There’s no reason Laura and I should’ve survived January 14th, 2016. We were three hours deep into a ten hour bus ride through the mountains of the northern Philippines when the driver decided he wanted to get there a little faster than usual.
So he doubled the speed limit.
Now, “bus” is a very generous term for the 1980s utility van with makeshift seats bolted into the floor.
We careened around hairpin turns, blindly racing down one lane roads at 80mph. No guardrail to speak of, we stared straight down steep cliff faces clutching each others’ hands thinking, ‘at least we’ll go out together.’
I made a joke about how the constant whipping from side to side was a great core workout. By the end of the ride, our shoulders and necks didn’t think it was so funny.
When we finally arrived, we were stiff in the way that only planes, trains, and automobiles can make you. It’s the terrible, cramped feeling of being totally bottled up in your own body.
The first things unpacked were our yoga mats. When Laura and I travel, even though we only bring carry-on size backpacks, we always find room for our mats.
We’ve all the done the vacations that include tons of food and drinks and you get back home almost feeling worse off than when you left. So for anyone who has ever said “I need a vacation from my vacation,” every Moveable Feast Retreat has daily yoga classes. It’s a basic human right, in our humble opinion.
For those of you who haven’t tried yoga, your doctor and annoying next door neighbor are totally right, you HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT. A good yoga class moves every joint of your body in every direction. You catch your breath in a way that brings you home to yourself.
I first started teaching yoga back in 2004. What started as an interest in eastern philosophy became a full fledged plunge into the intersection of movement and meditation.
Back then, we still used cameras with FILM. Here’s a shot of me teaching my first ever yoga class at a park in Chicago:
There’s a word in Sanskrit that so perfectly describes what I look for from yoga: Spanda. It’s the drumbeat to which all things exist. The same drumbeat that exists at the center of the universe is mirrored in the center of the earth all the way down to the beating of your heart. When I’m able to slow my breath and sync my movement to my breath, I find a connection to that pulsation, to spanda. Through that connection, I become more attuned to the earth below my feet, to the energy of the place I’m in, and to the needs of those around me. Yoga becomes a journey not about my ability to do pushups, but about how deeply I can connect to each ever-passing moment.
Over the past decade of teaching, I’ve come to realize that yoga is so not about doing a pose. We’re not static beings and shouldn’t strive for a statuesque stillness. My classes emphasize dynamic expressions of natural human movement. For those just starting out, we use simple movement patterns to remind joints and muscles of what full range of motion feels like. For the more seasoned movers, we allow those simple movement patterns to build complexity, allowing the body to unravel a fuller expression of itself.
Travel doesn’t need to leave you tied up in knots. The perfect trip not only involves community, frivolity, good food, and good drink, but also the ability to come back stronger and longer than you were when you left.
So every morning at the castle, before you find your warm and toasty croissant, you’ll find your way downstairs to the warm and welcoming 600 year old wine cellar turned yoga studio to stretch your way into the new day. Get grounded. Get present. And find yourself so much more present to enjoy all the delights that Provence as to offer.
Oh and hey, guess what… We’re sweetening the deal:
Sign up before May 15th and we’ll take $200 off the price.
There are only so many bedrooms in the castle so get on it already. CLICK HERE and tell us YOU’RE IN!