Pour Your Heart Out: Peace and Strength

wanderlust california

Riding the tram up the mountain

Though my body was already feeling a little sore from the previous two days of yoga, hikes, and even ballet, I was excited to be boarding the tram to go to the top of the mountain to take another yoga class. I was already surrounded by beauty and peace at the Wanderlust Festival, I figured it had to be even more amazing to take a class up there. In planning for the trip, my motto was to try as many things that I wouldn’t otherwise get to try elsewhere. And mountaintop yoga is not something you can find in my teeny coastal(read: totally flat) Carolina town.

During the 10 minute tram ride, I glared at my phone and its pathetic ONE bar, which was not allowing me to reply to emails or check twitter or facebook. And while I can let some of that go for my own personal accounts, I was feeling stressed about getting behind for work.

But when we all unloaded at the top, I followed the signs for my Basic Flow yoga class and was blown away by the sheer natual beauty.

The class was right on the edge, overlooking a massive drop down the side of the mountain. You could look straight across and see the mountain peaks. I set up my yoga mat and simply stared out ahead of me, enjoying the quiet.

Even as others approached the practice space, it never got loud, as everyone automatically hushed as they got close to the spectacular view.

yoga festival

The front of the class

Class began and our instructor had one of the most melodic voices I’ve ever heard.

The class was called “Harness Ur Awesomeness” and I admit that I took it more because it was 1. at high camp and 2. it was a gentle flow class and I wanted something that wasn’t going to completely kick my ass, rather than paying too much mind to the class description of “Stand in your power. Align with your truth. Flow with your passion.”

Even though I love yoga and the happy peaceful environment of Wanderlust is one that I’d love to have all the time, I have to admit that I sometimes roll my eyes at bit at some of the spiritual parts of the practice and instead focused on the workout and the calm that would come over me. For example, when I’d be in a class where we’d be asked to chant a certain word(or sound), I would usually do it, but it always seemed a little weird. Or if the talk got too far out there for me, I simply ignored it and tried to get a little deeper into a stretch.

But as I went through the class and listened, really listened to the instructor, my thoughts began to change.

We all stood in Warrior Two position, with left hip and arm pulling back toward the mountains behind and right hip and arm extending towards the mountains in front of us. Doing as our teacher instructed, I felt that pull and extension and felt the strength in the connection of my feet to the earth, feeling solid and strong.

She encouraged us to feel our energy, our strength, and to realize that we are what is permanent during our lifetimes: that each of us, whatever is inside of us and our bodies- this is what we have. Not everything external. Not our stresses, our jobs, all that outside noise. Everything around us changes and what we have, what we will always have, through everything, is ourselves. So we need to be taking care of ourselves.


In that moment, it really hit home to me. And I started to let go of some of my worries. Like that one bar showing on my iPhone.

Shortly after, we were relaxing in Child’s Pose and encouraged to “Om” with the class… instead of any eyerolling, I joined in. And as each individual on top of the mountain chanted it in their own rhythm and for their own length of time, it began to sound more like the chiming of hundreds of bells.

We went into  Shavasana(final resting time at the end of class), though our teacher told us if we were feeling chilled or needed a little more comfort, to take this time on our bellies instead of our backs. Having goosebumps on my arms, I took the time on my belly, breathing deeply and feeling so peaceful, so strong.

And then our teacher began to sing, beautiful words that I couldn’t understand(Sanskrit, possibly?). But I could feel the emotion, the overwhelming joy and harmony in those syllables.

And I never wanted to leave that space, that mountain where it seemed so easy to be aware of what is important, to feel that peace and strength, and to let go of the rest.

Disclosure: I attended Wanderlust as part of #toyotawomen. I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

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  1. says

    I know I’ve already said it but I’m totally jealous that you had the chance to do this. Mountaintop yoga? Are you kidding me? 😉 I’m thrilled that you had a “mountaintop” experience (I know, I’m corny late at night) and I know what you mean about the eye rolling but the best part about yoga for me is that it’s quiet. I’m sure you can agree that being a mama doesn’t allow for much quiet time and so it’s a welcome relief for me. :) Thanks for sharing your experience!
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    • Shell says

      Really depends on the teacher. Not all go into any of it. And then some go way into it. It’s finding the one that is right for you.

    • Shell says

      There was so much more going on than just yoga- I think anyone would like it.

      It’s so loud at home now. SIGH.

  2. says

    Shell I am so happy you found your “om” and that peacefulness not only during the class but in resting pose. If I have a chill during resting pose I always feel like it is because I have purged all of the bad stuff out of my head and heart. It doesn’t matter how badly I’m sweating…I always get that chill.
    So thrilled you had this time for yourself. It ALL starts with taking care of YOU! xoxox
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    • Shell says

      Sometimes I have a hard time resting at the end, but not this time. It felt so amazing. 

  3. says

    Thank you for reminding me why I LOVE yoga and why I need to get back into my practice. Everything you said here, yes, yes yes. Every time I did yoga, no matter how tired I was before the practice, I would always emerge from class rejuvenated and calm. 

    Glad you had such a wonderful time!
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  4. says

    Just reading this felt peaceful. I think I would totally be an eye roller at first myself. And what a beautiful spot to do yoga! And yes- everything else will still be there when you get back just enjoy. (and hopefully no more extra pets 😉
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    • Shell says

      I’m glad I got past the eyerolling- I think if I can, pretty much anyone can. 

      LOL Just the cat. We’ll see how that works out.

  5. shannon says

    This post gave me goosebumps…that picture was breathtaking. it is one of my dreams to go on a yoga retreat somewhere, like bali or puerto rico, where they are in the middle of the rain forest. i find that the opening of the mind and heart to the spiritual side of yoga does not always come at every practice, but when it does? ha, then i understand the use of the word ‘bliss’ that used to make me snicker and think of hippies. it’s the entire universe inside each breath. thank you for sharing, that was lovely to read and lovely to see.

    • Shell says

      Oh, that would be amazing to do it there!

      yes, I used to just think of hippies, too- until I found those moments and then I got it.

    • Shell says

      Ha! There were people taking pics all the time. Though not usually the ones in the middle of practicing… except for me because I had to document everything, right?

    • Shell says

      It took being that far removed for me to actually go ahead and let go. Anywhere else, I’m reaching for my computer or at least my phone. This forced me out of it- and it was SO relaxing.

    • Shell says

      I’ve never had any luck doing yoga with just a DVD. I need that live class to really get the full experience.

    • Shell says

      I hate that feeling of panic. It shouldn’t be that way- we should be able to be out of touch for a little it and have it not be a big deal.

  6. says

    Just reading this after writing the post I just did, made me feel like I need to book a trip like this ASAP. I need to find some sort of inner peace and calm…you know with all the chaos. 😉 Glad you enjoyed it!
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  7. says

    All of what you wrote are the reasons I love, love, love yoga.  Sadly, I am always making excuses for not going, but now – I must.  What a great experience you had.

  8. says

    Oh wow that looks amazing. Completely and utterly amazing. It’s funny because I wrote my post before I read yours, and then I realized just how much your experience echoed the feelings I had been having lately. I’m so glad you got to go to this gorgeous place and have that moment. 
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  9. says

    I, too, struggle with the spiritual side of yoga. In a class on Tues, the instructor invited us to join her the following night to celebrate the full moon and do yoga outside (for a $50 fee!). Um, I adore yoga, but I have to draw the line at moon worship. :) Your experience sounds incredible, and I’m more than a tad jealous. 
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