restorative yoga camp
Last month I flew halfway around the world to do nothing.
I flew to LA then Seattle then on a teeny tiny plane to Montana then I jumped in a van and drove out to a place called Feathered Pipe Ranch, about an hour out of Helena, Montana, and precisely in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
When I told people I was going to absolutely nowhere it was met with wow amazing cool so lucky wow and so it should, but lure of ‘absolutely nowhere’ does not work so strongly on me. I appreciate nature but if I’m being straight up honest, I get more excited about city holidays – take me to Tokyo, to Berlin, to Chiang Mai or to Paris any day of the week. The middle of nowhere? Not so much.
Why did I go to Restorative Yoga camp?
To become a better Restorative Yoga teacher and to learn from the best. Judith Lasater is essentially the reason why we have the practice of restorative yoga for deep relaxation. She’s been teaching for more than forty years and she quite literally wrote the book(s) on Restorative. As Judith is in her 70s and her daughter Lizzie teaches more and more; I knew I had limited time left to study with the superwoman herself, and there was no way an Australian training was happening any time soon.
Was it like, a legit ranch situation?
Feathered Pipe Ranch is not technically a ranch; it’s a retreat centre. It’s a retreat centre with a pond just big enough to evoke a little panic when you float too far downstream on a blow up lilo and to canoe around with people who know how to row a boat (yep not me). It has a redwood sauna, a hot tub, two massage rooms and onsite therapists, a very sweet walking track and lots of long, soft grass.
What did I do (aside from all the napping, I mean, Restorative Yoga)
Twice a day we met for yoga. In the mornings we did some talking, some moving and a 20 minute savasana, always. In the afternoons, we did all out restorative. To be surrounded by people who regularly teach and practice restorative was new for me. To talk non-stop, with enthusiasm, with evidence, with love about restorative for hours each day was actually more exciting than I thought possible. I wanted the yoga sessions to last hours longer.
Before coming to the retreat I had been teaching close to 20 classes a week to justify being away for a month. If you’re not in the yoga teaching world, that might not seem like a lot, but in reality its far too much. When I arrived, the spaciousness of the retreat and the idea of being in one single space for an ENTIRE WEEK after spending months – the last two years, really, public transporting to multiple studios and businesses every single day – was incredibly jarring.
Outside of yoga and meal times I found myself trying to fill the day up with Relaxing Things To Do. I felt that with all this free time I would have to achieve something – write a thousand blog posts, write a goddamn book, figure out the meaning of life, I mean what could not be achieved with so many spare hours in the day and so much energy from the deep sleep, the 2hrs daily restorative, the not cooking or cleaning, the spring water - I mean, it was too much.
It took three days for this mild undertone of anxiety to wear off. I stopped getting my computer out, stopped expecting something of this free time and started to let go. Then what did I do? I spent more time in the sun than ever in my life. I played with my retreat besties, Sae and Koichi, two amazing kids (3 and ) from Mito, Japan. I played baseball, I floated on the pond, I read in the sauna until my books fell apart. I didn’t wear shoes or makeup. I went for morning walks with my roommate, who is in her 70s and lives locally. She described to me what the winter in Montana looks like. How the snow builds up onto the branches of the trees and slowly floats down. How deeply quiet it is.
During the time I was there, I had very little urge to write so I didn’t force it. What I did do, was sit on my bed after each session and write everything I remembered down, clearly and neatly. Because of the space, the time and all the restorative, I remember so much of what was taught. Usually I struggle to retain a large amount of information but this time everything feels very clear. I have revisited the notes already multiple times, and there is so much goodness that continues to be revealed and explored and slowly practiced and taught in my classes.
What did you get out of it
I feel more committed to restorative yoga and the simple practice of rest more than ever. The reason why I teach restorative is not the same reason as many people might. I’m not into gentle yoga at all. I sleep well, I don’t have any injuries or illness. I don’t have a highly stressful lifestyle. In terms of the restorative world I am young and I naturally have a high amount of energy. I see it as deep and necessary rest. I see it as getting to know yourself. I see it as exploring intuition in a super grounded way.
I practice restorative because it makes my life better. It makes me a nicer person to be around. It makes me see the world in a more positive light. I’m more creative. Life seems to flow with more ease. When I was teaching 20 classes a week it was my absolute saviour. I teach restorative because it is my life’s lesson to learn how to slow down. Slowness is not my natural state. It sounds silly – but even the simple practice of folding blankets neatly has taught me so much. I have a tendency to rush everything and it’s a pattern I’m slowly breaking with this practice; and it filters out into all aspects of my life.
What I directly got out of it was so much more depth to teach in classes and workshops. So much more to share and ways to support people coming to class. Confirmation that it really is my goal to bring restorative to more of a mainstream acceptance. To make restorative as cool as it needs to be in a seriously rest deprived society.
But indirectly – Since arriving back home things have fallen away, without me planning or thinking about it. I’ve left a studio in place of an additional restorative class and private restorative sessions. I’ve spent less time on public transport than I could have imagined before Montana. Perhaps more tellingly, I sit here now, on what is my very first regular day off since I started teaching three years ago. I feel almost the same way today as when I arrived at the Feathered Pipe Ranch.
What am I to do with all this space?
What do I need to achieve?
Do I deserve this?
Whatever the fuck I want.
want to try out an immersive restorative experience for yourself? come hang at DEEP REST Sunday Oct. 28th we’ll do all things relaxation, eat some delicious food and talk about how we can bring this magic into every. single. day.
Can’t make it?
Get in touch for private sessions. It’s a curated rest session just for you – no prop sharing in sight.