I signed up for a one-day yoga retreat in January of this year because it was on my vision board.
Little did I know then how much my life would change in the months that followed, but I am so thankful that I decided to sign up all that time ago. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe more, but the timing of the retreat could not have been more perfect.
As I’m taking the time to figure out how I want to approach my second life, I find myself in unexpected conversations. And more importantly, I find myself very open to the directions these conversations take. And this spirit of openness carried over to the yoga retreat which allowed me to experience the day without the judgement I would normally have for things that are so woo-woo (even though I voluntarily signed up for it)
The BeaYOUtiful Yoga retreat was hosted by Lauren Plagens Young of 3 Sisters Yoga with special guest Dr. Cameron Plagens, doctorate level psychotherapist and reiki master. Full disclosure, she’s also mom to the 3 Sisters :)
The retreat was a 9 am - 4:30 pm event in Vermilion Ohio, a 45 minute drive from downtown Cleveland. Most of the other attendees (10 women + Lauren and Cameron) practice at 3 Sisters, and some of them are friends. I went solo, and I think that was really helpful for my first experience because I could go through the day without anyone knowing anything about me except what I shared with them (with the exception of one attendee who I know from this blog and social media).
The day kicked off with Dr. Plagens sageing the room and us - sage is believed to clean our sacred space and is a very popular way of cleaning crystals too. Introductions followed and then we were walked through the agenda for the day. We were also encouraged to pull cards from one of several decks. I picked from the Kuan Yin Oracle which is a super interesting deck with beautiful artwork and messages specifically designed to help you recognize the goddess within.
Outdoor yoga followed. This was a more gentle yoga, focused on twists and heart openings, very few chaturangas and they were all optional. It was a great way to get warm and focused without getting sweaty and exhausted. Very relaxing.
After that we had about an hour and a half of free time to do whatever we pleased - most of us walked down to the beach to hang out by the lake. A few of us started chatting and others collected rocks. We had been previously instructed to take photos of things in nature that inspired us, so some people (myself included) took the time to connect back into the real world for a little bit.
It started to rain a little, so we headed back to the cottage for lunch. Lunch was a simple salad and vegetable soup - everything was optional vegan/vegetarian/gluten free depending on what toppings you chose. I stuck with the soup because it was SO good!! There were also chips on hand for anyone who needed a salty snack.
After lunch, we practiced some Kundalini yoga, which is not at all like the Vinyasa yoga I’m used to. This involved chanting. I don’t chant. We were given the option to not chant, however, in the spirit of openness and being non - judgmental, I decided to go with it. It was 20-ish minutes of chanting - I didn’t hate it, and although there was something peaceful about it, I don’t need to do it again. I prefer my mantra chanting to be silent and internal.
A little bit of open time followed the Kundalini yoga, and then we got together to chat about how we were feeling so far into the day, pull some more cards, and generally share more about why we were there.
After that, Dr. Plagens led us in some reiki-esque healing rituals. We partnered up and practiced on each other, and this was the most powerful part of the retreat experience for me. At one point, my partner Jess and I stood across each other, with our hands placed on each other’s hearts, looking straight into each other’s eyes. It was so awkward and uncomfortable at first, but as I got over my own weirdness, I started to sense a repetitive message “Everything will be ok” - the timing could not have been more perfect both for where I was in the moment, but also with where I am in my life right now. I’m a very confident person, so being vulnerable is very uncomfortable for me - it’s just not something that I have a whole lot of experience with, and to put that side of myself out there in front of a group of complete strangers was simultaneously uncomfortable and freeing.
We got together again to share what the healing rituals felt like and we spent some time talking about our own self-care practices, and the retreat was closed with a spiritual prayer. And then we packed up and headed out on our own way.
So what did I think? I absolutely loved it and would 100% do it again. It was deeply spiritual and heavily influenced by Native American and Indian cultures, but it was not religious at all. Was it uncomfortable to be so vulnerable? Yes. Was it awkward? Yes. Do I feel incredibly grounded and calm days later. YES!
It was the first time I’ve gone into something that I had a 50-50 chance of hating with such an open mind, and that made all the difference in how I approached the day and what I took out of the experience. And I thank my January self for somehow knowing that I would need this retreat down the road and booking my spot.
Sometimes your intuition and the Universe conspire to give you exactly what you need when you need it.
I’m definitely in the market for more yoga retreats, so if you know of one coming up, please leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram! Also, if you have any more questions about my retreat experience, drop me a comment either here or on Facebook or Instagram and I will be happy to offer more details!