Last summer I had the great fortune to travel to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, to the famous yoga retreat, Kripalu. Inspired to take this trip by one of my longtime friends, I had no idea that it would be such a true experience of JOY!

The beginning of my ‘Unmasking the Soul’ workshop started at 7 p.m. on the Thursday night. When we arrived, upon entering the room, we were asked to be seated in a circle whereupon our teacher, Linda Novick, led us in a short guided meditation to help us set our intentions for the workshop. We were instructed to create a collage depicting our intentions and then mount them on the bulletin board at the front of the room. After completing my collage and seeing it hanging next to my fellow artists’ work, feelings of inadequacy, self-judgement, and competitiveness surfaced.

Lesson One: Inner Acceptance and Non-Judgement

It took until morning for me to arrive at the decision to focus on self-acceptance for the entire weekend. I knew that choosing to be kind and compassionate would help me to produce the art that I truly desired. Creating a weekend of non-judgement and acceptance, especially with myself, would no doubt lead to inner peace.

Lesson Two: Dive In- to get the FULL Experience!

One could easily wander about in a relaxed manner, checking out whatever one wished at random ( which is exactly what we did on our first day at Kripalu), and one could even spend one’s entire stay doing just this. However, we had a slightly different agenda. Not knowing when we would return, we wanted to embody the FULL experience! This meant awaking at 6:00 a.m. to get to the early morning yoga and non-stop activities, which filled our day till 9:00 p.m. each night.

I decided to throw myself ‘in’ fully and experience all that Kripalu had to offer and I must say that it was incredible! My favourite ‘all-in’ experience was the ‘Noon Dance’ where I moved my body in ways it didn’t know were possible and as a result ended up in a full body sweat. Even my hair was drenched! My new moto “Go all-in or go home”!

Lesson Three: The ‘Sure Principle- Stay Open + Positive

One thing that’s for ‘Sure’ is that I used that word at all times and whenever possible. I think that my decision to stay open and positive helped me to create one of the my most memorable vacations ever.

Why not try things out that you’ve never done before? Like they say- “everything in life that you want is attained when you step out of your comfort zone”. Absolutely!

Lesson Four: The Rekindling of Old Friendships can be Amazing

We’ve known each other since we were innocent six year olds at summer camp and have remained good friends since then. When she mentioned this trip, I knew it would be a great opportunity to connect and share a once in a lifetime experience, and all I can say is that’s exactly what it was.

We had tons of together time, sharing fun stories, and creating new memories, and we also managed to have our ‘alone’ time too, pursuing our own interests and building new friendships. I can definitely say that I will be forever grateful for having shared this trip with her.

Lesson Five: Yoga and a Glass of Wine- the Perfect Balance

What can I say? We were up at 6:00 a.m. to take our respective yoga classes and then another one at noon ( Yoga dance, which I previously mentioned was by far my favourite movement experience!), and finally after a long, exciting, adventure filled day, before dinner, we would drink a glass of wine together, in our room. During this time we would share our stories from the day including our day’s activities.

Taking time to relax and share was a wonderful way to wind down for the day and enjoy each other’s company.

In the end, all I can express is gratitude for an incredible journey and a once in a lifetime experience.