10 Awesome Reasons Why Retreats are a Healing Must!

10 Awesome Reasons Why Retreats are a Healing Must!

10 Awesome Reasons Why Retreats Are a Healing Must!

by Chantal Di Donato

Ever reached that point when everything around you is falling apart and you need a serious break?

Most of us, especially in busy cities with equally busy lives, feel that way! I hit the wall a few times a year, when I know I need to unplug completely – from my surroundings, my phone and even people around me. When we get to that point, most of us would normally say that we need a “vacation.” But is a vacation enough?

I love traveling, it is a true passion, but since I became a yoga teacher, I woke up to a great reality: vacations are not always enough! Of course, it is great fun to get away, visit terrific places around the globe, maybe even chasing the sun, but oftentimes, we select places that have so much to see and do, that by the end of the vacation, we are exhausted and need another break to recuperate from the holiday we just had!

Yoga, meditation and other holistic healing retreats are the answer when a holiday is just not enough. There is something about retreats that is very special and can really create a platform for transformation! How, you ask? Here 10 reasons why your next holiday should be a retreat:

 

 

1. It is all about ME time

 

Holidays surely mean fun, discoveries and adventures, but if you are in need to care for your wellbeing, a retreat is the only place you can get the “ME” time you deserve. The idea of a retreat is to create a safe space where you can nurture your body and soul. The atmosphere is relaxed, everything is taken care of and you really have to do nothing but enjoy the activities, surroundings, food and company (or alone time if you need that).

 

2. An opportunity to feel present

Retreats are designed to offer a comprehensive escape embedding fun with relaxation. Because the activities, classes, therapies and meals are made for you, you can enjoy being present without needing to plan anything! At most, when you have free time from classes, you can decide if you wish to visit the surroundings, cities nearby or nature, all at your own pace, without any schedule or watch to adhere to.

 

3. Allowing a break for the digestive system

 

Most retreats will offer comprehensive meals in the package and generally the idea is to have food that can boost your body’s ability to work at its best and even kick-start a little detoxification plan! You can certainly look for specific dietary requirements (like a juicing retreat) but retreats often include food that is healing and can support good digestion and even the restoration of a healthy gut!

 

4. Daily routines to calm the mind

Routine in the standard sense can be quite tiring! We see getting up, going to work and going back home as routine too, but it doesn’t make us feel very well. On retreats, the routines created are for health! Routines (like yoga classes in the morning and meditation classes in the evening) can allow the body to feel in tune with the rhythm of the retreat and discover how to calm down knowing that those healing activities can impact your brain and body positively.

 

 

5. Meeting like-minded people

On holiday, we may meet a lot of people, but oftentimes the context does not allow for deep connections. We may meet someone on the beach or at a restaurant or bar, but when we spend enough time with someone like we do on retreats, we can really enjoy discovering who they are and connecting deeply. Research shows that it takes a person an average of seven hours to start trusting another. On retreats, you will spend a lot of time with people who, like you, are there to find a way to relax, to discover their inner voice. Therefore, you can share something deeper than a drink with them, and many people return home friends from retreats!

 

 

6. Time slows down

A fascinating thing I noticed on all my retreats was how time seemed to slow down. It is quite daunting that we spend our days rushing from one place or task to another and time flies! Retreats allow time to slow down because we are no longer chasing tasks; we are living in the present! That sort of connection allows us not to worry about our watches, but rather feel that we are enjoying what we are doing right “NOW.” It is a pretty powerful state of mind and it affects how we perceive time in every possible way!

 

 

7. Personal growth

 

I have a little anecdote about a group of girls who came to my retreat to Morocco last year. When I went to pick them up at the airport, at their arrival, they seemed distressed and tired, were happy to be there but had a very chaotic energy about them! A week later, when they left from the same airport, their aura was completely transformed. I always wish I had filmed their arrival and departure to show the difference! It looked like they had blossomed and found inner peace!

Being on the retreat, eating live foods and connecting with people around them allowed a lot of fears, frustration and discomfort to leave and allowed space for growth. The retreat had some tears, moments of distress when dealing with personal issues and emotions, but the result was all worth it! This is probably the biggest difference between a vacation and a retreat and why retreats are so powerful! You go there knowing that you want to feel better and, consciously or not, are ready to deal with personal demons and open up the door that will take you to the next level.

 

 

8. Human Touch

 

This one’s another personal favourite when it comes to retreats. I love the idea that someone is there 24/7 to take care of me, to nurture me, and just pamper me and assist all my needs! From yoga classes to massages or coaching sessions, retreats offer so many opportunities to feel seen and heard! Most of us need that, in a world where we seem to be part of a rushing herd and we are dying to stand out! I love feeling unique and retreats are designed to accommodate accordingly!

 

 

9. Accommodates all budgets!  

Just like holidays, retreats also accommodate according to our budget. You can select a standard, daily yoga and accommodation retreat up to five stars experiences. You can read feedback from people and see what their experience was and normally the feedbacks are very comprehensive, giving a good idea of how the entire retreat is, from classes to hosts to food.

It is nice to know what to expect and it is nice to know you can tailor your experience so that even if your budget is not big, you can still allow your retreat to give you an amazing time. I personally prefer to save for slightly more comprehensive retreats so that everything I need is taken care of, but I love that there are choices for everyone!

 

10. You realise retreats are holidays

The beauty of retreats is that they turn out to be the vacation you needed, to begin with! Although some people think all retreats are about drinking clay, keeping quiet and meditate for days, the options available allow so much choice and the opportunity to create the experience you want with so much more! Time to think, staying quiet, enjoying the surroundings and people, as well as the freedom to visit a new place, country and exploring the culture, all come with the knowledge that everything has been taken care of and you can just relax! This is what I call a vacation!

 

 

Whether you are a seasoned “retreater” or a newbie, I can ensure that you will not only love the experience but become addicted to it! Retreats have transformed the way I see holidays and although I still enjoy traveling all over, I find that the opportunity to stay in a beautiful place being looked after allows me to heal within and out, feel better about myself and gives me time to make better decisions in life too. A moment to STOP and RESET;  that is truly life changing!

Looking for your next Yoga + Travel + Retreat experience?

Check out Pure Flow Yoga Retreats in Koh Phangan Thailand. Their retreats are awesome: super-affordable, intimate groups, and community-oriented.  The location is beyond beautiful too! The perfect place to find “Me” Time:

Chantal is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, yoga teacher, author, nutrition and diet advisor with NLP, and founder of Live Lean Health and Live Lean TV. She believes medicine is on our plates and she implements both nutrition and lifestyle in her coaching practice. She works with people who seek positive change, physically, spiritually and emotionally, and other clients who want to regain their health and feel their best ever! Chantal is also a contributor at BookYogaRetreats.com.

Chantal Di Donato

Founder, Live Lean Health

Want to share your story? We LOVE hearing from past students.

 If you’d like to share comments, feedback, or if you’d like to submit your own post for us to share, let us know  by contacting us!

Journey to Self-Love on a Yoga Retreat

Journey to Self-Love on a Yoga Retreat

Letting in the Light:

My Journey to Self-Love on a Yoga Retreat

 

*** GUEST POST ***

I have returned to my paradise. This paradise is located exactly at 9.6914° N, 100.0740° E, and it goes by the name of Haad Yuan beach at Koh Phangan. This magical corner of the world with white sandy beaches, lush jungles and gorgeous rocks is where I started my spiritual journey a bit more than a year ago, and now I have been blessed to return.

A year ago I was still healing from an ended relationship, struggling with loving myself enough to be happy and peaceful and to live the life I always imagined for myself. I was lost with my studies, not knowing if it was what I wanted to do, and lost with all the expectations I set for myself to execute a so-called perfect life. Somewhere deep in me, I knew that the one thing I most desperately needed was to love myself unconditionally, without expectations. I was sure that most of the other issues would resolve themselves, if I only had this love towards myself and my life.

Now, all that was missing was a way to achieve that love. Six months before setting my foot on the sand of Koh Phangan, I had subscribed to an Ashtanga Yoga course in my hometown Helsinki, and quite enjoyed it. Ashtanga was competitive enough for my ambitious mind, and so it felt like a good option to look for an opportunity to do some yoga during my two-week holiday from work. I googled yoga Thailand, booked my retreat and bought my tickets, and was on my way to my first-ever yoga retreat on my first-ever trip alone.

So, to me this island is a paradise, it was a year ago and it still is. It truly is Yin and Yang with its party scene and spirituality beautifully mixed together, but what is even more magical about this island is that it just seems to make people more receiving, open to encounter their emotions and their own vulnerability. Maybe this emotional clarity stems from the fact that the island is made of quartz crystal, but I could feel how, since day one sitting on a rock watching the gorgeous ocean, something that I had been holding back started opening in me. All those feelings, pretending to be so strong and capable, it almost felt like my walls started to fall down, and I was receiving what would come. And it was exactly the right thing to do.

And as it was the right thing for me to encounter my own vulnerability, this universe has an incredible way of sending like-minded people on each other’s paths. At Pure Flow Yoga  I would enjoy the company of people from different cultures, backgrounds and age groups on a very similar journey towards better self-understanding, love and balance. The environment really invites you to open up, because you feel like you are safe and these people are there to share your journey for a week or two.

In the beginning of the retreat I tried to soothe my ambitious and competitive mind by executing my practice the best way possible. I wanted to be able to do every single asana every single time, but very soon I realized that it is not possible. Sometimes my body was just so tired, that I let myself lie in the child’s pose and just breathe. At first I felt angry at myself, “why can’t I do all these poses, what is wrong with me?” I kept on thinking I’m not strong enough, not good enough, not worthy enough. And I think it was the third day, when I burst into tears, that I realized this was the circle that I had to break to get closer to self-love and acceptance.

So I surrendered. The resistance had taken so much energy, blaming myself for not being good enough in sports, in school, in a relationship, in life, and I couldn’t help but to surrender. I let myself go, giving my best effort, telling myself it is enough, that I am worthy and loveable and enough. Just doing my best, and sometimes it is more, sometimes less. Sometimes we are strong and could do a thousand Vinyasas or fight the battles in our life and sometimes we just feel like crawling into a comfortable nest and laying in the child’s pose or let our life take its course by itself. And it is all okay.

As the week progressed I realized that I felt comfortable enough to surrender to self-acceptance as well. This is my body, perfect as it is, my temper and personality, grateful for them being what they are. Slowly I could be more kind towards myself, I could observe myself, see what attachments I hold in my life, and still tell myself it is okay to hold them. I would just observe, and acknowledge that these attachments too will change, like everything else in my life.

It is not like one week of meditation and yoga will fix all your problems or challenges, or change your personality and offer you peace of mind. But if you have ever had that lights-on moment in your life, you know that moment, when suddenly you see something very clearly, like you have a solution or explanation right in front of you, and you wonder how you couldn’t see it before, taking a week to focus on yourself can be quite close to that. Almost as if someone were to operate the dimming lights or there would be a rising sun peeking through your curtains to shed a little bit of light for you to see more clearly. And then it is up to you to take that journey and to open the curtains completely and let the light in.

 

Sofia is a young woman on a quest to unconditional love and acceptance through yoga and meditation. She is a student, young professional and above all a curious human being, who loves seeing other cultures, meeting new people and understanding what sets their heart on fire. Besides helping others to fulfill their potential, Sofia loves writing, reading, going out with friends and family, animals, laughing, nature and her morning coffee.  You can follow Sofia’s adventures on her travel blog and Instagam @sofiasmap.

Sofia Pohls

6 Ways to Integrate Post-Retreat Bliss into your Everyday life

6 Ways to Integrate Post-Retreat Bliss into your Everyday life

6 Ways to Integrate Retreat Bliss into your Everyday Life: 

Post-Retreat tools for bringing more Magic, Peace, Love and Presence into your life.

 

“Forget your perfect offerings. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. – Leonard Cohen

 

You’ve just spent the last week sipping luscious coconuts and swimming in the palm fringed crystal blue waters of paradise. You’ve just done more Yoga asana and meditation in a week that in the past month combined. Your body feels more open and free than you can ever remember and your mind feels oh so clear. You feel inspired. Your life has been transformed and you feel that you are evolving.

And then you remember:

After each expansion, comes a contraction.

After each inhale, comes the exhale.

What goes up must come down.

This is the nature of all things – to be in a state of flux and change.

The retreat is over now and those pesky thoughts come back in…”I’ll never be able to do this on my own!!!! Or “Oh NO! How am I going to keep this up?! Its so easy to be practicing and peaceful when I’m here but what happens when I go home?’. They want to know, “How can I keep this feeling alive? How can I stay in the practice of LOVE and gratitude and openness to new ideas?”

The reality as most of us live it, is that we have busy lives, full of ever-evolving, super important, pay attention in this very moment, distractions. The habits, routines and stresses of daily life begin to seep back in, and much quicker than we would have hoped.

Life happens very quickly and suddenly our time fades into a golden memory. That wide open hearts and spirit you may have felt at certain points on our retreats seems to have been just a peak moment, a fleeting memory.

Life is a relentless fury of waves that will keep coming. All we can really do is manage how we surf the waves.

Here are some Tips and Suggestions to help your integrate the Bliss into your everyday life and carry it forward to help navigate this lifelong journey.

1. Love What Is.

I have spent a lot of time this life, trying to better than I am, trying to heal myself, to perfect, purify and fix myself in order to somehow feel that I am good enough, smart enough, disciplined enough, successful enough, worthy enough, fill-in-the-blank enough. It’s exhausting.   Just for a moment contemplate the possibility that you are enough as you are in this moment, that you are perfect with all of your imperfections, that. How does that feel? Come back to this practice again and again. Be mindful. Love what is.

 

 2. Practice for 10,000 Hours.

Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling book Outliers, offers us the theory of the 10,000 hours towards mastery of anything. If we want tomaster the guitar – 10,000 hours. If we want to master hula hooping – same thing. If we want to master mindfulness, peace, presence, joy, being in our center…10,000 hours. So basically, every time we practice meditation, asana, or spend time in sangha we are shoring up those 10,000 hours. Each little bit counts. Knowing this, we can let go of any judgment we have towards ourselves with regards to where we are in relation to where we “should” be and simple celebrate every time you do! Instead of focusing on how you didn’t show up to the mat today, celebrates every time you do, even if it’s for 5 minutes.

3. Remember the 3 Jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Buddha – nature – Our Essence

 

Buddhism offers us a framework for integrating bliss, by reminding us that

each one of us has the potential to wake up from the dream of separation, from the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, from the fears that limit us. We each have the potential to be free from sufferings in this moment, here and now, even though it can be hard and situations around may present us with challenges. Mother Thesesa, Hitler…..everyone can wake up. And it’s not a simple meritocracy. Just because you do well in the world, does not mean you will wake up. Being in full alignment, though, words and actions is ideal for setting up all the conditions in which waking up occurs., but so much more is involve – primarily, Yoga reminds us to close our eyes. Look inside. Everyday. For as long as you can. And this will help connect you to your Buddha-nature.

Dharma – The Path

Yoga Retreats, intensives, workshops and trainings are amazing because they give us the opportunity to really engage and go deep with the timeless tools offered by the 2000 year old + tradition of Yoga. We can get new insight and re-discover aspects of ourselves that we may have lost a little a long the way. Yoga offers us the 8 limbs to freedom – the Ashtanga Yoga system , which includes the yamas and niyamas, asana, prananyam, pratyahara, dhyana, dharana and Samadhi. We can model our lifestyles on these, we can read dharma books or books by contemporary teachers like Eckahrt Tolle, Wayne Dyer, the Dalai Lama…. We can spend time with living Masters and teachers . You will find a lot of repetition on this path. Repetition is said to be the mother of all teachers. Even after a decade of devoted yoga practice, I am still amazed how the simple reminder from a yoga teacher to breathe in any given moment, can take me so deep. So the moral of the story here is practice. Sadhana. The practice is there for you always to take you home – and it will never judge you ever for not coming back sooner.

Sangha – Stay connected with this amazing Community of truth-seekers

Often after an unforgettable retreat like this, you make connections and feel your belongingness to community. We realize that people of all ages and backgrounds are coming to these retreats all wanting more happiness, more freedom and joy. The first noble truth of Buddhism – all being suffer. We are united in our suffering and we are united in out desire to be happy and free. So at the end of the day, actually we are all the same.

It never ceases to AMAZE me, how at that at the end of each retreat week, people from all around the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have connected so deeply and formed such powerful bonds and friendships.   And nowadays, it’s so easy to stay connected with the people you meet along the path who inspire you to be in your highest self.

 4. “Be the change you want to see”. – Gandhi

You have the wisdom and you are invited to use it whenever you so chose. You know how to live your life in more balance. You know the discipline your require from outside to get you on track. And you also know that it requires discipline and showing up. Showing up = success in life.

And you may start to feel a certain niggling dissonance anytime you do something that is outside of that wisdom of your higher self.

It can take time to truly integrate the wisdom and inspiration we have into action, but as Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga reminds us

“Practice and all is coming”. – Pattabhi Jois

 

5. Practice Gratitude

 

More gratitude = More happiness

Gratitude is said to be the most powerful prayer of all. Gratitude is also the #1 pre-cursor to santosha – contentment.

And let’s face it: You rock!

The decisions and choices you have made up until this point in your life have landed you on a Yoga retreat in paradise. So lets take a moment to celebrate your amazingness. We all get here though all kinds of unique trials and tribulations, challenges and breakthroughs. But you got here. And you have a week or two or 3 to really dive deep into your being, to explore your consciousness and open your body. Again, Amazing. You can even do it again if you want. What a life!

6. Dream Big & Plan your next trip.

 

Part of the great joy of coming on a trip like this is the anticipation. Having goals and setting intentions are really profound ways of manifesting what you want. Mike Dooley – the creator of “The universe” offers a metaphor that has been sticking with me through time. Life works like GPS system and there are two keys things we need to do to manifest our dreams. The first is to put in the destination address of where we want to go, this is our big dream or intention. The second is to put the car in drive, and begin taking actions and steps in the direction of what we want. . We can then let go of all micro managing, the worrying about the “how” and all the other details!

Let the universe work its magic in navigating you in perfection towards your dreams. And hopefully, that means coming back to visit us again!

So take a moment now to dream up your next trip, or the next way you will nurture your spirit, and reconnect with your self and nature, even if its just a day trip or a weekend – anything can help keep you focused on maintain your practice!

 

In Conclusion

Yoga Retreats are amazing eye-opening transformational experiences. It’s a common experience for people’s lives to shift into more alignment after this experience. But it takes courage and willingness to step out of the habits, the comfort zones, continuously, in every moment. Be patient. It takes more than a week to truly achieve Yoga – the state of union – of experiencing no-separation.   It may even take 10,000 + hours. Every step a long the way counts and will bringer you into more lightness of being.

So remember – You have the capacity within you to AWAKEN NOW, you know the tools and you know the path – they are there for you in every moment, and you are supported by people just like you, all around you, and around the world, in yoga retreats, in your office, in your local yoga studio, or meditation center or meet-up – Find them.

P.S. We’d LOVE to hear from you. Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? Send us a message.

Ready to feel more clear, more freedom, more joy?

Francie is a passionate and free-spirited Yogi, hula hooper, musician and lover of all things Magic. She is the inspired founder of Pure Flow Yoga in Koh Phangan, Thailand where she spends half of the year offerings daily Yoga classes, workshops and ongoing transformational Yoga Retreats in Paradise. She is also the founder of Hoop Love Tribe, an international co-creative collective of flow artists offering weekly community by-donation hoop jams for Spark! Circus, as well as the bi-annual “Hoopapalooza Flow Fest”, a 3-day beachside Hula Hoop and flow arts immersion experience.  To follow Francie’s personal calendar, to receive her playlists, blog posts and music, like her Facebook page: Francie Fishman :Yoga Hoop Music Love

Francie

Founder of Pure Flow Yoga

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Love at first Yoga

Love at first Yoga

Love at First Yoga

“I do” – Love at First Yoga – My Journey

 

Becoming a student of Yoga

Once upon a time, I was backpacking in India and decided to try a 10 day silent meditation retreat at Tushita in the Himalayas.

I thought that such a feat would be nearly impossible for such an incessantly talkative, extroverted, enthusiastic person such as myself.

It was surprising to me how easy it was to melt into the Simple Life.

I knew immediately how important this experience would be for my life.

It was challenging at times, don’t get me wrong, but I was in deep gratitude everyday for having discovered this practice of Being in my early 20’s.

On this retreat, they offered Yoga practice everyday.  

From the first downward dog I ever took, I knew:  This was it.  FULL YES.

I fell head over heals in love with Yoga.  Everything about it. The movements, the breath, the philosophy, the community of truth-seekers.

Truly, madly, deeply in LOVE.

As soon as I started loving and practicing Yoga, I felt openings and awakenings in my body and almost instantly the mind benefits started to creep in.

With more space, flexibility and awareness of my body, I learned to heal 16 years of chronic pain in my IT band – in my outer knee and thigh.

I also began to feel a lifetime full of indecision and the dances with depression begin to loosen their grip.

Resilience continues to grow strong all the time.

 

Poly-Yogamous

The next move on my travels was Thailand, where I met Lily of the Blooming Lotus.  Again, instant Love.  We kept in touch and I always knew that I wanted to learn more from this incredible embodied and wise Yogi.

Over the next many years I became a true Yogaphile: I really gave time to and tried Anusara Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini, Satsang, Yin, Restorative, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Ashtanga, Mysore practice, Iyengar. 

You name it, I tried it. Mostly…

Travelling for Yoga, taking as many classes and workshops I could, reading all the books.

I studied thousands of hours with countless teachers, masters, took endless trainings and workshops…

We know that life isn’t always easy.   Buddha’s first noble truth state that “all beings suffer”.  Its part of the package of being gifted this embodied life.

Yoga always helped make things better.

Yoga started to make my life easier and more enjoyable. 

It started to help me become more resilient and to help me overcome the bouts of depression that have been a signature part of my life throughout my child and adulthood.

 

Becoming a Yoga Teacher

After living for some time in Bali, teaching Pre-Kindergarten at the Green School (I’m actually a qualified and certified Primary school teacher!), 

I decided it was finally time to take my Yoga to the next – level with a Teacher Training course.  Of course Lily was top of my list of who I wanted to study with, even though I had only met her for a few days 6 years before.

The teacher training blew my mind and my teachers invited me to assist and work with them.  

Shortly thereafter, I moved to Thailand and started running classes, then retreats at the Blooming Lotus.

Dream come true.

For me, despite the statistics that share that there are anywhere from 2450-650,000 Registered Yoga Teachers in the US alone, I’ve always know that if its my dharma, or sacred purpose to teach, the universe will guide me.

I guess I’ve become a little woo-woo like that.  But it’s proven true.

A few years later, my teachers decided that it was time to move to Bali and open a beautiful new centre and world there.  We parted paths.

 

Becoming a Yogi-Preneur

This transition invited me to step up in to a new role – as a Yogipreneur – a Yogi + Entrepreneur, to take over the space in Thailand and create my own flavour of offerings.  

Another dream come true!

This has been a really challenging part of the journey. 

The beginning of our paths with Yoga is often a lot of Love + Light.  Which is great.

Eventually though, we need to sustain the practice, sustain the learnings, integrate the lessons…

So, it’s been 3 years now of running a business, and I’d say its been mostly rewarding.

I’ve learned sooooo much.  I’ve made countless friends, connecting with incredible people from all over the globe, I’ve help ed to positivly impact the lives of thousands of people. I’ve been able to live in paradise and practice Yoga and meditation in peace.

Running a business is no piece of cake. Its been very demanding and at times, I even forget that I’m a Yogi first. 

I’m doing my best, and definitely feel like I’m earning the equivalent of a Masters degree in Spirituality and Business.

Mostly though, having a business demands that I step out of my comfort zone and learn things that are not in my so-called “Zone of genius”.

For this I am grateful…and challenged.

 

What’s next for me?

No matter what happens in terms of my career or trajectory as a human being….Yoga and Meditation are next for me. 

If life has taught me anything, it’s that everything changes.

So I don’t know that I’ll be teaching Yoga in this way for the rest of my life, and I don’t know if it’ll be here in this paradise.

Yoga teaches me to be present, to be grateful and  love what is, and to accept change with grace.

Again, not always easy. 

Yoga is a practice.  It’s not something you do, then tick off the list.  

I think of showers in the same way.  Great! I had a shower today – that doesn’t mean I won’t need one again tomorrow or in a couple days right?!

Yoga is something you show up to in every moment, day after day after day.

Teaching Yoga does not mean that I have mastered it.  It simply means that I am dedicated to being a student of life, dedicated to facing my shadows, to learning, to growing and to evolving

Yoga is my forever teacher,  in the good times and the bad.

Yoga always helps to remind me of who I really am, beyond the stories and emotions.  It helps guide my way home.

I feel beyond blessed and grateful to dedicate my life to practicing and sharing Yoga, opening my heart, discovering deeper dimensions.  

And I vow to continue to evolve and grow, and become a more balanced and diverse person,  teacher and entrepreneur along the way, so long as that is what feels like the highest good for all, 

 

Til death or beyond…do us part Yoga.

Thank you for all that you give me.

 

In a nutshell, Why Yoga?

Hatha Yoga combines movement, conscious breathing, and mindful awareness and presence to offer physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual practices that connect us to the deepest aspects of our selves and our true nature.

The Benefits of yoga are boundless and include alignment, balance, strength, flexibility and connection to nature, community and our highest selves. 

Yoga helps me so much to navigate the reality of what presents in each moment. Its help me to know what the “highest alignment” is in each given situation, and it helps me to the see a true reflection of the roots of my suffering more clearly.  It improves each present moment most especially when I am in a really dedicated space of active practicing.

Life is still life. Up, downs, waves, emotions, times where I feel alone, time where I feel not enough. But every time an emotional fluctuation arises, it lasts less long and I can see the progress and resilience, I can feel it…

Yoga is the one thing I can absolutely commit to for the rest of my life. And I love nothing more than sharing this passion for the Practice, for being a student of life ever-after, and for living the ever – evolving dream of sharing this love with you all!

Yoga literally means “union” or “to yoke” our everyday selves with our highest most divine selves. Yoga is a powerful tool that teaches us how to live a life of balance, peace, harmony, strength and flexibility on all levels. The practice of yoga helps us become stronger, more open, free, happy, flexible and balanced, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through yoga, we open ourselves to the infinite possibilities of life, allowing us to connect more deeply with ourselves, nature and community.

A Discipline Practice

A Disciplined Practice of yoga has the transformational benefits of deepening our connection to the body, mind and spirit, supporting us in living and loving long, vibrant, happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

 

Yoga teaches us the art of letting go, letting grow, letting flow.

 

We move our bodies to move energy and restlessness to ultimately still the mind and enter the bliss of meditation, wherein our individual consciousness can merge with the ultimate or spiritual oneness consciousness, leading to our remembrance that we are not separate from that which appears to be outside of our own minds.

In practicing yoga, we become humbled and cultivate our trust in the body of wisdom that is sacred and vast and greater than our individual selves.

The Shift

We are invited through our practice to look at the reflections life shows us in the form of experiences, the people we come across, emotions that enter.

We practice the art of receiving, giving, continually striving for an open heart especially when it wants to close.

We come to believe seemingly impossible to be possible and begin embracing feelings of gratitude for the perfection of it all either way

From wherever we are at,  breaking through our somewhat uncomfortable comfort zones of who we think we are, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves that we believe – “I’m not good at yoga”, “I’m too stiff/ old/ etc.. allows us to have the biggest heart, mind and body openings and shifts in our attitudes, mindsets, behaviours and thoughts.

Becoming more consciously aware, more mindful, in the choices we make everyday, from diet and lifestyle to the company we keep, so that we are living in full truth, love and integrity, is another great ripple effect of the practice.

Yoga helps inspire a deeper connection with mother nature and her cycles.  Perfectly orchestrated symphonies of synchronicities and coincidences being to more readily flow and stream through life.

And most importantly,  at the end of the day, Yoga is simply a practice.

So all you really gotta do is show up.

Be present.

Allow.

Let go

Breathe

and

Be.

Do you love Yoga as much as we do?  Let us know in the comments section! 🙂

 

Enjoy this short practice that explores a simple standing sequence to build strength in alignment, flow with the breath and movement and openness in the hips and heart.

Francie is an experienced life-transformation expert from the Yoga perspective, having curated and led more than 150 + retreats, workshops and programs with over 500+ students from all walks of life from all over the world.  She is a passionate and free-spirited Yogi, hula hooper, musician, social entrepreneur and world-traveller dedicated to uplifting, inspiring and empowering people to live embodied and awakened lives.

She is the inspired founder of the award-winning Pure Flow Yoga, True:Nature Experience and Hoop Love Tribe.  Francie is currently living her dream between Thailand, Bali and the rest of the world, sharing intimate, magical and life-changing experiences, including her signature Retreats in Paradise, as well as festivals and community gatherings.

Receive her weekly Love & Inspirations when you Sign up for the Love letter- music, playlists, blog posts and more.T o follow Francie’s personal calendar, to r like her Facebook page: Francie Fishman :Yoga Hoop Music Love

Francie

Founder , Pure Flow Yoga

Read this BEFORE your Yoga Retreat: 10 Powerful Insights

Read this BEFORE your Yoga Retreat: 10 Powerful Insights

 

Top 10 Powerful Insights

to help you get the most out of your Yoga Retreat

Top 10 Pure Flow Yoga Retreat Insights:

A Yoga Retreat is a great opportunity to unplug, unwind and focus on the true you, as you take a break from your day-to-day responsibilities and regular routines of life.  A retreat is unlike a holiday in that it requires discipline and showing up, finding the balance between practice and pause.  It’s an opportunity for you to deepen your connections and understandings of Yoga and yourself, in an exotic, gorgeous and exciting paradise while meeting great new people from all over the world.  You may love it so much that you keep coming back every year.

 

1 – Yoga is the gift that keeps on Giving:  You may come home Transformed

 

Warning: Going on retreat may cause serious side-effects including and not limited to feeling more:

Aligned, transformed, Refreshed, Invigorated, Relaxed, Calm, Soft, Kind, Warm, Bright, Spacious, Light, Slowed down, Connected to yourself, Creative, Embodied, Focused, Clear minded, Strength to overcome new challenges, Resilience, and heightened sense of flexibility, both in the body and in the mind.

 

2 – Expect the Unexpected and Remember… 

 

What matters in life, is not necessarily what happens, so much as what happens next.  In other words, what matters is how You respond or react. 

 

Let’s begin with one of my favourite Rumi poems:

This being human is a guesthouse. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes. Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

– Rumi

The Yin / Yang of Koh Phangan:  The magic of our location on the crystal-quartz island of Koh Phangan is that it is remote, stunning, high vibrational and so it attracts yogis, meditators, fasters, artists, travellers from around the world and party animals too!  Koh Phangan as you may know, is home to the monthly Full Moon Party.  Generally, we are not so affected by these parties, but there are loud weekly music dance parties and all vices in our bays as well.  Generally there are all-night parties Friday and Saturday. It is a unique situation in that you can wake up at sunrise, do your practice and then go dance all day, or you can stay up all night.

Keep this in mind.  Notice what arises within you.  There may be judgment, aversion, frustration, celebration, fascination; apathy…Again, everything that presents is just an invitation to know ourselves more.

 

Everything in your life is there as a vehicle

for Your transformation. Use it!” – Ram Dass

 

3 –  Sankalpa – What is your Intention?

 

We can think of the Universe as a very sophisticated GPS system.  Our jobs are to input our final destination address and then put our cars, ourselves, into gear, letting the Universe navigate us and take care of the details of how we are going to get to where we want to go.

Reflect on why you have chosen to come on a retreat at this moment in your life:

Take some moments to meditation or write about what has inspired you to join us here in Paradise on a retreat.  Why you are coming and what do you hope will be the outcome of your experience?  What are you hoping to feel during or after the retreat? 

 

4 – Come with a Beginners Mind and Readiness to Play:

 

Some of us are New to Yogaand some of us have been teaching for 20 years.  Remember that the process of yoga is infinite, boundless, and vast beyond our wildest imaginations.

Not knowing is the gateway to knowing.

When we come with our minds already full there is no space for the new, no space for transformation and expansion.  So the invitation here is to be child-like:

Receptive, open and playful. 

Science proves that we learn and heal best through play.   We ourselves are amazing laboratories for experimentation and self-discovery.  So let’s play!   

Beginners Mind – According to Zen Buddhism, when our rice bowl is full, so to speak, there is no room for more. Thus in order to stay open and keep learning, we must continually empty our bowls. Throughout your time here, we invite you to meet each moment with a child-like sense of awe and wonder, in a spirit of openness, curiosity and playfulness as we explore and discover our personal patterns and edges.

 

5 – Be Curious!

 

Life is an endlessly fascinating play with relentless waves of ups and downs, lefts and rights, and all arounds. 

You may be coming with expectations of how things should be, or perhaps you have just had a blissful peaceful experience in mind. 

The reality is, things happen.  Always. They don’t always go according to plan. 

Maybe the boat driver is trying to rip you off, or you get sick when you arrive, maybe you meet the person who will change your life forever, or maybe not, maybe this whole non-hot water shower non- flushing toilet thing is really out of your comfort zone, maybe you don’t sleep as well as you wanted one night because you’re getting bit by one mosquito too many. 

The point is, no one knows exactly what is going to happen next, EVER.  In accepting whatever is happening in this moment as perfect, we can use whatever is happening as a teaching to help us evolve.  Challenge, resistance, everything is conspiring for our betterment.

how-to-expand-my-comfort-zone

 

6 –  Do your Best: Be Willing to Learn & to Show up

 

Transformation is a reflection of our willingness to connect, to let go, to aspire to realise oneself.

In other words, you get out what you put in. Use this as an opportunity to go deeply into self-reflection so that you can empower yourself to recognise and begin shifting patterns that no longer serve and integrating ones that do.

Alot of success is simply about showing up. 

There are going to be times when you’d rather be laying on the beach than being present in class.  Normal.  We encourage you to use this resistance as your teacher and to continue to show up for yourself and do the work. 

Committing to the journey and doing your best will really support you in fulfilling your intention.

 

7 –  85% of our Students are Solo Travellers.

You are not alone!  There is community here! 

We are all coming to these retreats to find more balance, to love ourselves more and to awaken.   In this we really find common threads to connect and support each other. 

Each group dynamic is so unique, some groups fall totally in love with one another, and other times there is frustration and annoyance, or feelings of being triggered.  Always though, each participant leaves the group feeling expanded and connected and more self-aware. 

We don’t always get to choose the lessons we learn, but wow!,  if we can stay open to those lessons, and reflect on why this person or that challenge may be in our presence now, it can allow for amazing shifts. Imagine the freedom and expansiveness of considering the possibility that everyone and everything that presenting in your reality right now is somehow a reflection of something with you.

 

8 – Trust the Process & Take NOTHING personally:

 

The image most people have in their minds of a retreat in paradise is often peaceful and blissful, and ultimately this is the destination!  But, the journey can be also be bumpy at times.  Immersions offer a safe space to look at our murkier bits, to give our shadow sides space and time to emerge and release.  Sometimes we can feel social and other times we can feel to be in a quieter space. 

Remember this can be a really sensitive time for you and the others. We can never really know where another being is coming from. Remember to take nothing personally.   Whatever is going on with someone else, is not about you!   Respect where you’re at and where others are at and take nothing personally. 

 

9 – Nurture yourself & Allow yourself time to Simply BE

What happens off the mat is as important as what happens on the mat.

 

What we are learning in our journey of Yoga is what our bodies and minds need to balance.  So reflect on what you need to find more balance in your body, in your heart, in your mind, and in your spirit and take advantage of this time to honour, listen and nurture yourself.  Get massages, take naps, spend time alone, be barefoot and most importantly

Allow yourself time to SIMPLY BE.  

We are doing a lot:  Moving our bodies, filling our minds, breaking through comfort zones, meditating and looking within….

We also have some free time.   The tendency we often time have as humans, is to fill these empty spaces with: distractions, habits, addictions, and BUSYNESS.   

Watch your actions, your words, and your behaviours and do your best to align these with your highest intentions.

 

10 – Practice Gratitude Everyday

 

“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to You”. – Lao-Tzu

Gratitude – thankfulness, appreciation for the simple pleasures, for your life’s blessings, for all that you receive – is said to the most powerful of prayers and the highest vibration we can emit to help us manifest a life of happiness and alignment. 

At the end of each yoga class we will take a few moments to feel gratitude.

When we start this practice, we may feel challenged or inauthentic, finding it easier at times to grumble and groan rather than think of what we are grateful for.  The hardest part is just beginning. 

So let’s start now.  

Today, I am grateful for…

Perhaps you can feel grateful for the people in your life, the feet that support you, your morning coffee ritual.  Anything.  What most people I know begin to find, is that this practice has a magnetic momentum.  As soon as you start, more and more things will come to mind that you can feel grateful for, even and especially the shadowy bits that have challenged you a long the way.  

This is such a powerful tool for shifting you mood, your moment, and ultimately you life! 

Please feel welcome to begin creating a list of all the people and things, big and small, for which you are grateful and be sure to thank yourself for being here

and from me… thank you so much for being here now and for all that you are and continue to be!

Namaste

Francie is an experienced life-transformation expert from the Yoga perspective, having curated and led more than 150 + retreats, workshops and programs with over 500+ students from all walks of life.  She is a passionate and free-spirited Yogi, hula hooper, musician and traveller, dedicated to uplifting, inspiring and empowering people live embodied and awakened lives. Francie holds A BA in Psychology & Philosophy from McGill University, and a Post-Grad. Dip in Education.  She is the inspired founder of award-winning Pure Flow Yoga in Koh Phangan, Thailand where she spends half of the year offerings daily Yoga classes, workshops and ongoing transformational Yoga Retreats in Paradise. She is also the founder of True:Nature Experience and Hoop Love Tribe.  To follow Francie’s personal calendar, to receive her playlists, blog posts and music, like her Facebook page: Francie Fishman :Yoga Hoop Music Love

Francie

Pure Flow Yoga Founder

New to Yoga?  – Tips to Ready you for the Journey Within

New to Yoga? – Tips to Ready you for the Journey Within

New to Yoga? 

Top 10 Tips to Ready you

for the Journey Within

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” –  Lao Tzu

Congrats on taking this great step to bring about more balance, strength and flexibility to your body & mind.

It can be daunting to try anything new and it can be intimidating going to a yoga class for the first time.

Here are some great tips to support you on your first steps and remember:

 

 

1)  Listen to your body and Be Compassionate towards the Self

 

 

There’s not much you need to know before going to class other than respect your body’s limits. If you experience sensation, awesome, if you experience pain, back out of the poses.

a) Childs pose is your new best friend. Hang out there anytime you feel you need to connect with the breath or with simply being. This practice is for you. Find your edge; work with it, and practicing accepting where you are every moment. I have a teacher who includes Childs pose as one of the Warrior poses, because it takes, strength and courage to really acknowledge when you are at your age and …Yoga is not about competition, go at your own pace

b) Eating and Drinking. Drink water before and after your class. During the class part of what we are doing is building transformational purifying heat in the body, so generally e tend to avoid drinking during the class. Eat after class. When we eat our energy flows downward for digestion. The practices of yoga are actually trying to build an upward moving energy to bring clarity and peace to the mind.

c) Be comfortable and clean – Wear clothes that are comfortable, loose, that you feel comfortable sticking your legs up in the air in. It is best to bathe and wear clean clothes for Yoga and meditation as this helps keeps the body fresh, pure and full of positivity.

 

 

2) Yoga is for everybody. EVERY BODY.

 

 

Just show up. Be Open to leaning. Be Expectation – free. Wherever you go, there you are, so start there. In order to be “good” at yoga, all you need is to do it. As in any new venture in life, we start from where we are. Being “good” at yoga has nothing really to do with being able to touch your toes or balance on your pinky finger with one leg touching the sky above your head. “Being Good at Yoga” means that you remain centered and calm when the $%#(@ hits the fan.

Whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right – Henry Ford

 

 

 

3) Yoga is more than just the physical shapes we make with our bodies.

 

 

MUCH MORE. It’s a 2500 year old practical and philosophical lifestyle system that encompasses deep body awareness, consciousness awareness, lifestyle choices, personal development, compassion, patience, love, trust and.

The benefits of the physical practice totally rock. You will feel more energized, more balanced, stronger in your core, your legs your arms, your mind. But to really and truly reap the 1000 fold benefits of yoga you have to be prepared to go deep into your resistances and explore the depths of your heart and mind.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Theodore Roosevelt.  

 

 

 

4) Stick with it! The Arts of Resistance / Patience / Perseverance

 

 

Yoga is simple but not necessarily easy. One of my favourite meditation teachers, Pema Chodron, reminds, invites, and challenges us, like a puppy dog in training, to STAY. After your first few classes in a while, the body may be screaming at you to stop. The challenge is to keep going. Be persistent. Life with its entire myriad of distractions, the mind with all of its to-dos, all of its desires to be more productive, more efficient, more…. is urging you to stop. Slowing down, leaning who you are in the face of resistance, is the name of the game here on the yoga mat. Patience will help you so much to grow and evolve beautifully

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

 

 

 

5) Explore & Go Deep

 

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain

Try different classes – There are bazillion yoga teachers, styles and classes out there. Find inspiration wherever it’s on offer. Find a teacher whose style, personality and philosophy resonate with you, then stick with them for a while and go deep.

Read. We are multi-dimensional multi-intelligence beings. Some of us learn more by doing, hearing, reading, writing, or creating or a combination of all. We can all benefit from getting the information in as many ways as possible. There are endless amazing books on yoga, mindfulness, meditation, presence, love, trust, surrender, open-ness. Here is an ever-expanding list of some of my favorite books to get you inspired…

 

 

6) Be Curious. Ask Questions.

 

 

Be proactive. Get clarity on what is inspiring, challenging or confusing you. In our yoga classes here in Thailand, we award each student 10,000 points per question they ask. Why? Its fun, and more importantly, your questions bring relevance, depth of understanding, and insight to others, while also building community and curiosity.

I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.― Anaïs Nin

 

 

 

7) Yoga is about direct experience – You are a Living Laboratory. Experiment.

 

 

You are a living laboratory to explore the practices of Yoga, the lifestyle guides, the thought forms.

Try on what your teachers are sharing with you. See if it fits. If it doesn’t fit, cool. You’ve learned and grown and can let it go.

If you have a lot of resistance to trying it on…go back to number 2 and explore where the resistance is coming from and why.

 

 

 

8) Side effects of Yoga May include….

 

 

At first it seems harmless. You are going to a class or two or 3 a week. Next thing you know you have more energy, you are thinking about all the things you are grateful for, you are watching TV less. You are feeding your body more organic vegetarian yummy goodness. You are singing chants. You are relating more openly, more clearly and consciously, or at least you want it. Relationships are affected. You start to notice what you are feeding your body and your mind…

 

 

 

9)  Attitude is everything – The Shift

 

 

The lessons we need to learn in life, while incredibly profound, are often quite blatantly simple. I always remind myself that this moment is exactly as it is, and it is our relationship to the moment that determines our experience of it as happy, sad, boring, exciting… We are the directors of this play. Two people caught in the rain can have very different experiences. One can be miserable and cold, cross their arms across the chess and mutter about the blahness of it all, and the other can be jumping in puddles with glee. Thoughts simple exists, it is truly our relationship to them that gives them power.

 

 

 

10)  Enjoy, have fun, and Celebrate all wins

 

 

Every time you succeed in making it to the mat. Celebrate. You did shoulder stand for the first time. Celebrate! You meditated for 5 minutes? Celebrate! You missed a day of practice? Cool. Moving on. You made it the next day? Celebrate! Set yourself up for success.

Even in just thinking about doing yoga, or cultivating a more mindful lifestyle, you are winning and so is everyone around you. Winning!!!!

Welcome to the amazing journey of Self-Discovery that is Yoga! Enjoy your time on the mat. Find the willingness to let go of perfection, the ego, and the thinking mind and try to drop into the spacious awareness within.

 

 

May your journey with Yoga

be filled with peace, grace, ease,  flow & support.

Namaste!

Francie is a passionate and free-spirited Yogi, hula hooper, musician and lover of all things Magic. She is the inspired founder of Pure Flow Yoga in Koh Phangan, Thailand where she spends half of the year offerings daily Yoga classes, workshops and ongoing transformational Yoga Retreats in Paradise. She is also the founder of Hoop Love Tribe, an international co-creative collective of flow artists offering weekly community by-donation hoop jams for Spark! Circus, as well as the bi-annual “Hoopapalooza Flow Fest”, a 3-day beachside Hula Hoop and flow arts immersion experience.  To follow Francie’s personal calendar, to receive her playlists, blog posts and music, like her Facebook page: Francie Fishman :Yoga Hoop Music Love

Francie

Founder, Pure Flow Yoga