texas beach

What I Learned at Our Yoga Retreat

Last week’s Yoga Retreat was such a great growth experience… for me. Don’t get me wrong, after 4 years doing this, I’ve gotten pretty good at organizing a retreat. And Angela, Stacy, and I prepared our hearts out to deliver interesting and relevant content to our participants.

The logistics were fine and everything went (pretty much) according to plan, but the difference this year is that for the first time, I was able to check out every once in a while to recharge my own batteries.

When we come back from our retreats, people always ask me, “How did it go?! Did you have fun?!” and “How was your vacation?!” And the truth is that it is fun, but it’s also a lot of work. There’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.

And this year, maybe because I’m more experienced at running a retreat, or maybe because I’ve grown in my personal practice, or maybe because we had three teachers instead of two, or maybe because of all these reasons, I was able to take some breaks.

I spent quiet time drinking tea and reading on my balcony. I took a nap. I hung out on the beach. Initially I felt a little guilty not being present with the retreat participants every single minute, but then I realized I was doing both me and them a favor. By taking care of myself, I could do a better job teaching and facilitating discussions with them. My brain was sharper, I was a better listener, I was more dialed in.

This reminds me of a story I shared at the retreat. When I worked at HP many years ago, I had a French manager. She was a very smart lady and a gifted leader. She had a unique philosophy for our team: She wanted us to NOT be busy 100% of the time. She wanted us to have downtime so that we could think and dream and de-stress and recharge our batteries. At that time I thought it was pretty cool and revolutionary. Now, I realize she was teaching us good self care.

And that’s why this retreat was such an important growth experience for me. For the first time, I experienced first hand, with immediate consequence, the result of checking out and taking a short, deep rest. It’s made me rethink my whole over-scheduled existence. It’s even made me ponder the quantity of my children’s extra-curricular activities.

Our society values productivity and accomplishment over everything else, but what about happiness, contentedness, peacefulness, and enjoyment of life? Just like everything, there needs to be a balance. (Just like in the Yoga asana practice - a balance of effort and ease.)

So I’m going to keep an eye out for myself. I’m going to pay attention to when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed and I’m going to look for an opportunities to take breaks. I’m going to look over my schedule and make sure there’s a balance of work and rest. And I’m going to plan a week at the beach, this time for my family, so that we can have a good dose of downtime before the school year starts up again.

I’d love to hear about how you keep an eye out for yourself (or how you’re going to start!). How do you create a balance of effort and ease in your life?

zelinda hat XO, Zelinda