Over this past weekend, I went to Yogaville with my friend and co-worker Liz. I've wanted a vacation for the longest time, and after hearing about this place from Liz for a while, I thought I'd give it a try since I recently got into yoga and greatly enjoy it.
I'm sure you all are wondering what Yogaville is. No, it is not a cult. I thought the same thing after hearing about it and doing a bit of online research. It is a yoga retreat tucked away in the mountains in Buckingham, VA. You get to take yoga classes, do guiding or solo meditation, listen to guest speakers, and go to Saturday night programs. People can even join a program called Lyt aka Living Yoga Training, where you get to stay and live in Yogaville for at least a month. You can even work in the community, either on the farm or in the kitchens in trade of staying in the community.
2016 was a very, very hard year for me and I was looking for any excuse to go on a vacation; to be able to get out of the city I work in and not go home. So, I decided to go to Yogaville from Jan 13th-15th because it wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t far away, and it included an activity I enjoyed doing. Liz always talked positively about it, so I decided to go. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s been trying to get me to go for a few months seeing as she was super excited when I relented. She was originally going to go around Christmas, but pushed back her plans to come with me, so in short, she invited herself on my trip. I didn’t mind it, because I’d be able to have someone to go with who already knows everything about the community.
The drive up wasn’t too bad, there wasn’t any traffic, but I’m still not used to diving for that long. I was so happy to get out and stretch once we arrived. Liz and I stayed in the dorms with another roommate. In fact, she had warned me about possibly sharing a room with someone else. I didn’t mind – seeing as I’ve spent 24 years and 6 months of my life with my three sisters as roommates. We didn’t get to Yogaville till around 4:30, so we ended up missing a program Liz really wanted to do. Instead, for the first night we unpacked, had dinner (all meals vegetarian) and then Liz showed me around to see the lit up shrines. We also checked out the gift shops and boutiques.
On Saturday, we went to an early morning hatha yoga class, which focuses on general yoga poses and deep relaxation. It was a nice and steady pace for such an early class, especially after the little sleep I got the night before. You would think a super dark and quiet space would help someone get to sleep. I guess I’m used to the sounds of trucks and cars outside of my apartment window. We then had breakfast before listening to a “Yoga in Daily Life” talk by a Swami. It really put a lot of things into perspective. Afterwards, we decided to go on a hike in the surrounding areas. Liz was excited to show me the farm, the swimming area, and the Ashram Alcove. It’s a holed out rock face that has perfect acoustics.
After the hike we went to a deep relaxation class. This course helps you with meditation and in turn helps you learn coping techniques to deal with stress and how to relax in various settings. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep twice. It really helped. In fact, the minute we got into the community, I had felt the most relaxed in a long, long time. After the class Liz took some time to meditate while I took the time to get some journaling in. I really enjoy being outside, so even though it was cold, I felt the most at ease. We then had dinner before retreating back to our room for the rest of the night.
Sunday, instead of staying to take a few more yoga courses, we decided to checkout early and head to Rosslyn, VA to go to CrabTree Falls to go on another hike and to look at a waterfall. Sure, it took us an hour out of the way for our return trip, but it was worth it. The hike was great and the waterfall was breathtaking. After about 45 mins or so, we headed back. The entire time, I didn’t have cell service, but there was wi-fi. Aside from watching a few videos, I was essentially away from electronics the entire weekend and I really enjoyed it. I like to be unplugged from electronics every once in a while. It helped me clear my mind and fully be immersed in the community. Plus, it helped me be comfortable with how quiet I can actually be, and it gave me time to get to know Liz a bit more. We already have plans to go back during the summer so we can go swimming in the James River.
While I did feel a bit uncomfortable at first at Yogaville, I tried to be open to everything and it worked. It is a great way to relax and get away from it all. In fact, even though I overslept on Sunday and missed a class, and didn’t go to too many of the night programs, it still felt like the vacation I wanted. In fact, even if I didn’t do anything all weekend, it would have still been a great place to go.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman