“When I want to say what’s really in my heart, I write.”
How do you thank someone who has taken you from mimicry to Muktasana, from simple stretches to Salamba Sirasana, and from child’s play to Chaturanga Dandasana? It isn’t easy, but I am compelled to express how extraordinary my very first yoga retreat taught by Dustin Brown from Warrior One Yoga actually was! This writing has long been in the making, and it is my humble, albeit delayed attempt to express the greatness of that experience in just three little words, “Please, Yes, and Thanks”!
But first, a little background. Almost a year ago from this writing, I asked the Universe to send me on a yoga journey IN ENGLISH. That’s because as a current resident of Japan, all of my yoga learning has been conducted in that language, which I don’t actually know! That is, I cannot read, write or speak Japanese! I do LISTEN very well, and I know all about the language learning method called TPR (Total Physical Response), but those have been the only abilities I could call upon in my current situation. However, my wish was to be able to learn more deeply about yoga in my native language, and during a particular Japanese holiday called “Golden Week”, which occurs in the month of May.
“What ensued next encapsulated the essence of my best yogic experience to date.”
Unfortunately, it turned out that there was not enough time to book or to participate in such a venture. So, I continued to take my daily classes at Lava Hot Yoga Studio here in my “Japanese hometown” (Hirakata) until I found the answer. It wasn’t long before Glomad Yoga posted an invitation on Instagram to join an 8-day yoga retreat in Thailand in the middle of August — my only month off during Summer break. And thus, my own personal “Golden Week” would begin!
As I waited to depart for the island of Koh Samui, I prayed to GOMU (God Of My Understanding) using that omnipresent word in the English language — please. I prayed, “Please let this retreat meet my needs. Please let me be able to ‘keep up’ (and maybe even advance my ‘beginner’s practice’). Please let me fit in, even though I was sure I would be one of, if not THE, oldest of the participants. Please let the accommodations, food, scenery and activities be pleasing. And please let my non-yogi husband be pleased with my so-called vacation plan.”
The answer to all these polite requests was a resounding YES!
Not only did it meet my English needs, Dustin threw in two more languages — Sanskrit and Anatomical terms — to give me a crash course in “yogian”. Or is it “yogish”? 😉 Whatever you call it, his language was always imbued with passion, generosity and devotion. So, YES, you could say that I am now a “multilingual” yoga practitioner!
Was I able to keep up? You know it, baby! For our group of 10 participants, Dustin offered every ability-level option for every pose in every session. I could modify any movement necessary and take my time to find and feel any position. Did I opt in for these variations? YES, of course, and because of that, I expanded my foundation and basic skills.
As a beginner in hope of “advancing” and “fitting in”, I craved any opportunity to “go with the flow”, “vibe with the tribe”, “hang with the gang”…well, you get my drift. So when Dustin and Nova (his lovely partner in life & business) invited us to join them for “Acro Yoga” on the beach at sunrise, as well as some other midday workshops in this “paired” yoga practice, I gave them my good ol’ American, “Hell YEAH!” That was before I realized that this was not just working with a partner to perfect poses; this kind of yoga included flying, suspended inversions, building body towers, defying gravity! As I stood in the sand watching the more experienced tribe members elegantly engineer themselves into the most exquisite silhouettes against the rising sun, I heard Dustin say, “you wanna try?”. Three little words to which I gave a big three-letter response — YES! What ensued next encapsulated the essence of my best yogic experience to date. It had my spirit “flying”, my mind “suspended”, and my body “defying” any old fogey-yogi’s physicality.
Were the accommodations, food, scenery and activities pleasing? No. They were AMAZING! In fact, the word “amazing” became our mantra, as we seemed to chant it at every instance of awe, which were countless. Even with the national diversity of the tribe, this one-word, accented-utterance was universally understood to mean “YES” to everything we were taking in. It was whispered between bungalow balconies as we stood motionless, waiting to capture the first glorious glimpse of each new day. It was proclaimed as we perused the bountiful breakfast & dinner buffets. It was cheered as we practiced, performed and perfected new poses. It was trumpeted at the sights and sounds of the island excursions. And it was choked out as a heartfelt sentiment in our closing community circle. So now, let it be echoed one more time, with my best Melbourne accent — everything and everyone at the Warrior One Yoga Retreat was “ah-mai-zing”! YES, it was.
As the planner of all our “family vacations”, I have always tried to be considerate of my husband’s interests, while ensuring that my hunger for unique experiences can be satiated. Usually, there are only a few criteria that I need to provide for him — a beach, some booze, and me beside him. When booking this yoga retreat, I worried a bit about whether I could come through with all of these things, and if he would feel like this was really a vacation for two. So, I voiced my concerns in copious amounts of correspondence with Nova, who sweetly, sensitively and speedily reassured me that there was close access to a beach, that the resort did indeed have alcohol, and that there was plenty of free time to explore the island or just relax together in our cozy cottage overlooking the sea. She also sincerely invited and encouraged me to have my husband (Peyton) join the group in any way suitable to him. YES! With all provisions in place, I could pitch my plan to Peyton, and pray for a positive reply. My prayers were answered, and Peyton was warmly welcomed, integrated and endeared by all of the “retreaters”. That’s what being a “yes man” can do for you. 😉
My feeling of gratitude is so overwhelmingly huge that it has taken me 5 months to make good on those words I choked on, and croaked out during the closing ceremony, “…when I want to say what’s really in my heart, I write.” So, here it is — my thank you note, my letter of affirmations, my journal of joy, my message of indebtedness, my blubbering blog post of personal prayers, abundant appreciation, and my deepest gratitude for Warrior One Yoga. Thank you for treating me and “retreating” me with your special brand of tribal love!