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934154_10100934878542716_824618607_nThe idea of recapping my recent yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico is daunting. How do I even begin to capture it?

There was yoga everyday and beautiful whole foods (mostly vegan) and unbelievably pristine beaches where you could plop yourself down on the sand and meditate on the vastness of the universe.

There were also oceanside hammocks where you could spend the afternoon in blissful semi-consciousness while rarely clothed, joyful people frolicked in the blue-green waves. We played with Synergy and swam in caves and visited the Mayan ruins.

We also practiced Bikram yoga every morning. We sucked in our bellies and locked our knees and did our 80/20 breathing. Francisco and Esak (lovingly) picked on us and challenged us and cheered us on.

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The palapa where we practiced yoga every day

We did yoga in a palapa, outside, so the temperature was much chillier than us Bikram yogis are used to. Without the heat and without the mirrors, my familiar 26+2 yoga practice was transformed into something very different. It forced even more presence and acceptance. Backbends were not as deep, but grips were stronger. The heat didn’t exhaust me, but it also didn’t allow for the nice, sweaty sliding of legs in eagle pose. Without being able to see my alignment in the mirror, I just had to feel it, I had to tune into my body more and connect on a deeper level.

It wasn’t better or worse than a regular practice. It just was.

But the most significant part of the retreat for me, was the thing that I find most significant about Bikram yoga in general – the sense of community.

I’m really shy. I’m incredibly introverted and somewhat socially awkward, though I’m getting a little better. I was nervous about a “group vacation” with group meals and group excursions and just so damn much togetherness.

But it was such joy to meet this group of yogis. What fun it was to sit around at dinner and geek out on the nuances of spinal alignment and quad strength. How wonderful to share our passion and learn about studios in other parts of the world. What a great feeling to come home and have 20 new yogi friends.

Big pile of yogis

Big pile of yogis

We were students, teachers and studio owners. Some of us had been practicing for decades, others had discovered the practice just six months ago. But we were all bonded by this love of yoga. We shared stories of how the hot room had healed our broken backs and broken hearts. It was a pretty special thing.

I think I’m still processing this retreat, so expect more stories to come. I HAVE to tell you guys about the sweat lodge…

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