Mexico Yoga Retreat

Last weekend, I traveled down the pacific coast to attend a yoga retreat in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. By the way, I'm fully aware of how LA that sentence sounds. Truthfully, if you told me a year ago that I'd be traveling alone and staying in a Mexico villa on the ocean to practice yoga with 10 people whom I've never met before, I probably would have fallen over laughing. To say the least, I've come a long way in terms of how comfortable I am with meeting people and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, not once, but now twice in the same month (this was only two weeks after I put myself on a plane to Camp Gritty!) 

My yoga practice/active life in general is something I don't usually talk much about besides a small mention of going to a class or on a run here or there. Truthfully, I've been practicing yoga for nearly four years now. I started out in college on an embarrassingly pink mat I bought for ten bucks at Old Navy. I was super shy about it and kept my yogi life on the down low. I progressed through youtube videos and became a huge fan of spending my off-days from the gym doing warrior two with youtube channels such as yogawithadrienne and yogawithtim. I did every 30 day challenge, every strengthen and lengthen series, and every total body workout there was to offer. It wasn't until May that I went to my first studio class at One Down Dog. Now, after four months of actually "going to yoga" religiously, I signed up for a Labor Day ~retreat~. I originally requested the weekend off to go backpacking up north, and when that fell through, I was this close to telling work that I no longer needed the time off, that is, until Katherine reeled me in with her charm and had me signing up spontaneously and on the spot just a month before take off. 

Just so you know,  I'm about to get all spiritual-yogi on you. 

The theme of the trip was Sadhana, which translates to a daily self-care practice. Sadhana can be any activity you do as part of a daily regimen to make yourself feel good. This can include something as simple as waking up, washing your face, and making a cup of coffee. Sadhana also extends to meditating, drawing, journaling, exercising, etc. In the words of Adrienne (the youtube account I mentioned earlier) "find what feels good." Then, for the sake of your own mental health, stick to it. 

A huge goal of mine during this trip was to stay present and disconnect, which is such a hard thing to balance when I'm trying to stay active enough on the internet to make this blog more than just a hobby. Having limited access to cell service definitely helped me out, and I'm currently doing my best to continue setting my phone aside to enjoy life as it comes. Also, I just learned that by focusing on being present, I can actually plant trees using this forest app. Pretty darn cool. 

In case you are wondering what exactly happens on a yoga retreat, or if you have this conception that we sit on our mats by the beach all day long with our legs crossed in lotus pose meditating next to gongs, please allow me to explain what really went on during this retreat:

- a super exciting welcome brought to us by sea turtles laying eggs on the shore at sunset, followed by baby turtles making their way out into the ocean at sunrise
- a snorkeling/paddle boarding trip to Marietas Islands National Park on a boat with a dance floor and an open bar where the staff passed out margaritas and performed a dance routine to the Backstreet Boys' Everybody
- 2 yoga classes a day with a direct view of the ocean 
- a nightly journaling exercise and meditation 
 - very limited access to internet and cell service, allowing time to disconnect and live in the present
- a lesson on thai yoga massage and a how-to on looking someone in the eye and telling them to back off (a surprisingly useful life tool)
- edible facemasks a.k.a. putting food on our faces and laughing about how good it tastes and how funny it looks
- taking a dip in the pool or diving into the ocean waves whenever we felt like it
- long walks on the beach while falling deep into conversation with new friends 
- the most amazing feel-good ayurvedic cooking by Chef Michaela Maxwell 
- also tacos, duh 
- adult coloring out of a swear word coloring book
- absolutely dying of cuteness over puppies running around on the villa property
- comfortable clothes, curly beach hair, and bra-less afternoons
- falling asleep to the soothing sound of the ocean ft. the pitter patter of rain during nightly thunderstorms
- impromptu photo shoots and as expected: lots of (one) down dogs

Believe it or not, after living so close to the border nearly my whole life, this was my first time to Mexico. I honestly never prioritized visiting this country, because I didn't think it would be much different than Southern California. Wrongo. Of course, I only saw one tiny portion of Mexico, but from what I witnessed, it's a country filled with beauty and culture that I'm so grateful to have experienced, especially during this day in age. I don't intend to be ignorant toward things that are going on in scattered places throughout Mexico, but I do just want to make note of how I felt sort of heartbroken by all of the stereotypes forced upon us in the U.S. and I don't think it's justifiable to believe any of them before spending time with locals in the country itself.

Since returning, I've been making a conscious effort to slow down and be present. On my first day back, I downloaded Headspace, a meditation app, and have been using it nightly. Today will be day four. I don't have another trip planned until October, so until then, I'll be focusing on work and continuing to indulge in self care. I'm also going to spend some of my spare time keeping in touch with new friends and reading/learning about van life (more on that later). Take care, and I'll write again soon with new recipes. 



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Maira Gall