The last two and a half years have brought unanticipated turmoil. Close friends and family know what I’m referring to but most of you don’t. I’m not ready to discuss it now, but I plan to soon. Just know this past weekend I traveled to the NC mountains for a much needed yoga retreat.
Black Mountain Yarn Shop
On my way to Asheville, I stopped briefly at Black Mountain Yarn Shop. The staff was very friendly and helpful. They offer a great yarn selection from Malabrigo & Madeline Tosh to Charlotte based Fable Fibers. I was amazed by all of the colorways they had to choose from. I highly recommend stopping there on your next visit to the mountains.
Blue Lotus Spring Detox Retreat at Prama Institute
The yoga retreat led by Jill and Carrington from Blue Lotus yoga studio in Raleigh took place at the Prama Institute. A group of about 20 yogis attended the event all with different experience levels, and reasons. Mine was to relax, hit the reset button on life and move forward.
Prama is just north of Asheville in Marshall. My Subaru curved alongside the rushing French Broad river before turning left onto Panhandle Road where I saw the first Prama sign. To me the sign meant the road to inner peace was closer and I couldn’t wait to get to my destination.
I followed the white signs up the mountain side. The weather looked menacing but it was only misting. Upon arrival I checked in with Jill and unloaded the car before making my way into Prama. She gave me the lay of the land and showed me to my room where I would share the next two nights with two other ladies. I unpacked and headed upstairs with my knitting while I waited for the others to arrive.
Lay Down Your Burdens
Prama is made up of two separate domes. The first dome you see is the yoga room. Around 5:30 pm Friday Jill led us through a 90 minute practice where she encouraged us to lay down our burdens. I shed a tear or two as I thought about what brought me here and relinquished my feelings to the mat. The session left me relaxed and one step closer to inner peace. And then it was time for the main reason we were there.
Next we ate. And by ate I mean gorged on the delicious vegetarian dinner Sharon, Executive Chef, made for us. The smells led us into the community dining hall where we piled brown rice, roasted broccoli, carrot and cabbage slaw, Greek yogurt, homemade chili sauce, and kidney beans with spinach high on our plates. It was amazing.
Breakfast brought us cooked oats, cereal, granola, nuts, raisins, more yogurt, freshly brewed coffee and bread. Saturday’s dinner was vegetable curry served with white rice more yogurt and chili sauce. Sunday’s lunch was millet cakes with miso gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, salad, and apple crisp. I ate two helpings every single lunch and dinner. I just couldn’t help myself – it was that good!
Chanting & Meditation
Each morning we sleepily made our way to the yoga room where we were greeted by candlelight and yawns. We settled into a comfortable position piled high on top of bolsters, blankets, blocks, and pillows (whatever we could find).
One hour of om’s, Sanskrit mantras and silent meditation started our days as the sun began to rise. Having never chanted before and very new to meditation I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would be relaxing and worth the early start.
Meaning behind the mantras touched me in an unexpected way and I cried each morning. Releasing again the emotion locked up inside with goal of moving beyond it.
Lengthen, Fold, Twist, Shavasana
Carrington led us through a two hour practice Saturday morning before lunch. It was tough. And I loved every minute of it. She explained the poses were meant to lengthen, fold, twist our bodies before resting into shavasana. We were ridding ourselves of the toxins. And as we approached the end of each pose she said “breathe in together, now breathe out together.” When it was over we were greeted by more lovely, delicious, glorious food!
Prama offers many hiking trails onsite and is a short distance from nearby parks along the French Broad. Saturday afternoon I went for a short hike up the Loop Trail. I came across this Private sign with a path leading to a cute mountain cabin.
I decided to turn around and head back to a graveyard trail, which looked much shorter on the map than this service road. And then it started to rain heavily. Accepting that as a sign, I turned around again and headed back to Prama.
Leaving the Sanctuary
Leaving Prama was easy. Returning to the sadness was not. I cried and then I balled the closer I got to home. It sank in that nothing had changed and I still had to live with the past. And yet I was still at peace somehow. Making changes for the better. Viewing the future with a new lens full of promise and hope. Focusing on staying positive, accepting things outside of my control and being the kind, selfless person I used to be.
On my way back home I stopped briefly at Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. The bridge a short drive away from the exit off of Route 40. The gated entrance was closed so I parked my car in front of it (rebel) and walked on in. Unlike the covered bridges Jon and I have visited in Ohio and Virginia, you couldn’t drive up or across this bridge. I walked along a wide path between two fence lines and noticed there was no one else there.
At the beginning of this year I wrote a post about my goals in life. One was explore, explore, explore. And this retreat was one way I challenged myself to do exactly that. I never go to something new by myself. I’m never the first person to do anything. And yet I took it upon myself to do that during this retreat. I was the first to arrive. I knew no one except the teachers and I had only taken one class from each of them. I discovered I can do things, fun things, by myself and meet new people, and survive. It’s funny how us introverts think this isn’t possible or will make us uncomfortable.
I’m so glad I went. I appreciate what Jill and Carrington and yoga and my fellow yogis taught me this weekend. I’m grateful for the experience and hope to return to Prama one day. And you’ll definitely see me on the mat at Blue Lotus, love that place!
Now Breathe Out Together.