At Kripalu, it's a much more quiet, internal experience, but I also met people I will keep in touch with - they just happen to be 30 or 40 or 50 years my senior - which gave me the most amazing perspective and insight!!
3. YES: Lots of other people go solo too! You are not a weirdo traveling alone, even if your friends at home think you are. What's kind of crazy is that you can show up as whoever you want to - not in a, be a circus performer way - but you can be an introvert when you'd otherwise not be. Or maybe the opposite. You can sit and talk with other people for lunch... or not. Also what I found incredibly empowering is to ask myself: what do I want to do in this moment? To not be swayed or guided by friends/fam/significant other decision is a beautiful and rare thing. Some mornings I went swimming in the lake, some I went for a trail run, others I did sun salutations or yoga class.
As for my experience....
I am not going to lie - this was a HARD, like excruciating, week for me personally. Not only was this not a vacation with a mai tai in hand - I also did not expect that this particular week I would be going *through* it. By that i mean - going through some really hard and anxious and sad relationship stuff that was weighing extremely heavy on my heart. It's too fresh to share at the moment, but (with his consent) it's also been a beautiful thing that I hope to share more on soon.
Back to the retreat - the week included learning all about calming your body so you can feel safe (have you heard of the psoas muscle??), "relaxing on purpose", and restorative yoga and meditation - including sound baths and live music. Whew, this sounds like it should be easy. For me, who speaks fast moves fast thinks fast... it was not. As I mentioned the week was guided by the brilliant, kind Jillian Pransky, if you have a chance to take a class or retreat with her I highly recommend you cease that opportunity!
Plus it included a purification ceremony with lighting intentions on fire & getting sage'd head to toe; you know this was my favorite part.
I can already see that this was a really, really important week for me. I sat in the front of the class and barely spoke - which is not my normal MO. I threw myself into books, wrote non stop, learned as much as i could humanly soak in, sat with all the icky feels, and tried to get to some core feels of what I want in my life and how I want to act. Clearly I havent solved that riddle but I feel closer than i ever have before. And it was a heartfilling bonus that my sister was nearby and kidnapped me for a night.
I know I came home a different, calmer, softer, slower person... Maybe this had to do with no drinks or sugar, but I 100% feel I have been able to process an otherwise difficult situation in a kind, gentle, loving way where I think I may otherwise be losing my shit.
I feel SOLID in myself, and weirdly good, and that feels really strong and empowering.
Also minor but major stuff - I'm over my technology addiction (for the moment), obsessed with reading and learning ALL THE THINGS, and I feel so in touch with hunger & fullness signals.
So: Thank you Jillian & all my new friends for holding space... Now go book yourself a solo retreat!! It's work but it's worth it, all the good stuff is. Lots of love and in case you're wondering/worried, I'm doing great and off to therapy x2 this week... thank god for ANGEL NETWORKS. ;) xx