High on Mt. Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas, Arkansas State Parks’ Lodge at Mount Magazine overlooks the Arkansas River valley. And every November, a flock of yogis from all philosophies and experience levels meet here for a weekend of yoga, community, and relaxation at Yoga on the Mountain.
My yoga-retreat buddy and I arrived late on Friday night, after the “Yoga Mountain Jam” had already finished kicking off the weekend. Based on last year’s experience, I’m betting it was two hours of a high-energy blend of yoga, welcomes, reunions, introductions, and generally warming up for the weekend.
Saturday morning arrived with a fabulous sunrise over the river valley. I was already feeling this year’s theme, “Highest Point. Highest Self,” because this mama pretty much never gets out of bed at sunrise on purpose.
First on the agenda, of course, was breakfast.
One of my only frustrations about the Lodge at Mt. Magazine and Yoga on the Mountain is the food situation. I’ve heard that the restaurant at the Lodge has been working on adding variety to its menu, but it still isn’t quite geared toward healthy or allergy-friendly food options, especially for a weekend of high activity and lots of detox potential. A heavy lunch doesn’t pair well with an afternoon of vinyasa flow!
However, we came prepared, and probably brought enough food for about six hungry yogis. It’s amazing what a couple of kid-free moms who love good food can whip up for breakfast out of a couple of coolers and a hotel fridge!
With this smoked salmon and avocado toast under my belt, I was ready to get started on the day with a walking-meditation hike to the highest point on the mountain.
At the top of Signal Hill, we all took a seat around the highest point, and shared ideas that the walk had generated for us, and that we wanted to experience more in our lives:
“Letting yourself go with the flow – not going at breakneck pace.”
“Noticing things under the surface – the good and the not so good.”
“Remembering there are still surprises and magic in the world.”
“Trusting my goals. Sometimes you can’t see ahead of yourself when walking toward the light. Not seeing the path ahead is okay, if you know you are headed toward a bright goal.”
After some more meditative and visioning exercises, we each chose our own path down the mountain.
Every time I go to a yoga retreat, I fill my whole schedule ahead of time, and then change half the classes when I get there and feel pulled more toward other options. And at big festivals like this one, I could go nonstop from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and try everything from restorative to power vinyasa to hip-hop hip-opening yoga, and from a fun yoga slackline to a powerful trauma-release flow. Don’t forget the specific classes on backbends, inversions, acro yoga, partner yoga, anatomy, chakra opening, and more. What is an overachiever to do?
As it turns out, this particular overachiever got a strong reminder to go with the flow. It’s fortunate that even though I packed my Saturday full, I accidentally ended up in two restorative classes, which are usually a bit slow for my preference. By suppertime, I didn’t want to eat (despite all that lovely food we brought!) and felt like I’d been walked on by an elephant (and not in the good way that usually comes from a yoga overdose).
By the next morning, I felt even worse, and spent most of the closing class taking in the inspiration from child’s pose. I still did my best to appreciate the lovely drive home to NWA, and we stopped at a lookout on the way down the mountain to capture the beautiful view.
My friend does what it takes to get a good photograph!
It’s a credit to the quality of classes and positivity of spirit at Yoga on the Mountain that even though I spent the next three days in bed and many more weeks recovering from what was probably a flu, I still feel totally positive about my experience at YotM.
I am left not with the feeling that I missed out, but that I received what I needed most — the opportunity to have one lovely retreat day, and the reminder that taking care of ourselves sometimes means that we must change our plans.