I had never been on a yoga retreat before, but the thought of the blissful serenity of being in a remote location, eating healthy foods and doing yoga twice a day was right up my alley. My friend, Jennifer, told me about one she was thinking about attending, with an instructor she had taken before, so we finally made the time and booked it for September in Ojai, California. I’m a fairly open-minded individual, but I had no idea what to expect and that was all part of the excitement. I just prayed they had wine!
I took a half-day from work Friday and headed out for the 2 hour drive from Santa Monica, blasting fun tunes and self-help CD’s to get myself in the mood. After a few twists and turns up the mountains of Ojai off the 101 Freeway, I saw the trail leading up to the yurts (round, semi-permanent tents, usually covered with some type of canvas) that house nomads like us yogis for sleep and yoga workouts. Serene and remote were definitely the way to describe this beautiful location in the Ojai mountains.
The grass leading up to the main house was green and lush, despite a hot summer, and even the pebbled drive was delicate as I walked up the pathway to go inside. There was a screened-in porch housing comfy couches with Buddha’s and lotus plants placed perfectly throughout. As I walked further inside, I immediately hit a wide-open, hardwood floor kitchen with a beautiful island where hors d’oeuvre’s were being prepped by a chef. A long wooden table held a plethora of red wine (my prayers were answered) and friendly faces were all around. I wasn’t sure who knew who, but was ready to meet like-minded people and make new friends.
Claudia, the massage therapist on-site, introduced herself and walked me around the grounds for a quick tour. We headed outside to an amphitheater with a fire pit, then around a bend to a steam room and outdoor showers (I took a mental note to wear my bathing suit and shower outside just in case the communal bathrooms by my sleep yurt were not as nice). Gazing left, there was a jacuzzi with two women already floating in pure bliss, introducing themselves as the yoga instructors hosting the weekend. “It’s gnat-o’clock!” said Kate, a petite and bubbly soul, as tiny insects floated above the steaming tub and glasses of chilled white wine. Laughing, Claudia and I walked off to the last step of our tour, the bathrooms.
The communal restrooms, for those of us staying in the sleep yurts, were cleaner than expected and better than what I thought we would have to use. Claudia showed me how to maneuver using the toilet with a couple of steps: open contraption, put paper down regardless of going #1 or #2, do your business, then flush with foot by stepping on a pedal at the base of the toilet. No big deal. I’ve been to camp. A port-a-pottie would be worse. Claudia left and I realize how badly I needed to go after the long drive. I tried to remember the steps… #1 open, #2 paper down, #3 pee, #4 stand up, #5 step on pedal… WHOOSH! A fiery breath spews out and engulfs my paper sack of pee, leaving a tiny cloud of smoke and the smell of a burning campfire! Holy shit! That was a surprise!
I left the bathroom laughing and walked over to my sleep yurt to unpack and write about my already crazy adventure. My new yurt-mate, Lauren, asked how the bathrooms were. “Funny you ask,” I say, “I’ve gone to the bathroom in port-a-potties, outside in the bushes, even in a lake, but this was like nothing I’ve ever experienced… there’s fire in the toilet!” Lauren jumps up and yells, “No way! I’m grabbing my camera!” as she does just that and races out the door. I like this place already.
INTENTION: Try new things. You never know what you will learn.