Summer might feel like it’s going to last forever, but like all good things it will eventually come to an end. Keep the summer vibe alive with a Labour Day weekend retreat in rural Quebec. Enjoy typical long weekend cottage times, sunshine and lakeside lounging, elevated by a feeling of community and nourishing yoga and ayurveda practices to support the transition back to the scheduled life of work or school.
IAYB friends Sylvie Anne Williams and Miranda Chapman are leading this low-key and accessible weekend retreat, Embracing the Whole (Aug 29 – Sept 1). Located on the shores of Lac Aylmer in the Eastern Townships, the retreat is easy to get to for anyone in Quebec, Ontario or the northeastern US.
Sylvie Anne answered a few questions about what to expect from the weekend, and how to tap into the elusive and essential elements of wholeness.
How do we explore and embrace our wholeness?
It really is a lifelong quest and process! Our intention in offering this theme for the retreat was to ensure that we are creating a container where everything can live and where everything is met with love and compassion. Exploring our wholeness sometimes means looking at less desirable parts of ourselves which can often be a very challenging practice. Luckily, there are many great tools.
How does coming together in community, removed from our daily lives, allow us to reconnect with our wholeness?
What amazes me most about being on retreat is how universal our experiences and struggles actually are. Being in a community of friends, old and new, often allows us a certain freedom to explore and reflect collectively on our lives, how we are living them. It is incredible how much more clearly we are able to assess and witness our lives when the context changes even slightly.
By immersing ourselves into a space away from home, work and obligations, we can step outside of our lives and see things through a new lens. Feeling and experiencing life in a different space, at a slower pace and surrounded by nature, will often uncover what we take for granted throughout our days. Being on retreat is also a very beautiful and potent space in which to evaluate what is and what isn’t working in our daily lives.
How do the practices of yoga and ayurveda support our inherent wholeness?
The two traditions work in different but complementary ways. With ayurveda, we care for and develop a relationship with our vitality, life force or prana. There are simple and universal practices which help us understand our own individual constitution. We get a sense of what tendencies we have in order to maintain a better balance and to be directing our energy more and more wisely in the world.
Throughout the retreat, we’ll begin to integrate some easy and basic practices of dinacharya (daily routine). We’ll focus on aligning ourselves with daily rhythms and also bring mindfulness to the food that we are eating and how it affects our energy.
These ayurvedic practices support a deep yoga practice. The yoga tradition speaks about removing obstacles and layers to remember our true nature which, depending on the lineage, is talked about as being love, consciousness or presence. Yoga works on the assumption that we are already whole but have the tendency to forget it.
Really, what this means is that our work, simple but not easy, is to peel off all the layers and come home.
Sylvie Anne Williams – Sylvie Anne has been a happy yoga practitioner since the age of 16. More recently, in 2011, she spent six months in San Francisco studying philosophy, hatha, vinyasa and restorative yoga. She has since spent time studying hatha yoga, tantra and aurveda with a few mentors including her main teachers Chrisandra Fox Walker and Katie Silcox. In a class with Sylvie Anne, expect to learn something new, to flow dynamically and to find stillness with a focus on alignment and breath.
Miranda Chapman – An avid community builder and social and environmental activist, Miranda Chapman has been teaching yoga and guiding transformative workshops for over five years. Trained in yoga and Ayurveda in India, and deepening her education in Canada, Miranda has taken her practice all over the world, opened an eco-friendly yoga and community space in Montreal, co-founded a grassroots yoga community organization and coordinated yoga festivals. Recently, Miranda moved to Connecticut to be closer to family and to bring her love of wellness and intimacy to the area while maintaining strong connections to her Montreal community.