“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius
Words like this couldn’t ring truer after spending a week teaching on retreat in Northern Thailand. When I first started teaching yoga I had no idea the places it would take me. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world on the pursuit of deepening my practice, learning evermore and honing my skills as a teacher.
Combining the outward journey of travel and discovering new lands seems to be the perfect compliment to the inward journey and discovery of the inner self that yoga practice offers. And over the past 4 years I’ve also been lucky enough to travel and teach on retreats where I invite students old and new to join me.
This year our group consisted of 18 yogis. Nearly all of whom practise with me regularly and nearly all of whom have joined me on retreat at least once if not more. What this meant was that it very much felt like a family affair, friends, husbands, wives & even children joined together for a week of steady practise, exploration of the surrounding areas, connection & so so many laughs. New Yogis into the fold were welcomed like old friends and by the end of the week it was hard to imagine there wasn’t a time where they hadn’t been a part of the group.
Our morning practices kicked off our days, and reminded us all why we were there. A love of asana, breath and meditation were rewarded with practises that made sense in the body, allowed for playful exploration and helped as to ask the big question on life that we often avoid. And afternoon practises allowed us to unwind and take in the surrounds of the sun setting over rice fields.
Chiang Mai and surrounds are an area that have long felt like home to me, and to be able to share some of its attractions, like eating Thailand’s famous street food, or soaking in pools fed from mineral hot springs, was something that brought just as much joy as sharing the practise of Yoga.
When not exploring the inner self, or the outer surrounding areas, we got to relax and enjoy the spectacular venue of Mala Dhara retreat centre. Delicious and healthy meals became a further meeting point for lots of conversation and laughter. Our stories were told and shared. New friends were made. And a deeper understanding of old friends was gained.
When one needed down time, the salt water pool and its cascades provided the perfect backdrop for some quiet time and rest. Or one could retreat to the stunning and unique accommodation Mala Dhara provided. Massages and acupuncture daily were the perfect compliment to the yoga and healthy food. Not to mention the herbal steam provided on the last night!
Even with all the words of the English language available to me, it’s hard to convey how special it is to take a Yoga retreat. The days were well spent and the week together flew by and by the end there was a sense as we said goodbye, that we could have gone on like that forever.
A yoga retreat doesn’t just give the gift of time away from home and work. It doesn’t just give the gift of practising yoga daily. It gives you the gift of deepening your practise on levels beyond the physical. It gives you memories that will last a lifetime. And in our case the gift of friends that become family.