A question I am often asked as a yoga retreat leader is, “How do you decide on where your next yoga retreat will be?” Of course, it is exciting to travel to new places that I have never been before, but more importantly it broadens my perspective and offers valuable lessons. In my role as a yoga teacher, experiencing different cultures reinforces what yoga means, "to yoke" or "connect." My students and I get to see first-hand that even if there are cultural differences, deep down inside we are connected because we are the same. We forget this.
I was born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles. So, for most of my life, aside from a year of college in New York, I have always lived and worked in the bubble of the South Bay. If you are from Los Angeles, you know for traffic reasons that you probably don’t venture outside of your bubble often. Because of this, we can become desensitized to the world around us.
I am finally settled back in my bubble after nearly 3 weeks in Greece. For the first half of my trip my fiancé and I explored Athens, Mykonos and Santorini. The last 8 days were spent on the island of Amorgos where I lead my yoga retreat. In this time, I learned several things about the customs and culture. The plumbing system isn’t as advanced as in the U.S. Let’s just say that you can’t flush toilet paper in the toilet. The people say, “no problem at all,” even if it might be big problem. And according to our tour guide, the sharks are vegetarian. But jokes aside, traveling to Greece reinforced why I lead yoga retreats in the first place. By trying different foods, exploring a new culture, meeting new people, and experiencing new sights, we expand our perspective.
On one of the guided tours with my retreat group, we went to a monastery called Agios Georgios Valsamitis. The nun who lives there opened her home to us and even served homemade cake. She was an interesting woman who had a family and children in Athens and decided to stay on Amorgos and inhabit that monastery after visiting the island on vacation. She has been living in the monastery as a nun for 9 years. Prior to her the last nun to live there died in the 19th century. As she explained the history and art of the monastery she left us with a few words. She said that animals in the world kill to survive, but that humans can kill for much worse. So, she asked us to pray for peace in the world. This brought tears to my eyes and opened my heart to the idea of praying even though it is not something I normally do.
After traveling halfway around the world to the small island of Amorgos with a population of only 2,000. A nun living in her own bubble (the monastery) reminded us that no matter where you come from, what you do or where you live, we all ultimately want the same things. To be happy, healthy, safe, and free. This is a learning lesson we can all be reminded of.
After my wedding in August I am heading off to another retreat. This time in Bali, Indonesia, part of the world that I have never been to. Another culture to experience and new people to meet and make connections with. That is why I am calling it Bali Yoga and Culture Retreat. Perhaps this retreat is the perfect way to get out of your bubble and reinforce your yoga practice through the educational experience of travel and cultural immersion.
Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.