Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Yoga Retreating

A month ago, I found out that my restorative yoga teacher was looking for another person to assist at her annual retreat in the mid-Hudson region of New York, which is more or less where I spent the first half of my life. After a little deliberation (What happens if there's another debilitating snow storm on the east coast? What does a yoga assistant at a retreat do?), I told her that I wanted to be an assistant. 

I arrived at Hogwarts the resort on Friday evening, a week after it had reopened to the public following a massive sanitation effort prompted by an outbreak of a gross GI bug. The resort is, simply, amazing. All it needs is a 2000' vertical snow-covered slope, and it would be perfect for me, but who's got time to pick nits?


I assisted classes.


I cross country skied in toasty conditions.

I ice skated.

And completely unexpectedly, I subbed the last class at the retreat. It was one of those clichéd "right place at the right time" moments and having the courage (or, more accurately, being only half awake and uncaffeinated) to say yes when the opportunity arose. It turned into one of the most amazing experiences I've had teaching yoga: after the class, one woman told me that it was the fastest 75-minutes she's ever experienced!

I went into yoga teacher training 4 years ago to "deepen my practice." Teaching wasn't the end goal. I had done enough led Ashtanga, Iyengar, and traditions in between to know that I cared about alignment and wasn't into binding into a pose just for the sake of binding into a pose. Besides, I have tight shoulders. From teacher training, I wanted to receive knowledge that I was unlikely to obtain from taking large group classes.

Being too groggy to pay attention to any gremlins that wanted to creep up and whisper to me not to teach on Sunday morning was a good thing. It essentially led me to step outside of my comfort zone, or take a calculated risk where I expanded the level of risk I was willing to accept. And really, the risk was just my ego, right?

Realistically, the class size was not much larger than classes that I've taught in gym settings in DC. The most nerve-wracking thing for me was that people had signed up for a winter yoga weekend with my teacher, not me. I wouldn't have been offended if people had turned around and decided to go snowshoeing instead. But no one turned around. And although I think many in the group initially stayed out of kindness, I really believe that at the end of class, they were pleased that they remained.

I'm still riding the high from the weekend and excited to bring this energy to my regular classes this week....stay tuned!

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