This week is my birthday – 46 years young. I always enjoy my birthday, and this year should be no exception, because I am going on my first ever yoga retreat! I tried to go on a Bikram yoga retreat, but unfortunately the timing and locations did not work well, so I am going on a more general yoga retreat instead. I am excited, but I must admit I am also a little bit nervous. While I have a regular Bikram yoga practice, I have not done much yoga other than Bikram. I know the names of some of the postures (i.e., downward dog, pigeon, etc), but I don’t know the specifics of the poses — the proper alignment or much of anything else. And the class will probably be different everyday!
Will I understand how to do the postures? In the few non-Bikram yoga classes I have attended (mostly at a hotel on vacation when there is no Bikram studio in town), the teachers have not typically provided specific directions for each posture. They say something like, “Push yourself up through plank and back into downward dog.” That is fine, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. How far apart should my feet be? Where should I be feeling the stretch? Should my gaze be between my feet or my hands or somewhere else? I don’t know. I am hoping I will get many more details in class during the retreat. If not, I will be sure to ask after class.
Can I maintain my composure? In Bikram class, I know the postures well and use class to work on my form and depth. At the retreat, I will be starting from scratch, which could be a bit humbling. I hope to approach it like I advise others to approach their first Bikram yoga class — with no expectations and with the composure to just take the practice as it comes. Easier said than done, but a great lesson for me in humility and mindfulness.
How strenuous will the yoga be? I am ashamed of myself for thinking that, because it is such a typical stereotype of yoga – that it is not a vigorous workout. Obviously, I know this to be completely false from my Bikram practice. Yet, here I am worrying that the yoga might not be vigorous enough. Kind of ironic. I bet it knocks me on my back.
Despite my worries, I am very much looking forward to the retreat! At the very least, it will be a good opportunity to challenge myself and learn something new. My hope is that it will not only deepen my love of the practice of yoga, but also take me a little farther down the road of self-exploration that I have begun with my Bikram yoga practice. I will let you know how it goes!
Fellow yogis, have you ever attended a yoga retreat?