Amazon Yoga Retreat: 3 important life lessons
In September, I took time off from “life” and immersed myself completely into the Peruvian Amazon. For 12 days, I took a yoga course/retreat with Noah Mckenna designed specifically for yoga teachers. I wanted to deepen my knowledge, reconnect with yoga practice, and learn new things I could share with others. Little did I know, I would learn so much more about life.
Yoga retreats are becoming more and more popular because they allow you to disconnect from everything and reconnect with yourself at a deeper level. Of course, an initial reason to go on a yoga retreat is to get that physical practice and feedback or get extra help with those difficult poses you want to achieve. Although modern yoga has a focus on the physicality and shapes of the poses, yoga goes way beyond this and taking a retreat helps you discover new practices and perspectives.
Here are 3 life lessons I learned while I was in the Amazon:
No matter where you are, life still happens.
Ever had the thought: “If/when I live in the mountains without so many people around me, life would be so much better”. Unfortunately, this is not how life works. Firstly, these types of thoughts involve looking forward to a “better future”, which is unproductive and unhelpful for the present. Secondly, no matter where you are in the world, no matter how secluded the area is, when you are with others in a community (whatever the size), uncomfortable situations, disagreements, frustration, sadness, and a whole other range of events and emotions come and go. Yoga teaches you to observe your attitude or reactions towards them: are you able to let certain events go, or do you grasp onto them and let them take over your mind? Or maybe you get involved too much or too little? Can you still maintain your inner state of love, happiness, and compassion no matter what?
Emotions are everywhere.
Even when you think they are not. We are emotional beings, and sometimes we let them carry us away, or we become so rational that we push them aside completely. So, how do you find the in-between? That question has so many answers that vary for everyone. However, the yang society we live in is fast-paced, active, rapid, and ever changing: distracting us from our emotions that are sometimes ignored or taken for granted. During the retreat, many practices helped us focus on our emotional body, our chakras, and where we store feelings in our body. Additionally, some healing practices like the temazcal (sweat lodge), working with the chakras (energetic centers in your body), and medicinal plants were incorporated and helped release emotions at a very deep level. This is when you can start working on what you need the most.
Your body needs attention.
For a few years now, there has been a health boom with trends promoting physical activity and healthy eating. Whatever you choose to do, the key is to make these healthy patterns become habits, something completely part of your day. No matter what you try to incorporate as a habit, the two most important aspects are body awareness and acceptance. Without them, you will constantly look for a new workout that is better, a new diet that is more effective, and you will continuously focus on the results. Again, these are all thoughts that are fed to us by external sources: images, social media, products, magazines, etc. Accepting the body you have is not easy at all. But it is your temple: your skeleton, bones, and shape are unique to only you and your most important task is to take care of it. Maybe it does have certain limitations: I am a yoga teacher and my body will most likely never do the splits because of my structure. Do I want to force my body into it at all costs? Or do I want to focus on what I can do, what feels great, and that will only be beneficial and not detrimental on the long term?
And then, after 12 days of bliss, quietness, gently focus on every aspect of my mind, body, and soul, it was time to go back into the real world. And this is where the harder practice became: to maintain this inner connection in a highly stimulate concrete jungle. I felt affected and sensitive to so many things afterwards: traffic, cellphones, people speaking loudly, everyone rushing everywhere, getting into a small bike accident all made me realize how important it is to be able to maintain the practices that help me connect with myself and maintain an awareness of my body, emotions in every day life.