Harmony Yoga Retreat | Yelapa, Mexico

This was my first time out of the country and my first yoga retreat, so it was an amazing adventure, to say the least.

Yoga Journal Conference Midwest

Dharma Mittra, Seane Corn, Aadil Pakhilivala, Maty Ezraty, Jim Bennitt... Need I say more?

Monday, April 22

Sanctuary | Nashville, TN

We're spending our weekend in Nashville, TN with some rugby friends—rented a gorgeous house that we highly recommend. Last night was a night down on the strip hopping from music venue to music venue, always coming back to Legends Corner (definitely the best music of the night). Needless to say, I needed to balance that out a bit today and am opting for a something to sweat out the evening before. Something to fire me up and wake up the senses. Vinyasa Flow!

LOCATION: The drive from our rental was gorgeous, just around the edges of Nashville through beautiful rolling countryside homes. I'm really starting to love Tennessee and can see myself making this drive as a daily to do, for sure. Waze did it's normal job of greatness, but I do have to say, the ginormous Sanctuary Yoga sign did the trick when I came into a business-ish district and wasn't sure what would come. Free + plentiful parking.  
STUDIO: The inside was clean and modern with what I believe was an overall tone of pale purple on the walls—soothing like lavender. The front desk and merch area greeted you at the entrance. Once you walk through the hallway there are lovely changing rooms to the left and two studio spaces to the right, further back were standard public bathrooms updated with beautiful fixtures. Overall pleasing to the senses while still staying professional. $15 drop-in, credit cards accepted.
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Vinyasa Flow is Sanctuary's offering of a flowing style of yoga that seamlessly moves through the poses one breath at a time. Classes incorporate an intentional and creative blend of sun salutations and other namaskars with a full range of poses sequenced in a way that provides the foundation to cultivate inner and outer alignment, strength and flexibility, stamina and grace. Music is selected for each class that perfectly complements the flow. Join us to grow stronger, connect with your breath, and open your body, mind and heart. 
INSTRUCTOR: Laurel Walsh first discovered yoga after looking for an alternative way to manage back pain. Subsequently yoga became her physical therapy after undergoing lower back surgery. She soon realized that her practice had become a significant part of her daily life. Yoga provided Laurel with a sense of freedom not only physically but also a freedom in her mind and spirit.
CONTACT: Sanctuary

I knew I was signing myself up to sweat, but apparently (as the instructor informed me later) I chose the "sauna" section of the room. Bring. It. On. I haven't challenged myself in yoga for a really long time, and the pent up negative energy from all of life really caving in on me needed to come out... in tears, sweat, and breath. I was ready.

The flow class wasn't as vigorous as  other flow classes I've been to, possibly because it was level 1. I say this in a wonderful way, because I'm not normally attracted to flow classes, this one landed between my regular choices and a flow—just enough to kick up the heat, but not scare me off after being away from mat for so long. It was perfect.

I appreciated Laurel's direction in class from reading her bio, I felt she was protecting our backs at every step through verbal cues. There was little, if any, adjustments—but the sequence was very familiar and possibly didn't need as many adjustments in her class. Always hard for me to tell when I'm visiting new classes.

I was really excited because I did a new pose today—nothing difficult, but I was surprised I had never come across rabbit pose (sasangasana) before. Worthy of a picture of someone else so we can all share in the rabbit experience. This is what we were instructed into...

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This is what it eventually looks like, I believe (please feel free to correct me, if you know more about this): 

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She warmed us up with dolphin pose to prep for head stand. If we felt like we could try to go into headstand we could move to the wall, but no one needed to do it. Two of us went to the wall on the first try... a couple more on the second try. On the first round I went into the nicest headstand I've ever done. I should clarify, this isn't me bragging about how awesome I am. This was a much needed moment for my body + mind to remind me, "You're strong, you're balanced, you're focused... and you can handle this." Yoga has a beautiful way of humbling you when your ego is way too big and encouraging you when you feel oh so small. I needed the reminder today, and was incredibly grateful for it.

Before the second round of headstand Laurel did a quick demo of where the strength comes from—she floated only halfway up and just held it there. Explaining that before you go up into the headstand you inch your feet towards your face and at some point the weight shifts and your legs just want to go up. It's true! Or at least it was a great verbal cue for me to use for activating the right muscles.

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After a couple headstands it was time to cool down—where did the time go? Laurel walked around placing eye pillows on those who wanted one (sign me up!) and quietly my body thanked me for a much needed weekend—of not only flow yoga but quality time with friends in a beautiful part of Nashville, TN.