“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
Spring is finally upon us. And with it comes new life, change, and growth. Reflecting on your life, when have you learned the most? When do you feel you have truly grown, changed, and developed into a truer, more genuine version of your self? Sometimes growth is brought about by discomfort (i.e. “growing pains”), sometimes it is simply change itself, like the changing of the seasons, that prompts growth within. Yoga and travel have been major conduits for change in my life. In a recent trip to Sedona, I was grateful for the opportunity to combine both.
Sometimes we travel for fun, sometimes we travel for work, sometimes we travel to retreat and escape our daily lives. Whatever your reason for travel, it can always be an opportunity for personal growth. A friend and I decided to head west to select the next retreat location for Blue Lotus Yoga Retreats. Although the trip was primarily for business with scheduled site tours, fun and personal growth occurred incidentally.
Sedona, Arizona seemed a natural choice. It is a charming town set among the majestic “Red Rock” monoliths. With few towering buildings to obstruct the view, it offers 360 degree views of stunning landscapes. It offers the novice hiker, such as myself, the opportunity to safely explore this sacred part of the world within the safety of their comfort zone. I am self proclaimed “scaredy cat” when it comes to heights. Wanting to explore this beauty and practice yoga, we set out with our guide who picked us up at our hotel. He would lead us up the rocks and guide our yoga practice.
Among the higher plateaus of red rock are “energy vortexes.” Several locals offered us their own ideas of what an energy vortex is. A more scientific school of thought is that the crystals in the red rocks are constantly absorbing the energy from the sun, and then reflect it back at a myriad of different angles. Wanting to believe, yet being a skeptic, I nodded and smiled as our guide pointed out all of the tiny crystals and points of light visible in the rock when one pauses to look a bit closer. The energy vortexes also happen to be in an area above tectonic plates which shift underground, also generating energy. He showed us the visible fault lines in the rock. As our guide pointed out the ancient dwellings carved out along the side of rock, another take on the energy vortexes is bestowed upon us. The land is and was, considered sacred among a variety of Native American tribes. As I felt the sunshine gently warm my skin, breathed in the scent of wild juniper, and took in the glorious sight of the bright blue sky against the red rocks, it was easy to see how the land could be considered sacred no matter what your philosophy or religious background.
Our guide led us up the rocks gradually. As he describes all of the medicinal and edible uses of the various plants around us, my ignorance and misconception of the plants as useless desert scrub fades away. We pause to smell and taste the vegetation around us. The knowledge, patience, and confidence our guide provides lead me to sample these things without hesitation.
Because the climb is gradual, and because I am impressed at the knowledge and genuine appreciation of the land our guide instills in us, I do not realize how high we are going. I am suddenly afraid as our guide shows us where we will be practicing our yoga. It is a very flat, collection of rocks jutting out from where we stand. My stomach feels fluttery and light. My heart rate quickens. Seeing my face, our guide mentions that we can pick somewhere different if I am not comfortable with that spot. He mentions though, that it is his favorite spot and gently urges me to face my fears. I look at my friend’s face and it is warm, encouraging and without fear. I don’t like being afraid. It makes me feel weak. Our guide offers me his arm and leads me to the jutting group of rocks. Soon the fear melts away as I begin to breathe and absorb the warmth of the sun. I allow the movement of my body and my breath to absorb the fear. My shame melts away. I feel warm and light. We giggle when we begin to chant-something we are unaccustomed to, but open to trying. Hearing our combined voices together is somehow comforting. I think of how a beginning yogi may feel in one of my classes the first time they try meditation-somewhat awkward, but yearning for the benefit the practice brings. My empathy for “newbies” grows. As our practice ends, I feel free of fear and anxiety. I have a deepened appreciation of the natural beauty around me, and walk away knowing a little bit more about a different part of the world, the land, and civilizations that thrived there before ours. I also walk away knowing that I want to offer similar experiences to others and with a renewed feeling of empathy for my students when nudged to try something new.
This is why we should travel. When we travel we not only get to have fun, and relax, but we continue to grow and learn when we venture outside our comfort zones. This is what I want people to experience when they choose to retreat with Blue Lotus Yoga Retreats. It is the same reason I became a yoga instructor. I want to share with others the joy, peace and health yoga can offer. Combine yoga with the transformational effects of travel, and you will get the best of both worlds.
Jennifer Derham, MA, EdS, NCSP
Blue Lotus Yoga Retreats Owner
200-Hour Yoga Alliance Certified