Retreat Beyond Belief

                    "Adopt the pace of Nature; her secret is patience." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

First of all, if you practice yoga, I highly recommend you read Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White.

I read this book four years ago and the wisdom and perspective shared propelled me to meet and learn more from the yogi author. I actually felt the Cosmic pull to learn directly from this person who spoke to my heart via the written word. I have been to the White Lotus Foundation three times since I set this passionate intention. I can honestly say, this book...this foundation...this practice of yoga...has created a beautiful ripple effect I didn't see coming. But, that's how it works...

How do you sum up a week of bliss, love, great energy and the beauty of Nature in a single blog? Here is my humble attempt.

Stepping onto sacred ground once blessed by Indians for ceremonies has an energy that permeates into the very air you breathe. Untarnished land that is lovingly cared for by letting the trees, plants and flowers grow and blossom inspires you to do the same. The sound of crickets in their nightly concert under the bright stars makes you hear music from a different perspective. The California sun rising and setting in a vast blue sky makes you see details that are easy to miss if you don't just pause and gaze. No television. No computers. No news. Some may call it a retreat from reality; but, I embrace it as my reality...for it was and still is real.

The cost of the retreat: $1800
The cost travel expenses: $1000 give or take
The uniting with like minded people: truly priceless

Learning more pearls of wisdom, experience and knowledge from Ganga and his wife, Tracey...beyond the concept of a numeric price.

What has boggled my mind is how many people have not heard of White Lotus or Ganga White and Tracey Rich when I mention them. I get it now. Both are humble and are not in the game of claiming their "way" is the right way.  The way to practice changes as you age and that is why yoga is and can be a practice of a lifetime. Change requires you to be flexible. If you want to stay fixed or static in one way, the next thing to follow is deterioration. Yoga can manifest more than physical flexibility. Probably more important is the evolving flexibility of the mind and heart. It is much more than how you strike a pose.

In the quick eight years that have passed since I started yoga, it seems a new style of yoga emerges all the time. Many have trademarked their style of yoga and have no qualms about flaunting it in some form or fashion. In an effort to remain "yogi-like", I won't mention the name...but, one individual has actually claimed his style of yoga to be the only way to practice. All other styles are an imitation. Much like appears to be branching out in different sects with different approaches. Competing for followers, each sect inserts their stake firmly in the ground to keep their place.

Unfortunately, for one to really think their way is the only way is a limited mindset. To truly understand that religion, yoga styles and anything else for that matter, is a branch of the same Tree is liberating. Nothing is set in stone. There is energy in stillness. Change breaks the glass walls we stand behind...while thinking we have seen it all. Learning something from a different perspective can change the way you think and act. We do not reach a certain age and know all the answers...ever.

Like Ganga said..."not knowing fades when the moment comes." Kind of like the 'lightbulb' turning on in the mind when you have a revelation about something. All becomes crystal clear. But, it takes time to percolate, evolve and emerge. Someone once said, "one of the highest states of intelligence is not knowing." Not knowing allows the untarnished version of your discoveries  to reveal themselves.

The Deepening Your Practice course at White Lotus is more than just learning how to do more yoga poses. Believe me, I learned a plethora of subtle changes in how to experience a single pose differently. I learned more anatomy, more breathing techniques, and practiced deeper meditation. The collective energy during each practice left me feeling literally recharged.

Each day involved a decent hike up to the main building to practice. The first few days, my heart was pounding and I wondered where my strength went. Then, on the fourth day, I made it to the top without breathing deeply for oxygen and felt like Rocky when he made it to the top of the stairs! Follow that with two two hour yoga practices a day, awesome vegetarian food, heartfelt discussions about a variety of topics and a delicious 3 hours of free time in the middle of the day. Every day sunny with deep blue skies. Paradise....and I haven't even mentioned the heart of the retreat...the fellow yogis that came to deepen their practice.

The people I met came from all walks of life and the world. My sweet yurt mate was from Switzerland and I got the opportunity to learn about life in another country. I reconnected with yogis I had met at previous retreats. It truly felt like a reunion and the gap of time between being together had vanished. I became friends with people from Canada and the states between California and New York. All of us open to learn, share and just be. Coming without specific expectations and leaving with a broadened extension of unity and awareness.

To be guided by a loving couple collectively sharing over sixty years of learning, practicing and expanding their wisdom and knowledge ignited by yoga is an experience that I never dreamed of when I started this mysterious practice of yoga. But, the Cosmos made it happen when I saw that blue book with the cool title. I never knew reading one book would literally open so many doors in my life.

Reading one book has introduced me to over 100 beautiful, unique people with talents galore in the past three years. Reading one book opened my eyes and mind to see further than before. Reading one book has inspired me to do more, be more...because I'm starting to get it.

But, I will have to keep going to White Lotus until I learn it all...and well, that could take a VERY long time.

Much gratitude to Ganga White, Tracey Rich and all the people I have been blessed to cross paths with. This yoga journey just keeps getting better beyond belief!

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