As women we share an innate connection with our Great Mother Nature in ways deeper and older than we often comprehend. Our ancestors knew this deep connection intimately. They would perform ritual and ceremony revolving around the Earth and honored themselves as a part of nature rather than separate. Women would bleed onto the Earth during their menstrual cycles, and bring new life to the world in the squatting position close to the ground. Our own cycle mirrors the phases of the moon, and the curves of our bodies mimic the Earths rolling hills and mountains. We flow intuitively like the tides of the ocean, and manifest our creative powers in ways that match the beauty and intensity of a mysterious forest, a magnificent volcano, or a simple yet beautiful flower. Our natural care taking and nurturing attributes allow us the privilege of holding others close, just as our Great Mother holds us. In these ways, and so many others our inner feminine nature is woven into the outer nature of the living Earth.
Why then, do we find ourselves so often living lives that feel disconnected and separate from our Great Mother?
We are indeed multifaceted beings, and our strengths, joys and powers lie in many areas, not just in the raw and primitive ways stated above, but also through our masculine energies of intellect and rationality. On top of that, we live in a technological era where our jobs and personal lives often require the use of cars, computers, smart phones and busy agendas. While these tools and energies serve us in following our passions and dreams, they can also enslave us. We can easily find ourselves trapped in the masculine driven world, overdoing and over-accomplishing, or trading in our innate gifts of sensitivity and emotional intelligence for more “practical” characteristics.
While we all have to find balance between our feminine and masculine sides, we women may have additional work in uncovering our feminine gifts that have been buried through growing up socialized to a masculine favored culture. This is one of the reasons I believe that women are so drawn to yoga. Yoga and meditation show us our true selves. A regular yoga practice allows us the space to uncover what was once clouded by illusion- our true nature. In a traditional yogic sense this means our godlike nature, the Atman, or highest self. But there are layers upon layers that must be unveiled before we realize this truth, and this involves shedding our false identities. This shedding of layers comes through the stillness and concentration of yoga, pranayama and meditation, done consistently and without distraction.
The problem is that for most busy women, fitting in regular yoga practices throughout the week can be difficult and may not be on the top of the priority list. Even when she is able to practice regularly, this woman is also doing countless other things that day that suck up her mental capacity and her physical and subtle energy. So while the yoga class certainly benefits her, she is likely faced with the same stresses and demands that she entered with once she leaves. From my own experiences leading and attending yoga retreats, there is an undeniable positive effect that washes over someone who spends a few days, a week, or longer practicing yoga in the company of soulful community, away from distractions and immersed in nature. For a woman this opportunity for stillness and space allows her to reestablish the roots that connect her so intimately with Mother Nature and with her own inner nature, which very likely has been clouded. With this gift of clarity she is better able to stand in her truth and claim her innate womanly gifts.
While recently leading a 5 day intensive women’s retreat in Costa Rica, I witnessed incredible personal transformations, in both the participants and in myself.
I watched women find their inner nature through connection to outer nature. I witnessed them share their stories, laugh, play, cry, and feel deeply. We practiced yoga openly and presently while shedding layers of false identities, all with great love and respect for ourselves and each other. We courageously put fire to what no longer served us, sang our songs of hope and intention to the new moon, and cleansed our naked bodies in the healing waters of the river. We danced under waterfalls, slept to the sounds of the jungle and nourished our bodies with foods from the Earth. It was such a profound experience that words simply cannot do it justice, and it occurred because a group of women were called together to make it happen. I’ve had the immense privilege of sharing these types of experiences not only on this retreat, but on all of the retreats I have lead.
The power that awakens when one gives herself the gift of stillness, yoga, nature and community is simply undeniable.
In addition to the benefits stated above, you deserve to give yourself the gift of a yoga retreat. Maybe no one has told you that before, but you deserve self-care, deep love, connection, stillness and space to be your true self. You deserve the adventure, the relaxation, the stillness, the play, and the breath of fresh air. It’s easy to think of reasons why you can’t go on a yoga retreat, or why you think you shouldn’t. However if you find yourself called to one, try challenging yourself to think of all the reasons you should attend. Even if you aren’t sure how to make it happen, don’t lose sight of your desire. Barriers can be shifted or eliminated, and an entire world of possibility will open up when you allow yourself to answer that call. For each of us the call looks different and for each of us we will discover something unique. We are wise, creative and powerful women, and we all deserve the opportunity to dive into our own greatness on a yoga retreat.