I recently returned from a yoga retreat in Molokai, a small island in Hawaii, with over 30 other like-minded people from my yoga community. While every second of the retreat was incredible, there are a few main takeaways I had from the trip that can be applied to life after a retreat. Now that I’m back living in “the real world,” here are a few of the ways that my first yoga retreat changed me forever:
- I connected with my long-lost tribe.
From the moment I arrived on the island, I felt like I already knew every single person that I interacted with. It was as if we’d been friends for years, and were just now reuniting. During the retreat, we shared deep stuff – our fears, our limitations, our dreams, our purpose – even if it was at times unspoken. I started to understand how truly connected we all are. How we’re all made up of the same stuff inside. And I got a first-hand view of the meaning behind “your vibe attracts your tribe.” ❤
- By unplugging from technology, I was able to tune in to my surroundings.
There’s a certain kind of bliss that comes with having no cell phone service, but unfortunately, that’s actually pretty unusual nowadays. The ranch where we were staying had very spotty reception, so I had just enough coverage to make short phone calls to check in with my family, but that was about it. No scrolling through Facebook, limited access to Instagram – what’s a girl to do?! By being limited from constantly being on my phone, I was able to experience my surroundings and remain 100% present. I wasn’t thinking about how to portray my experiences on social media. I wasn’t worried about updating my friends on my whereabouts. I was truly engaged with what was happening around me.
- I was introduced to a deeply spiritual place.
Molokai is a small island, but a powerful one. It’s not a tourist destination. There are no stoplights, just one high school, and minimal traffic — the hustle and bustle of modern day city life simply doesn’t exist there. When we first arrived, a local storeowner told us about the power of prayer and intention found on the island, as well as the deep-rooted ancestral spirits. She advised that we visit the ocean and take time to thank those who came before us, and to set an intention of what we would experience during the week. We also hiked into Halawa Valley to one of the island’s most sacred waterfalls – a place where I could literally feel the transformative powers of something bigger, something beyond all of us there together. The island opened me up to feeling something pure and powerful, something that connects all of us.
- It put me out of context.
By stepping outside of my routine at home and going on a yoga retreat, I was allowing myself to see my life from an outside perspective. I started to look at my past wounds from a new viewpoint, and I was able to release some very deep-rooted pain that I’ve been holding on to for years. I questioned my purpose from a new sense of curiosity and compassion. I evaluated my relationships and my personal and spiritual development. I understood truths on a new level than I did before. It opened me up to a world of possibility that wouldn’t have been visible had I remained in the safety of my day-to-day life.
- I learned to “go with the flow” in more ways than just in vinyasa.
I flew to Hawaii as a standby passenger, which, if you’ve flown standby you’ll know, can be one of the most stressful ways to travel. There was no guarantee I’d make the flights I needed to catch in order to arrive on time. We had to sleep on the floor of the LAX airport in order to make the first flight out to Maui. Plans changed at the last minute, and all attachments to outcomes had to be given up. I had to completely surrender and trust that what was meant to happen, would happen… and that worrying about the situation would cause nothing but suffering, so why waste the energy?
- I remembered that home isn’t a place, but a feeling.
I had never stepped foot on the island of Molokai before, and I’d never been to Hawaii in my life. But from the second I arrived, I felt totally welcome and at home. It reminded me of a lesson I learned during my travels a couple years ago – that feeling at home is a way of life, and not always a set location on a map.
- I felt the effects of committing to clean eating.
Almost everything we ate during our time in Molokai was locally grown ingredients from the ranch, from lettuce to organic honey to grass-fed beef. At the end of the trip, I felt fulfilled and healthier than I’ve felt in a long time. I try to eat clean at home, but it’s easy to let yourself slip up. After several days of eating nothing but farm-to-table ingredients, I started to truly feel the effects of this type of diet: more energy throughout the day, better quality sleep at night, and a better mood overall.
- I let myself crack open.
Stuff rose to the surface. Some deep, dark stuff that I’d been holding onto for years and years and years. Because of the safe space we had created together, I was able to let this darkness rise up and spill out, in a supported environment. By doing so, I felt lighter than I had in years.
- I stood up to my fears.
I’m not a good swimmer, but when we hiked into one of Hawaii’s most sacred waterfalls, I was one of the first to jump in to the pool of water. Being on a yoga retreat seemed to allow me to give myself permission to do things that I might not do at home because of fear. It felt so damn good to break through and face my fears, one by one. I kicked into handstands, I tried new arm balances and adjustments, I laughed at a huge spider we found right near my room (yikes). I let myself remember that fear and excitement are two expressions of the same emotion, and I embraced that which would normally freak me out in order to experience more life.
- I saw that family could be found anywhere.
When we first arrived to Molokai, a local shop owner helped us get to the beach. A bus driver gave us a gift for our travels. The staff at the ranch welcomed us warmly and wholeheartedly. Throughout my time in Molokai, I remembered that family isn’t just about the people we’re tied to by blood. Family and true connection is something that we can create through acts of love and compassion to others. I have this island and the people I met along the way to thank for that.