I co-led my first retreat two weekends ago and found it to be a magical experience that I'd love to repeat. (actually, we've already booked the space for the first weekend of November 2013)
We went to SevenOaks Retreat Center in Madison, Va for two days and one night away. One of the many nice sides to SevenOaks is that it is out in the woods, but is only about an hour out of town. It is easily accessible by car and doesn't require a long commute. Included in the retreat fee is the lodging there at SevenOaks and three amazing meals, plus 24/7 snacks, coffee, and tea are available. The lodging at SevenOaks is kind of like very nice camp, with electricity and running water, but we are by no means staying at a spa. Rustic, is a better description. The food on the other hand is way better than camp food. It is all fresh and natural, mostly local. They take into consideration any dietary considerations including gluten free diets, vegetarianism, and allergies. We all enjoyed stuffing our faces! (even my co-leader and I who didn't practice all the yoga!)
For me, it was nice to be at "work" but still feel like I was on a retreat. It was nice to work alongside one of my best friends for more than just the few minutes we get together once in a while. It was easy in that way because we have such rapport together, and neither one of us believes our own hype (as she put it). Neither one of us allows our ego to take over the teaching and so we were quite able to build off of one another as the practices went on.
I was also somewhat challenged in the process. I think mostly because of being pregnant right now. There is just a layer of film over everything. A fog that covers every experience just slightly. I'm there, but not entirely. I think even when I'm not pregnant the film is somewhat there - and that's why I do yoga. But without a strong practice for myself all weekend, I felt like I was interacting with everyone from the other side of fogged glass. Just slightly. We'll see how it goes next year when there isn't a baby in my belly.
On the flip side I was happily surprised by parts of my experience. Our main teaching point was about how Source or Shakti is present in everything and at all times. But it is Grace (the power of revelation) that lets us move from our normal every day lives, into seeing that Oneness. For me, I often access Shakti most clearly in my physical body. And I've definitely seen big differences in myself after yoga classes, or workshop weekends. On Sunday, after teaching on Saturday and eating luscious food and being out under the stars at the bonfire, when I woke up I could see the Shakti sparkling inside my eyes. It was just so amazing to see the teaching working inside of me even though I wasn't in the physical practice. It affirmed what I was teaching, and what I truly believe. (and it happened for my co-leader as well).
There were several magical moments during the teaching, and it was pretty awesome to watch some of the students' transformations from grumpy or stressed into great big love muffins. I definitely will make improvements for the next one. But, if leading a retreat with one of my best friends is my "work", I must be the luckiest lady in the world!