We stood at the side of our partner. Baxter instructed us to put one hand on the partner's forehead and the other at the base of her head. With an index finger and thumb we lifted her head up with slight pressure in the upper neck grooves and watched as her spine lengthened. This simple partner exercise demonstrated what inner lift feels like.
Then I got to practice my own inner lift as I climbed up and down the 100 or so steep footsteps to the Sky Temple twice each day for our yoga classes. By focusing my attention on the lift, it seemed to help ease the stress on my knees and the ache in my thighs. Living in the flat lands now, I am not used to climbing hills and stairs.
When I signed up for this yoga retreat in Yelapa, Mexico led by Baxter Bell, I never imagined it would be so much fun. I haven't laughed and danced this much with 30 new and old friends in a very long time.
Our group came from across the United States and included beginning yoga students as well as yoga teachers. I got to enjoy the retreat along with my college friend Linda and her yoga buddy Sandy. And the icing on my birthday cake was that my roommate for the week was Lily, my friend since we were 10 years old.
The incessant pounding of the ocean waves kept us awake at night along with the bug bites. In the morning we compared notes on how much sleep we had gotten that night. And yet we never missed a yoga class.
Each morning we climbed the steep and narrow steps from our spacious open air apartment to the dirt and stone village path. We passed uniformed school children, men on horseback and villagers carrying their loads as there are no cars at Yelapa, only some ATV four-wheelers.
We arrived at Yelapa via boat from Puerto Vallarta. We left the hustle and bustle of that tourist city for the caws of the chakalaka, the thrill of crossing the swiftly moving river, and the brilliant green and blue views from the treetop yoga studio.
At each meal at Casa de los Suenos, we sat at different tables so we could get to know our fellow travelers.
Judith Roth created and built the stunning Sky Temple yoga studio with the help of friends and villagers. She also shared with us her inspiring life story and insights into the culture and village life of Yelapa.
One night Judith took us to a local family's home where they prepared for us a delicious fish and rice dinner in their courtyard. Along the way we stopped at a small "shop" where we handed to a grateful Mexican woman the shoes and clothes that we had brought from home (on Judith's recommendation). The items were then sold for reasonable prices to the villagers. In some small ways we contributed to the community while they refreshed our lives.
Not only did I leave Mexico with an "inner yoga lift," I also carried with me an "inner spirit lift" from being with friends, experiencing new sights and sounds, moving and stretching my body, and delighting in the beauty of the jungle and sea.
Where have you traveled recently? What contributes to your inner lift?
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