Doing yoga in the lap of mother nature always had its allure. This, combined with the company of friends and fellow yogis felt like a great birthday gift to myself. Thus, I signed up for my first yoga retreat.
Now I have practiced yoga for flexibility, balance and strength. But mix it up with a little spirituality, dance, comradery, and philosophy… and it turned into a truly “yogasmic” experience.
The Root Chakra.
This chakra is associated with survival and safety.
When you pack a bus with 28 yogis of different genders, ideologies, and ability to handle 28 of the nastiest hairpin bends of the Shevaroys range in Tamil Nadu, you expect nothing short of chaos! 🙂 But man, was I proven wrong! Thanks to the collective wisdom, yogic patience, and the ability to lighten things up that made us survive everything – from the excruciatingly slow interstate toll-booths, to the scorching heat, to motion sickness, and the 7 hour bus ride to our destination, Yercaud. In fact, the journey felt more like flying with a non-stop entertainment channel barring the occasional bad weather warnings.
The third eye chakra. This chakra is associated with our intuitive wisdom and ability to relax and focus at the same time.
Our resort, with scattered lotus ponds and hilly terrain full of wild flowers, and lined with native tall trees, provided a perfect setting for our yoga session.
Yoga is not about touching your toes; it is what you learn on the way down – One of which is the realization that yoga is a practise that cannot be easily perfected (somewhat like life itself.) You have to always be open to receiving and grasping the wisdom around you…whether it is a new asana or an old one with a new style.
But you have to be kind to yourself too. Go with your own pace and style. Albeit, enjoy your own pace and style.
What I realized was, no one is perfect in all the poses but each one of us is perfect in some (even if it is the savasana :)). If each one of us learns something from the other, as a whole we all seem perfect. The partner stretches we did, stressed this fact ever so convincingly.
Don’t just accept others as they are; seek out the greatness in each one.
Even though we were like 28 different energy forces, we all felt in sync that evening, not just with one another, with nature, with the melodious voice of our guru, with the chirping of the birds, with the smell of the grass beneath us, with the filtered shade of the tall trees above us, and above all, with ourselves.
There were lot of such moments where we inhaled in this bliss while exhaling out the toxicity within; relaxing and focusing at the same time…
The Sacral Chakra.
This chakra is associated with pleasure and harmonious exchange.
That evening saw us practicing a different asana. The asana of letting go…While some did it through engaging in some “satvik” drinking, the others let loose with some bollywood dance moves. But the real letting go happened by the camp-fire when we shared personal incidents that we have been embarrassed or guilty about. Well, I’m not sure how many grams of body mass got shed that day, but I’m certain that we shed loads of prejudices and inhibitions that night. Certainly, a tougher load to offload!
The crown chakra.
This chakra is associated with liberation and higher consciousness.
The next morning was all about awakening our spiritual self as we started our practice with pranayama and ended with meditation. The “so hum” meditation and the chanting intertwined our energy forces with the gentle morning breeze in a beautiful harmony, leaving us in a state of higher consciousness and calm. That falling drop of tear was quite reflective to our liberated state…Ah, and the sublime after-glow on our faces…I doubt if the effect of the fanciest of creams and lotions could match up to it!
The Solar Plexus Chakra.
This chakra is associated with self-discipline and taking responsibility.
Most surprisingly, the effects of our yogic capability seem to have manifested in our time consciousness and self-awareness during the trip. Even with the jam-packed itinerary and just a few hours of sleep, all our major events from leaving in the morning to getting back on time were completely self-monitored and dot on the schedule (barring the unavoidable circumstancial delays). So proud that as a group, we completely busted the Indian Standard Time perception. Much in the same way we follow traffic rules on foreign roads! 🙂
The heart chakra.
This chakra is associated with love and compassion.
When your heart is full of bliss, it will eminate love.
The random acts of kindness and compassion that we witnessed were the most endearing part of the trip. Like one of us bending over backwards (literally) to help her partner regain her confidence in doing the seemingly impossible yoga poses.
Like all of us cheering for everyone’s shirshasana moments.
Like the surprise birthday cake and the heartfelt personal notes from friends.
Like one of us convincing the whole group to forgo the sight-seeing to get back in time to attend to a fellow yogi’s sick child.
Like some of us, getting their hands dirty with the bus driver to get us back in time after the bus breakdown.
It is great to live a healthy life..But I realized it is more fulfilling to live a humane life.
The throat chakra.
This chakra is associated with self-expression and communication.
The ride back saw all of us being extra expressive. (something to do with the realization that all good things have to come to an end!) The bus was abuzz with our healthy banter (we could have given tough competition to any punjabi baraat that day. :)) Interestingly though, we were able to squeeze in some insightful discourses on the philosophy of yoga and of life and on all things in-between. This chakra definately got awakened amongst each of us. 🙂
Needless to say, the yoga retreat offered ample opportunities to awaken all our kundalini chakras, to experience yoga more profoundly and to be a little more wiser in the process.
I’m sure lot of you do yoga as a routine practice…but try changing the context once in a while.
Even if you cannot go to a retreat, you can go to a nearby park or do it with friends or do it with a new guru.
And if you can, make it an annual ritual. Go away on a retreat (yoga or otherwise) that is dedicated to rejuvenating your mind, body and soul.
ps. A special mention to our yoga guru…LD (as we like to call her), the force behind the whole effort.
She is an unique combination of an accomplished yogi, a disciplined guru, and a well-rounded human being. She teaches yoga in our community but spreads her knowledge via her Facebook page.