By Lisa Sands (woo hoo a guest post on the DDD)

I never thought I would be the “type of person” who would go on a yoga retreat. I thought that sort of thing was for people with way too much time on their hands, people with lots of money to spare, or lots of problems to run from.

But, there I was in the tropical heat of Bali with 20 other women, getting up at 6 a.m. for sunrise yoga, tapping into my goddess nature, wearing sarongs, going without makeup. Thinking. Not thinking. Praying. Listening. Questioning. Thanking. Hating myself. Loving myself. Loving myself some more like it was my job.

How I arrived at the decision to go is not nearly as interesting or important as the experience itself, or the way it changed me afterward. What I did not realize when I put down my deposit, almost a full year before, is how much I would need it when the time came, and how it would fill a void in my life I could not have predicted.

Twenty people, mostly strangers, meeting halfway around the world to practice yoga…is fantastic and special and, yeah, a little uncertain and uncomfortable. And you are the perfect person to go, just as you are, complete with your baggage, sadness, questions and fears.

Everyone is there for a different reason—most come for spiritual growth, reflection, or healing.  Some come to deepen their physical practice. Me? I was there for the adventure—I craved a life shake up. I was feeling aimless and unsettled. I wanted to be somewhere that looked and felt so different than home. I wanted to see if I missed my life and the people I loved. I wanted to get to know me again.  For reasons I can’t really explain, I sensed that I needed to be far away from the familiar so that I could stake a claim for my future self.

Don’t worry if people around you don’t understand. You can go if you are highly experienced or you haven’t advanced beyond beginner slow flow. You don’t have to be a mystical yogi and no, you don’t have to be a practicing Hindu or Buddhist. I don’t identify with those and I still found value in channeling my own understanding of the Divine through yoga and meditation. I think the key to those things is quiet and listening—something that is easier to accomplish far away from all the things I am called to do and be on a daily basis.

I saw the other side of the world—somewhere I’d never thought about— and met happy people living in simplicity and devotion untainted by our distinctly American ideas about abundance. I washed away my own discomfort and self-consciousness in a remote temple pool as part of a centuries-old purification ritual with hundreds of other religious pilgrims and seekers.

I stood at the base of the tallest waterfall I’d ever seen up close and soaked it all in, literally, letting my doubts and fears wash away down a mountain stream in a jungle.

As a steamy dawn prepared to arise from beyond the nearby rice paddies, I witnessed an annual religious procession of thousands of people dressed in white, chanting and playing music. I learned from our hosts at Floating Leaf this was a Melasti Pilgrimage and these “parades” precede Nyepi Day, a New Year celebration.  It was breathtaking and I felt very small and insignificant and, at the same time, connected to something large and amazing.

I came back home with eyes wide open to the beauty of other another culture. I was more confident, at ease, and tolerant of myself and of others. I looked fear in the eye and left it in the dust.  I bonded with other strong, capable women and learned that they, like me, had their own unique, painful, and beautiful journeys and things to confront and reconcile. I learned from them and they are part of me.

So if a little voice is whispering to you and you have an unexplained stirring for something you can’t name, you may be wondering what it is you really need. If you need to break free from expectations, to shout out and wildly proclaim your truth, or if you need to get really quiet and inside yourself, and let a big ugly cry happen, then yeah, a yoga retreat is for you.

Don’t wait. Do it. You’re worth it.

THANK YOU Lisa – I absolutely love this and you and all the Goddesses who journeyed to Bali with me in 2017!

If you are ready to say YES to a yoga retreat, please join me in 2018 as I head back to Floating Leaf Resort for another Shanti, Shanti, Bali Yoga Retreat from March 12 – 18, 2018. We’ll be there during Nyepi, the Balinese New Year festivities so it will be a magical time to be on the island. I’m offering a special NEW YEAR’S Offer on the Bali Yoga Retreat and bringing back the early bird retreat pricing through January 7, so click here for more details about the 2018 Shanti, Shanti, Bali Yoga Retreat.

Or click the image below for more details on upcoming Daily Downward Dog Yoga Retreats to Sedona and Panama in 2018.