I’d never gone on a yoga retreat before last weekend. I remember a few years ago I was debating on coming up to the same farm for a similar yoga retreat with one of my favorite teachers at the time and I decided that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, spend the money. This time around I’m a little better off and it was pretty cheap as far as weekend yoga retreats go (they’re sometimes thousands of dollars???) so I signed up as I found out that one of my current favorite teachers, Chrissy Carter, was teaching up at a spot called Heathen Hill over the last weekend in the Catskills.
I’ve never been much of a nature person (the one time I tried camping I was bit by a deer tick and got limes disease) but I was willing to give this a shot because I wouldn’t necessarily have to be out in nature. I wouldn’t have to hike or go in a canoe. I could read and journal in between yoga classes and have that be that.
There’s also incredibly limited cell reception up there. You have to walk to the top of a hill about 8 minutes away to get, at best, spotty service. I was nervous about that but Justin was watching the catch for one night and then my mom wanted to hang out in the city, so she took over the second night. Still. No cell service?! AH.
I carpooled it up there with three lovely women – two of whom were yoga teachers themselves – and we had a fun time, despite getting lost in northern Jersey and the traffic heading up there that made us miss the Friday evening class. It was what it was. We were able to relax into our rooms and walk amongst the chickens instead.
The food was farm fresh, mostly vegan, but all at least was vegetarian. The only time we had meat was at brunch on Sunday. There was even cauliflower flatbread. We all freaked out over it. There were also the farm fresh snap peas and homemade dill dip which was to die for. And the homemade ice cream? And the homemade asian coleslaw? Dead.
Chrissy kept talking reiterating during her dharma talks in class about creating space in our lives for stillness and that we all had space that weekend to do whatever we wanted. There was no internet or cell phone service, or work commitments that we had to take care of. We were here for self-care purposes. She talked about not having to rush from one thing to another because there was no place to be. We had permission to stop pretending to be busy. She said we could stop and truly find out what we needed at that moment, and maybe in our lives going forward.
She told us that one thing she wanted us to take away from this weekend was the ability to create that space for ourselves even when we were back in the city again with a million things to do when it seems like we have no time (from that bad habit we Americans have of having to make ourselves appear busy when we never really are).
It was incredibly liberating to have nothing to do, as well as incredibly frustrating. I have all of this time and nothing to do.. oh my goodness. I could read, or write, or take a walk, or go hang out with my fellow yogis, or meditate, or try to pick up one of the chickens, or pet the owner’s cats.
What did I end up doing? I read Elie Wiesle’s Night. I journaled a lot. I spent about 5 minutes down by the watering hole before deciding that the bugs were just not for me. I watched the sunrise on both days. I meditated. I met a lot of awesome people. I made s’mores by the campfire. I ate delicious food fresh from the farm, and I slept really well. I also drank some wine.
I really felt like not talking during the weekend. I started wishing it was a silent retreat on the first day. I balanced out my alone time with the time that I spent with my fellow yogis. Also: no one talked about politics. Score.
There were several women – in their late 30′s and 40′s – who also wanted nothing to do with having kids. Oh, what’s that? You have a completely fulfilling life without having to devote it to raising human larve? You’re my heros. #vindication
I never did catch a chicken, but my new friends did place a chickens in my arms not just once, but twice. Those guys are so cute!
By the time Sunday brunch was finished, I was ready to head back to the city. Fresh and clear-minded this time. I’d had my fill of nature for now.
i’ll definitely do this again. I’m not sure when but sometime soon.