One of Fabletics’ yoga-loving graphic designers recently celebrated another turn around the sun in a truly unique way—on a movement retreat in Mexico. Her journey led to multiple discoveries and a solid sense of who she wants to be this year.
I’m smiling, laying on my back as strangers sing that familiar birthday song with an added CHA CHA CHA! for local flare. According to the Central Time Zone and the choir of voices around me, I officially just lived a quarter century!
I woke up early the following morning for Silent Practice: the warm-up to our day of movement, the beginning of MOVE Retreat and the onset of my 25th year. I was told there would be hot water in the bungalow I shared with 4 other women, but soon found that the only hot water I’d encounter would be splashing in the pools of the neighboring hot springs waterpark, routinely emptied and filled with fresh thermal water each day. Forgoing a hot shower for a week didn’t faze me, though. I wasn’t here for luxury or comfort. I was here to move.
The morning air greeted exposed skin, sharp but refreshing on the brisk walk across Chalananda, the holistic healing center hosting our retreat. I carried few expectations walking into this week, trusting in the description the MOVE Retreat promised: From morning ‘til night we will explore rhythm, balance, weight, momentum, stillness, spirals, tempo, inversion, acceleration, rest, exhaustion and ease. I left my shoes outside the entryway of the Shala, an airy room with bamboo-woven curtains as walls. The far wall was drawn to reveal a resting lake, quiet and untouched except for the birds that inhabit the sanctuary. The other attendees—fellow-movement lovers—were scattered across the floor wrapped in colorful Mexican blankets. I followed suit, wrapping myself against the cold as I sat to meditate on the morning-lit water encased by volcanic mountains.
25 felt big. And I was here to make it a bit bigger, full of intention. At each end of an age, I compile intentions to bring into my new year. I chose to spend this birthday away from friends and home to set the tone for independence, while strengthening from the inside out. I wanted to create a noteworthy memory to remind myself throughout this year that I alone can create my own happiness. Most of us meditated with eyes closed, as if taking in the view energetically. I felt my intention settling in. Gratitude wove inward and outward with each inhale and exhale. I am exactly where I want to be.
Over the week we moved alone and together. We conditioned from regimented core work and deep-belly laughter. We ate huge Mexican vegetarian meals (feasts, really) and somehow moved again right after. Guest teachers from all backgrounds and methodologies led us through their movement expertise. Each day we experienced our bodies from different angles. Upside-down, in a swaying lake-side hammock, on someone else’s feet, dancing blindfolded in a thermal pool with 35 other swimmers.
There was a magic to Chalananda. It’s a quaint yet enchanting environment for a retreat. We all felt it and allowed the shared experience of the scenery and the coursework to funnel us deep into the center of something amazing together. I know to grow I must place myself where challenge, ability and opportunity meet. To get stronger I must push up against the boundaries that formed previous emotional and physical limitations. MOVE retreat at Chalananda made it easy to do just that.
Photos by Andi Mcleish