“Mother Nature is the great equalizer. You can’t get away from it.”

Christopher Heyerdahl

Imagine getting ready for a long summer weekend of “glamping” and yoga at a riverside ranch in North Carolina. Sounds like heaven, right? Now imagine rain in the forecast. Not just a sprinkle or a shower, but buckets and buckets of rain EVERY. DAY. What would 20 Flowgis do, out on a ranch in North Carolina, under those circumstances? Go with it, of course! Here are some of the things I learned while on Flow’s Carolina River Ranch retreat.

Meeting new people is FUN!

The weather has a funny way of connecting us and giving us something to talk about. You may start off not knowing anyone in a group of 20, but give us a downpour and we’ll all become fast friends. From weather predictions, you’ll shift to getting to know one another better. Add in some beer, wine, and a campfire and it’s like we’ve known each other for years! One of the beauties of this retreat is that our group was made up of people who ranged in age from younger to older, those who were die-hard yogis and those who weren’t, people of varying backgrounds and professions, and none of it mattered. I feel confident saying that we all connected during our time at the retreat and got to learn so much more about the community we practice with.

Sometimes it’s ok to be uncomfortable.

This experience reminded me a lot of settling into a pose like pigeon or frog for an extended period of time. At first, your body may be a bit resistant to its new shape and all you can think is, “When is this pose going to be over?” But then you begin to focus on your breath. As you lean in and just breath, your mind slowly begins to wander out of discomfort and into calm concentration, awareness, and sometimes, even relaxation. Yoga teaches us that we can always come back to our breath, come back to our awareness, lean in and focus on what you can control—your mind, your attitude, your perspective. And once we come out of our pose or our experience, we might even find that we learned something in the process.

Being uncomfortable can also help us to be more grateful for the things we often take for granted—like sunshine. There were stretches of time every day when the sun did come out and we took full advantage of it by visiting the local falls, hiking various trails, and exploring the town.

Take time to disconnect.

Chris Oemler suggested that we really try to disconnect from our phones during the retreat and check in only once or twice a day. I took her suggestion to heart and left my charger in my suitcase for the duration of the trip. I decided to charge and check my phone only when we were in the car, driving to and from one hiking spot or the next. That way, I wouldn’t be tempted to reach for it needlessly. It worked! In fact, I didn’t even miss it. I woke up when my body was rested and ready and went to sleep without first scrolling through social media or reading the latest news. It was quite liberating to get away from something that can sometimes feel like a necessary ball and chain.

Yogis will practice ANYWHERE.

Literally. In a tent, on a piece of plywood, in a forest, on the beach, on top of a mountain, under a bridge, on a farm, with goats, in the rain, in the snow, in the sun. You name it, it’ll be done. Seriously. Anywhere, anytime.

If I can close by just sharing one big piece of what I learned from our time at the retreat, I’ll leave you with the biggest impression I came away with, which is this: We practice within a really warm, loving, open community of people. People who aren’t afraid to be themselves and people who aren’t afraid of you just being you. We are all lucky to have each other.

— Michele Novy


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