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    Yes, yoga retreats. They get a bad rap at times in the yoga world.

    Expensive, bougie, inaccessible. I’m so clear that retreats are not a luxury but a necessity.

    To retreat means to literally pull back, retract, remove oneself from the everyday world for a while.

    The necessity of retreat is this question: 
    Can we make space for ourselves whenever possible?

    A retreat can be a pause between sentences, a deep breath, a walk on lunch break, an evening bath or a longer self-care focused vacation.

    Taking space out of our daily lives doesn’t have to be exclusive or expensive. It can look many ways. The commitment is to create space to allow for truth to percolate to the surface.

    Have you taken one lately?

    There are so many hidden stories in our histories, culture and even within ourselves.

    When we practice meditation or yoga we are connecting to the ancient lineage of wandering men and women who retreated from the world, for a time, sat under trees, in caves, by rivers seeking inner peace and power.

    When we retreat, we join the lineage of those who make time for stories to emerge.

    As Krishnamacharya says, “Strengthen yourself through the fire of practice and remain humble.”

    This essential yoga history comes alive within us each time we practice. Each time we retreat into ourselves.

    I believe in this so much that as part of the 200 hour yoga training school I teach I request my students take their own personal retreat – whatever kind they can.

    As a yoga community we have work to do around creating retreat spaces that are affordable, accessible, inclusive and safe to all. I’m so committed to this.

    In my own busy, working mama, yoga-teacher life, I’ve found it is so important to take mini-retreat breaks through the day. I am also deeply committed to sit as long as I can, humbly and openly at the feet of a teacher.

    To just learn. Absorb. All I can. And then create.

    This week I was lucky to be able to do this on a 3-day retreat with Elena Brower, a masterful teacher of the yoga of emotions, especially within the family. I am so deeply grateful for her teachings.

    I humbly offer you a few questions for reflection and a poem that emerged this week.

    This piece is all about the connection to the history and sacred inner self.

    The yogi or yogini within each of us that is always already there.

    I use the term yogini because I connect to the feminine energy, but it is interchangeable for yogi if that fits better.

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    It’s interspersed with a mantra-like Chant: (Yogini within, yogini within)

    Yogini Within

    (Yogini within, yogini within)

    Bow to the yogini within
    ancient coffee-colored men and women
    dripping wisdom
    in mountains and caves
    of the heart
    you’ll find us
    walking spiritual paths
    like fireflies borne on wings of sunlight
    dipping into our story to gain insight

    She knows like Kali
    sometimes feet got to stand on heads
    to make things right

    But we got a dance in our flow
    though it might look like a fight
    to survive
    or arrive in the present moment
    cos our struggle is nothing new
    spirits restrained for centuries
    of forgetting ourselves
    attempts to bury truth in an ocean of illusion

    (yogini within, yogini within)

    i carry the seed of creation insight
    meditation
    with diligent practice
    soft, dark wet earth I fertilized and rebirth divinity
    see you throw me a core and i grow you a forest of trees
    to feed the whole community

    That’s what being a yogini means
    creativity
    making it happen with the magic of our mindulness
    our voice, our eyes
    our wondering why’s it gotta be that way sometimes

    (yogini within, yogini within)

    She sings from her core truth for troubled days
    “It’s time for you to know me
    get still and breathe
    see yourself in my reflection
    trust what you feel
    sister your instincts guide you right
    and your feelings are real.”

    Slow swaying in flow together
    she becomes me
    we are earth and ocean
    moon and tide,
    breath and blood and love
    rising light to my night on her knees
    every salutation
    a prayer to the goddess within
    this yogini
    here in front of me
    deep inside of me
    breathing life into the clay form of this human body
    rapt attention on the rampancy of now
    birthing ourselves to the present moment
    as we flow
    ever closer to ourselves
    practicing with the fierceness of only
    we set the yogini
    within free

    Some questions for reflection this week: 

    -What are your hidden stories? What do they feel, look, smell, taste like?
    -Who are your powerful teachers and how can you sit with them?
    -What large or small retreat can you create for yourself this week?
    -Where are you called to be humble?
    -What creative outpourings are ready to emerge?

    Yours in a culture of study, retreat, reflection, expression, creation,
    Susanna

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    “Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual.” -Grace Lee Boggs

    Build with me at www.SusannaBarkataki.com