Prepping for a 10-day yoga retreat called Summer Solstice has me reflecting back to this time last year when I was doing the same thing, except that I was also preparing for a move to Colorado. Life was very chaotic for me and the role that Summer Solstice played in my life last year was extremely important. The Prep
Last year's Summer Solstice came in the midst of a huge transition in my life. I had decided to leave California and move to Colorado. My two roommates and I were all planning on attending Solstice and all had huge adventures to partake in afterwards. We all agreed that the retreat would be a perfect transition point for us. The months leading up to it were quite hectic busting my ass to make extra money, tying loose ends, and packing up my life. Our household was a roller coaster of emotions with lots of highs and lots of lows.
This was the state of our house the NIGHT BEFORE we left!
From that to this in one day, was a flippin' miracle!
Once we were in the car, all of our stress started to melt away into excitement.
Now we could enjoy an epic road trip and an amazing yoga retreat. It wasn't just us anymore either, we caravanned with two other vehicles putting our total to 9 adult yogis and one baby yogi. We all met up at our first hot spring in California for some soaking and camping.
Our Yogi family
The kids (band photo)
Never in my life have I felt more like a hippy and I absolutely loved it.
We camped under the stars (sometimes just on the side of the road), swam naked in rivers, found every hot spring we could, pooled our money together to buy food, picnicked in local parks, and went everywhere we wanted to go, ending on a mountain in New Mexico for the retreat.
This experience was amazing and challenging and life changing. Summer Solstice is a special event. You come together with a community of people that are compassionate, giving, and self-reflective to practice together, learn, meditate, and to help each other reach new heights.
The retreat is based off of the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. He was one of the first to teach the secretive Kundalini Yoga to the public in response to the hippies of the 60s and 70s seeking spiritual fulfillment using drugs. He knew that Kundalini Yoga would give them the same experience of reaching a higher consciousness while also healing their nervous system from the damage of drug use. Kundalini Yoga is an intense practice that matches unique breathing techniques with movement to create a feeling of bliss, connectedness, and clarity.
Based on his teachings the goals of Summer Solstice are to be "happy, healthy, and holy."
It's fun, but not easy. It requires a lot of self-reflection, discipline, and breaking down of barriers. Each morning you wake up at 3:30am to participate in Sadhana, a mix of yoga, meditation, and prayer. Yes, I said 3:30am!
The rest of the day is spent participating in service (I was a veggie chopper!), attending classes, workshops, and lectures, and participating in special events. Any spare time is spent reflecting, hanging with friends, or sleeping, which is why they have sleeping tents that block out the sun and heat of a New Mexican summer.
The delicious food they serve follows the guidelines of a proper Ayurvedic diet, the yogic health principles, that leave you feeling amazing.
The most challenging and rewarding part of the retreat are the three days of 8-hour meditations done with a partner. It's intense and profound. From holding poses for an hour to holding eye contact, it's deep stuff that has you reaching depths of yourself you didn't know existed.
After over a week of nourishing your body, mind, and soul, you're left completely renewed and rejuvenated.
When I went to Solstice I chose to spend the time meditating and focusing on my future and letting go of my past and anything stopping me from pursuing my dreams. Before Solstice, I planned to move to Colorado and find a job. After Solstice, I decided to move to my hometown and that it was time to realize my dream and open a business. I attribute the changes I made in my life to the time I spent at Solstice focusing on my vision and letting go of the things holding me back. I am so grateful for that experience and what it propelled me to do.
I had a million excuses why I couldn't go to Solstice this year, so I reluctantly told my fellow yogi friends that I'd try for winter solstice. Then, about two weeks ago, I woke up with Solstice on the brain and felt this ache that I needed to go. I'm eager to see what more I can learn, discover, and let go of. That's when I realized that I shouldn't let anything hold me back from doing what feels right. I set everything in motion and in a week and a half I will be on my way to New Mexico… it's all happening! I'll keep you posted on my journey!