Final Day in Maui

My final day in Maui was bittersweet.  I tried to be in the moment and savor the feelings of peace and relaxation I had worked so hard to cultivate.  Still, with a stuffy head and a nose that wouldn’t stop running, that’s hard to do.

image

Because I felt so lousy, I decided to sleep in and make my way to the airport in a leisurely fashion, rather than racing to go to part of a class, shower, then depart.  It turned out to be the right choice for my body.  Yoga is nothing if it’s not honoring where you’re at for any given moment, regardless of what your ego wants.

image

I will surely miss this group of people (and the others not pictured).  All in all, we totaled 36, as I understand it.  I feel confident that at least some of our paths will cross again some day.

image

Goodbye, Lumeria.  Thank you for recharging my batteries and filling my well.  You are a truly special place, indeed.

Day 6 in Paradise

Following practice and lunch, I took a trip 3 – 4 miles up the road
to the city of Makawao, where I met this guy.
So quirky and adorable!

image

Makawao is a cute little town which I liked a lot.
The main street has an eclectic mix of wares and has a more artsy feel to it than Paia.

image

Then it was back home to get in bed with a book.
Unfortunately, paradise has hit a bump.
I’m getting sick.
I bought a bunch of Vitamin C yesterday to try to fend things off,
but now it’s past that point and I need to accept it’s happening.  Grrr.

image

At least it’s at the end of the trip and not the beginning.
Thank goodness!

Day 5 in Paradise

The sun is back!

image

Morning practice was a nice, steady well-rounded affair.
Whether rain or sunshine, it makes for a really sweaty morning.

image

Here is Brooke and me post savasana.

image

Following a quick shower and lunch, I went into Paia to stroll around for a bit.  Paia is a sleepy little beach town which sits about 2 1/2 miles downhill from Lumeria.  While there, I had some of the best peanut butter gelato, ever.

Evening practice was not as rigorous as usual, so that was nice.  There was a lovely focus on the cadence of the breath throughout, which I found very calming.  The yin-style class following included a lot of hamstring and hip opening, with a few twists.  All in all, another terrific day!

Day 4 in Paradise

The rains seem to have subsided but have left us dark, grey clouds as if to remind us Ana was here.

Morning practice focused on core this morning (everyone’s favorite), but Jason allowed some time for yoga-related questions first.  He’s a very knowledgeable teacher and more than once, I’ve felt as if this were a Teacher Training of sorts.  One of the best things about yoga (in my humble opinion) is that there is always more to learn.  Even if you reach a proficiency with the marcro stuff, there are an endless array of micro things to work on.  And it’s those subtle nuances that we could study forever.

After lunch, my friend Brooke took me on a mini-sightseeing tour of the area.  What a treat to have a local show me around!  First we went back to her house and I met her husband and dog (lovely, by the way).  Then we toured a few of the local beaches and saw a lava field.

image

Here is the beach we settled to go for a swim.  Can you believe there is not a soul in sight?!?!  It was like our own private oasis!  The ocean water was so warm – soothing and energizing at the same time.  I don’t remember the last time I went all the way into the ocean.  It was AWESOME!

image

After that we went back to Lumeria to take a dip in the resort’s hot tub.  While soaking, we decided to play hookey from our afternoon classes (which Jason has said we can come to any or all or none) and it was the right decision today.  Instead Brooke drove us to an awesome little sushi restaurant called Nuka (I think) where we had one of the best sushi dinners I’ve ever had.

Here is Brooke doing her best to cut out mochi dessert, which took some strength!

image

If you’ve ever thought about going on a yoga retreat but have hesitated because you don’t know anyone, I want to tell you right now to throw that excuse out the window.  Yoga people are the nicest people on the planet and there will certainly be other people traveling alone (as I did).  Once you get to your destination, it won’t be long before you have more connections and invitations than you know what to do with.  One of the very best parts of my life is the friends I have made all over the world by traveling in this way.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Day Three in Paradise (with a Hurricane)

We’ve had a lot of this…

image

image

because of this…

image

Hurricane Ana has been leisurely rolling across the islands
without any urgency whatsoever.
But has that dampened my spirits?

image

Not one bit.

Perhaps it’s due to the drought and the dry, parched earth back home, but I have enjoyed every single drop of this rain.  I’m sure it helps that it’s been an enjoyable rain though – steady and soft.  It hasn’t been a downpour, by any means, and the winds have been light, if nonexistent.  Not what I would expect with a Category 1 Hurricane, but I guess the Big Island is giving us a fair bit of protection.  All through the night I could hear the rumbling of distant thunder but it was quiet and comforting.

image

The weather is having an unexpected and profound effect on my practice.  It’s almost as if it’s another, silent instructor, working its magic in subtle and mysterious ways.

For instance, a really interesting thing happened yesterday afternoon during our advanced flow practice.  Typically, I have a relentless dialogue running in my mind that goes something like this:  “This is hard.  I’m tired.  Five hours of yoga per day is a lot.  I think I might be sore.  Or maybe I’m going to get sore and then I won’t be able to practice.  Why am I doing this?  I want to stop.  Is he crazy?  Another chaturanga???  I don’t want to!” and on and on.

But yesterday something really odd happened somewhere amidst the Surya A’s and Surya B’s.  It was like a switch in my brain flipped and the complainer part of my brain just shut up.  Maybe it finally got beaten down, but it was like the vrtti’s (fluctuations) regarding practice just ceased to be.  Of course, the chatter didn’t stop, but it was as if my mind decided to abandon its current course (for lack of effect?) and just went off to hold other dialogues and contemplate other matters.

The result was nothing short of beautiful.  It was me, my breath and the movement.  Everything working in one glorious, rhythmic harmony.  The sense of peace was so profound and deep I’m not sure I’ve ever felt anything like it on the mat before.  Or off, for that matter.  It was as if the world just faded away and I was able to function from an intuitive knowledge deep within.

This is just one of the many luxuries of giving yourself the time and space to deepen your practice, I suppose.  There is nothing like a yoga retreat with a quality instructor to help you access parts of yourself that typically remain hidden and obscure.  Again, I feel so incredibly grateful and blessed to be here.

Day Two in Paradise

Lumeria is filled with beauty.

image

I feel so lucky to be here.

Yesterday was as perfect as a day can get.  Morning practice focused on variations of Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose).  The rain fell softly outside and lent a really quite, hushed, focused quality to the time on the mat.  As always, the air was thick with humidity and heat, but it’s making for a great degree of openness in my body.  Besides, if you’re going to be sweaty, you might as well be all in, right?

Here’s a look at the shala where we practice…

image

And a peek at the inside…

image

I place my mat in front to take advantage of those windows!
During my Sun Salutations and other postures, my dristi is on the lush, green field beyond
and, of course, the rain.

image

Evening practice was a sweaty flow followed by a lovely deep Yin-style class with hip opening.

For dinner the chef prepared an Indian-inspired meal which was absolutely delicious.  All of the food here is amazing, by the way.  It’s fresh and healthy and creative and seems like just the right fuel for this work.  I’m spoiled not having to go anywhere else to find meals.  I’ve been on retreats before where a few meals are included but not all.  This, I must say, is heaven.

Pure Luxury

One thing I’ve learned about traveling is that my body is really, really reluctant to give up its regular time zone.  I think in order to fully acclimate, I would need to be somewhere for a month before things begin to settle into a new “normal”.

image

As a result, I was wide awake this morning at 2:15 am (my regular up-an-attem time in LA).  But what happened next was pure luxury:  there was no where in the world I had to be.  NO. WHERE.  I cannot remember the last time that happened.  So I just dozed and rested and allowed my body to recharge after what has been an extremely difficult and stressful year.  Somewhere before 6 am, a rooster crowed and rain began to softly fall.  It’s warm enough to have the windows open and the moist, heavy air makes me feel alive and nourished all at the same time.  Pure luxury.

image

It’s funny because in the days and weeks leading up to this trip, I began to tell people that I would be gone.  I received more than a few, “Must be nice!” and “Wish I were you!”s, laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm.  I just don’t get that.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  It’s bothering me.  Am I supposed to dim my light and my enthusiasm just to make other people more comfortable?  I refuse to do that.

Perhaps the people who make those comments are coming from a place whereby they (wrongly) see some sort of perfection in my life that they wish they possessed?  Maybe they are projecting that version onto me in some way which makes them covet what they think I have?

I don’t know.

I do know that I struggle with my demons (both real and imagined) every single day.  I know that through the course of this past year, my husband and I have faced a series of relentless and seemingly insurmountable challenges.  I know that travel is a priority in my life and while I’m not rich by any means, I carefully tuck away whatever spare bills I might have each week to support this passion… this non-negotiable part of myself.  I know that I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown and in need of some serious repair and this trip is a way for me to put myself first for a change.  That is what I know for sure.

image

Practice last night was a beautiful sequence designed to open the shoulders, neck, and upper back after most of us had been crammed into tiny airline seats for hours.  It was delicious and I felt surprisingly strong and grounded.  Dinner was lovely – an assortment of Hawaiian dishes served at long, communal farmhouse-style tables.

Today will be our first day of our “regular” schedule:  2 1/2 hours of practice this morning followed by another 1 1/4 hour advanced practice this afternoon, combined with 1 1/4 hours “island-style” practice.  Five hours total.  Can’t wait.

Lastly, I want to wish a very Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, my husband Steve.  It is because of your support that I am here.  Fifteen wonderful years.  As they say in “Wicked”, you have changed my life for good.