Monday, February 17, 2014

Yoga Retreat

Last weekend, Feb 7-9, my mom and I went to a yoga retreat and it was absolutely wonderful, overall.  I'll tell you a little about it and then completely overload you with pictures.

It was at the Musgrove Plantation on St. Simon's Island, Georgia.  The Plantation was built in the 20's and 30's, and people such as President Carter have stayed there.  For the most part, though, it's been kept to family-only events and more recently they've opened it up to weddings.  To have our yoga retreat there was a great honor, and Nicole, the granddaughter of the original owners, was there with us as well.  There were probably no more than 10 of us total, and then two teachers from Savannah Power Yoga (SPY) where I go for my yoga.

Mom picked me up Friday morning around 7:30, and we had about a two hour drive to get there.  From there, this was basically our schedule:

10 a.m. - Practice
11:30 - Meet & Greet
Noon - Lunch
2 p.m. - Inquiry/Journaling
3 - Practice/Meditation
5 - Free Time
6 - Cocktails
7 - Dinner

7:30 a.m. - Breakfast
9 - Meditation
9:30 - Practice
Noon - Lunch
2 p.m. - Transformational Breath Session
4 - Practice (Restorative)
6 - Cocktails
7 - Dinner
9 - Fireside Inquiry

7 a.m. - Meditation
7:30 - Breakfast
9:30 - Practice
11:30 - Waterside Inquiry
Noon - Lunch
2 p.m. - Transformational Breath

The fireside inquiry didn't happen, and Sunday morning's meditation was a walking meditation at 9 a.m. instead.  Mom and I participated in everything Friday and Saturday, and Sunday we just had breakfast and then went home.  I had been feeling off all weekend, and was too sore to do another practice anyway, so it made the most sense. I also didn't do practice after the breathing session, but I'll get to that later.

A few overall thoughts - it was absolutely wonderful to be able to get away for a weekend and only have to worry about yoga and eating.  It was slightly too much yoga for me all at once, so I was pretty sore, but I pushed through what I could.  This is power yoga, and they heated it the best they could.  It wasn't quite as hot as in the studio, but I still worked up a really good sweat each time.  We tried some new things that don't work in a classroom setting, but we could do due to the setting.  But, overall yoga is yoga, so I won't go into specifics unless anyone wants to talk about them =)

The most revelational activity of the weekend was the Transformational Breath Session.  It's called Effigy Breath and is based on holotropic breathing.  Essentially, you're doing focused breathing of an hour, but you don't breathe as normal.  You sharply (but fully) inhale, then let the exhale happen on its own.  The inhale is like when you take in a deep breath when you're startled.  Kate, one of the instructors, was telling us about different things she'd experienced during breathing.  I, of course, went "Oh, people just think these things happen, they aren't real".  But how wrong I was!  For the first few minutes, it was just kind of annoying to breath that way.  Then my nose went numb and my face got tingly, like when I drink too much.

From there is where it got more weird.  Apparently, the hands, feet, and mouth are the exit points of the body for energy.  The oxygen moving in and out of us more than normal stimulates energy moving in the body.  Kate warned us that our hands and feet may close involuntarily to stop the flow of energy.  After the first few minutes, I felt that it would have been easier to close my hands as opposed to leaving them resting how they were.  They were tingling like crazy, and when I tried to spread them out to get rid of the tingling I almost couldn't open my hands all the way.  Then, my arms felt like they were being attached to the ground by magnets, and I could barely get them off of the ground.  They also started moving further away from my body.  I should add that I apparently had one of the two most physical reactions to the breath.  I also developed a feeling on my fingertips that a very strong stream of water was moving in small circles around them.

After the hour of breathing, Kate had us lay there and "just be" for about 15 minutes.  I tried to breathe through my nose but my mouth literally would not close and was extremely tight.  Eventually I started breathing through my nose and don't remember it, but when I "woke up" I was breathing through my nose again.  During that fifteen minutes, the only things I really remember were almost breaking out bawling in tears, but at the same time having no emotions or thoughts in my mind, and also at two points having feelings of sheer panic and having to open my eyes and orient myself.  Even after breathing normally for 15 or so minutes, my pinky and ring fingers and the sides of my face were still tingling.  My hands and forearms were sore from the muscles being so tight.  It was an extremely strange experience, and I skipped practice after that because I was shaky and still trying to process everything.  I don't know if it's something I would do again, but it was certainly interesting to do once.

If anyone has specific questions, I'd be glad to answer them, but the breathing definitely stuck out most in my mind.  And now, I'm going to unload a bunch of pictures on you!

Do you practice yoga?  Have you ever done a retreat?



  1. Wow, that yoga session sounds like it was really intense! It's funny you mention yoga makes you feel tingly like when you drink too much, because I have noticed that when I do yoga, I get that same feeling! I wasn't sure if that was a normal thing or not, so I'm glad I'm not the only one lol :0)

    I've never done a yoga retreat before, but have always been intrigued by the idea. I think I'd like to do a retreat that mixes up cardio and yoga, someday!

    1. Thankfully we were just doing breathing for that, we didn't do yoga during it!

      That's why I love hot yoga, because it still gets my heart rate up pretty good but I still get the yoga benefits!

  2. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend with your mom! I do the recovery for runners yoga but it seems much different than what you are describing you did. That sounds intense!

    1. It was pretty intense! Hot/bikram yoga is in general. I've actually never done recovery yoga, but I should probably start!