Reflections on our First Yoga Writing Retreat

At the beginning of the retreat, women were reserved and sheepish about their abilities as writers and yogis. They said things such as, “I am not a writer” or “I am really out of shape,” or “I wasn’t sure if I could do this because I haven’t written in years.”

I still had muscle memory for the same self-doubt about both writing and yoga. The day of the retreat, I felt a parallel self-doubt about co-facilitating. I felt like I had been hit by a kick ball searching for my breath as my face flushed and jaw clenched. But my anxiety melted with the warmth from all of the brave women at the retreat and familiar loving faces of my cousin and aunt, best friend and her sister.

That’s the thing about doubt- we all have it. But at some point we just decide to show up and do the work, whatever that work may be. And yes, it can feel like work to sit with your own thoughts, to dig deeper, to be truly still in a society that says go. We let ourselves be vulnerable. We trust in others and ourselves. Seventeen women ranging from teenagers to grandmothers decided to do just that-cut through doubt, be open to new experiences- on a frigid January day at the new Art Partnership’s new space in downtown Fargo, APT.

Formerly a military recruitment office, APT is a “creative incubator” for artist studios and gatherings. The passionate artists and TAP members already livened up the space by painting the walls with warm, earthy tones and chalkboard paint, adorning it with their art, and comfy vintage couches and lamps. Our retreat was TAP’s first event so it was a mutual exciting first collaboration.

Registered Yoga Teacher Andrea Krecji Paradis was a dream co-facilitator and yoga teacher. She has a radiance, wisdom, and also down-to-earth humor that illuminates the room. She nudges us to challenge ourselves for growth in a gentle way.

Why writing and yoga? Writing and art inspire connection and healing from our collective wounds. I believe that there’s truth in what Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do sit at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing can make us feel raw at times, like shedding a skin. This is how we discover our deepest truths, deal with pain, document our lives, and share our joy. I believe that writing saved me in more ways than one. It has been a medicine, an elixir, a well for vitality and radiance.

Putting the pen to paper or your keys to a computer is an act of both empowerment and liberation. I am sure that we all have different reasons for being here, but I think the common thread that unites us is our desire to connect with our creativity, our deepest truths, and cultivate peace.

Each one of us has a unique story that lives inside of us, but sometimes that story gest buried. Maybe you just need someone to encourage you to unearth all the multitudes that you contain a la Whitman. Your stories matter. They deserve to be excavated.

Women braved a new experience with open hearts. We wrote, we discussed, we did yoga asanas and yoga nidra. Most of all, we connected. We devoted time to stillness, cultivating self-care. We trusted each other enough to share the wounds we carry, along with the joy and healing. Participants opened up during the final writing experience, sharing their vulnerable writing about grief, depression, anxiety, and their journey towards self-forgiveness.

Invigorated by this retreat, Andrea and I plan on taking this show on the road! We are planning a Bismarck retreat in early April and are still looking for event spaces. We have even discussed going where Andrea has connections in Wilmar and Montana. I would love it if you would join us, or if it’s not your thing-please help us spread the word! Thank you all and namaste.

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