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July 15, 2019

How the “Wrong” Yoga Class Taught me all the Right Lessons.

The lowest point of my Costa Rica Retreat hit me mid-week.

Dealing with work-related tech glitches on a hot Wednesday afternoon left me agitated. The humidity and mosquitoes were relentless. The gorgeous blue jays were dive-bombing tables and stealing my food.

I needed an energetic and powerful yoga sesh to warrior pose my way into a better mood. Shutting my Macbook, I stomped off to the yoga shala, ready to namaste my way out of my negative funk.

I expected numerous yogis. I hoped for a challenging, momentous, sweaty sequence.

Nope.

I stormed into the wrong class and after arranging my mat on the floor, was greeted by a serene man with long, bushy grey hair and an equally long grey beard. He was wearing flowy pants.

A display of gongs, bells, and chimes were arranged behind him, and miniature Buddha statues were placed on a colorful sarong on the floor.

A small group of maybe 10 people were lounging on yoga mats, and he asked us to gather around him in a half-circle, rather than line up in rows facing the front.

Ummmm, I raised my hand. Is this Vinyasa Yoga?

“No,” the bearded man smiled my way, his kindness mildly irritating. “This is Mindful Yoga, a version of Yin Yoga where the magic of sound carries you on your journey to the present.”

Blank-faced, I stared back at him, my disappointment unhidden.

How was I going to power-yoga my agitation away in a small circle so close to tinkly, dingy-dong instruments?

“You don’t have to stay if you were expecting something different,” he said gently and finished setting up his array of tuning forks.

I’m pretty sure I flopped forward over my mat. I might have rolled my eyes. Whatever.

Pause.

My job on these retreats is to create, support, and share. My purpose is to pave the way for others to experience connectedness, fullness, and to unearth a truer version of themselves. This has been my role all my life, whether as a teacher, a friend, a traveler, or a business owner.

I was tired and under-slept due to all the magic-making. My intention was to yoga my way into a more positive mood and an I got this, boss mode frame of mind. But I failed to check the class schedule.

For the first time, I was co-hosting with another experienced and inspiring leadership coach. Our retreat was populated by engaging and diverse professionals who quickly transformed from strangers to a friendly and connected community. So far, our retreat had been going fantastically well and exceeding our expectations.

We moved through our days comfortably within a luxurious yoga sanctuary. In tropical Costa Rica, we were surrounded by lush jungle and stunning beaches, eating clean, fresh, healthy food. Magic was happening. My group was growing, learning, indulging. I had every reason to be over the moon—and I was.

But sometimes, no matter where we are in our journeys, our glory days can still frustrate us in some way, even when we’re moving in the right direction, and all the stars have aligned for success. We still can get a little sh*tty over glitchy technology.

Well, I must be here for a reason, I said. I decided to stay on my mat and go with the flow.

And so, I found myself lying on the floor, engaging in slow spinal twist poses with a pillow between my knees, while the bearded man in flowy pants jingled bells around my head. For an hour.

Slow pose by slow pose, gong by gong, I found myself feeling a little more zen.

Even though I had closed my eyes to stubbornly disengage with the bearded man and the others in the class and sit low and moody (totally un-yogi-like), I found myself calming down with each posture, surrendering, retreating inward, and just being.

By the end of the session, I was completely at peace. I wasn’t agitated anymore. Turns out, a mindful yoga, healing sound journey was exactly what I needed.

While mood-transforming experiences such as healing sound journeys (or yoga, or sunset beach walks) might seem a little hippy-dippy to some, they are an essential element to benefiting from any retreat we take when it comes to positioning the mind, body, and soul into a place of renewal.

This beautiful, unplanned experience supported my intention, and ultimately helped me create the magic I sought. It helped me to find clarity, connect with a new community, and lock back into my purpose. Even if participation was totally accidental.

Between the vibrations of sound in the air, the thunder rolling beyond the shala walls, the howling monkeys in the surrounding jungle, the exquisite dishes on which I dined, the thieving blue jays, the sacredness of the private yoga shala, and, and, and…

Between all these incredible things I discovered something wonderful: I tapped into who I truly am.

This unexpected experience was a portal and a life-changing turning point for my journey.

It was a time of trust, of openness, of letting go, of gaining strength; feeling the true connection between myself and the energy in the room.

It was full and meaningful, and an experience I took with me. All that transpired during my retreat is what release and connection genuinely feels like.

I truly felt alive.

I create these experiences for others—clear pathways for connection, ease from retreat arrival to the destination of having found purpose.

Sometimes we facilitators need to remind ourselves to receive all that we encourage others to explore.

It’s in the spaces between the experiences that we sign up for where the magic truly is found—where the seeds we plant in each session start to grow, unravel, connect, and renew.

These wholesome experiences are what make me love how accidental moments of magic, such as a sound journey, can create. They help me navigate any frustrating technology glitches—or whatever wrench gets thrown in the works—and find the clarity I need to keep going.

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author: Christy Nichols

Editor: Marisa Zocco

Image: YouTube/Couples Retreat