Whew! I made it!
When I think about recapping the past week, I honestly don’t even know where to start. I could tell you that it was amazing, that it powerful, even that it was life changing but putting words to such an experience almost seems impossible. Bear with me.
From the moment I got off the plane on Sunday, it was go go go go go. I met up with my roomies at the Denver airport and together we made the trek to Estes Park. It was my first visit to Colorado and I am….SMITTEN! Colorado friends, can I come live with you? I am thoroughly obsessed with your beautiful state, even though I didn’t see an elk, which was my goal for the entire week.
That night, we had a welcome session with Baron and he introduced the staff of senior Baptiste teachers that would be leading sessions during the week. Not really knowing what I was getting myself into then, I realize now what an amazing opportunity it was to practice with these awesome teachers from all over the country. On top of getting to practice with Baron for four hours each day (not as scary as it sounds–promise!), I took two amazing breakout sessions—-Yoga of Service in Action with Paige and Inversions with Kelly. We also watched the premiere of The Africa Yoga Project documentary, which was a whole other experience in itself.
The first day when Baron posed the question “why are you here?”, I really didn’t have a good response. Because I’ve practiced yoga for eight years? Because I want to be a yoga teacher someday? Because it’s a trip to the Rocky Mountains? However, my class with Paige really changed that.
I know, without a doubt, I was there to take that class and connect more with The Africa Yoga Project (AYP). In her class, we discussed how take yoga off the mat and into real life and serving others. Hearing Paige’s story about how she moved from New York to the slums of Kenya to start this life-changing project was, quite simply, transformational. Since AYP’s beginning a few years ago, she has helped to provide hundreds of Kenyans with yoga teacher jobs as well as build schools, community centers and spread the love of yoga in a poverty stricken area. It spoke straight my heart and gave my personal practice a whole other (much) larger purpose. I am so excited for October 2nd!
My time in Estes Park really transformed me as a yogi and a person. As a natural introvert, I was “forced” to get out of my box a little bit and connect with others who I might normally not have gotten a chance to connect with. As much as the week was about the physical yoga practice, it was also about life in general. I really think that going to this was one of the best thing things I’ve ever done for myself in terms of personal growth and awareness. I was able to push myself to new limits both mentally and physically (hellooooo handstands!), and connect with so many amazing people. I learned that the answer to how is YES and I was ready right where I was….no waiting around, just do it!
I really look look forward to attending more Baptiste events in the future and if you guys ever get a chance to go to one….DO IT. I promise you won’t regret it. Practicing yoga in a room of 500 people was almost electrifying, and the breakout sessions and discussions were thought provoking and authentic. It’s funny to me how many people consider yoga to just be a way to work their abs. To me, yoga is what happens when we take what we learn on the mat and use it to empower ourselves and the people around us.
It also really works your abs.
(someday I’ll be able to laugh again…someday)