Esalen is amazing.
It's supposed to be The Ultimate Yoga Retreat and The Sacred Place. It certainly is. Even for a lamie like me. Don't get me wrong - I do yoga. I mean, who doesn't?! It's the 21st century, everybody does yoga and you don't want to be judged. Especially if you live in a tolerant, diverse community, right?:) You should be spiritual yet not religious, you should practice single focus yet get tons of shtuff done, you should be tolerant, yet stand by your own truth. But I digress.
So yes, I don't do that much yoga, if you know what I mean. But I do some, and I have girlfriends who are really into it. And that's how I end up on a beautiful coast in Big Sur one Friday afternoon. With my backpack, my girlfriends, and a bottle of red; fully armed to rock this week end.
Upon arrival, we are greeted by a yoga god. He is broad-shouldered, bristle-faced, and likely not quite sober himself. Or it may just be our fantasy. In short, he is perfectly stunning and ready to embrace us into zen.
Turns out we didn't need to brace ourselves for a vegetarian week end - apparently yogi eat meat now. And lamb too, not just chicken. In fact, food was mostly fantastic - lots of vegetables, lots of grains, lots of legumes, and all of it delicious. And labeled for common food quirks such as gluten free, soy free, diary free, etc. My favorite dish was the inner peas soup, despite my sister calling it inner pee. Yuck, I know! The soup sprinkled out of my mouth with lol's, and even all of that didn't ruin our appetites.
Then there are those fantastic mineral baths. Everybody says they are super healthy. I have no idea, but I believe them. You can't help believing mineral baths are the epiphany of health, when you are slowly melting into hot water. Especially if you close your nose. Hot springs stink! Kinda like rotten eggs or yogini farts. In any case, the ocean view, the mist in the air and your inner warmth compensate for that. So you just sit and melt and smile. Or talk to your girlfriends, if you chose to go to the quiet area. There is also the silent area, which we saved for another retreat many-many years from now. It's slightly unfortunate that bath robes are not supplied and that your towel doesn't have enough time to dry in between bathings (you get one towel and the weather is not conducive to drying).
Sometimes you are joined by a naked yogini. Or a naked yogi (the baths are co-ed). If you are not super enlightened and shame-prone (kinda like yours truly), you would attempt to look away and ignore his possibly-allusive half-coughs. You might even go as far as place your left hand - you know, the one with the wedding band - somewhere visible, like the handrail. I have no idea if yoga manners allow this kind of commitment show-off, but it felt right and we had just been taught to do what feels right.
And of course... There is yoga practice. If you do yoga at all, you will greatly enjoy the 12 hours of yoga, unevenly spread across one and two quarter days! It's invigorating, soothing, challenging, calming, straining, refreshing - and everything in between and beyond, and all at the same time! I mean, it's 12 hours of solid, hard core yoga, what do you expect. Especially if you don't do that much yoga, like someone who went to this yoga retreat (wink-wink). Why did I go? Oh you know. When you care for little people sometimes you need a break. You need your ears to be spared of hearing "mom, mom, mom, mom, moooooom!" every few minutes. You need a night of uninterrupted sleep. You need to talk to grown ups about anything unrelated to business or school. You don't get most of these things - but you do get quality time for yourself, on your own terms. Basically, you get "aphukenbrake." (youtube to the rescue if you don't know what this stands for:). Not only that - if you are willing to put the effort of your mind and body into it, you get so much more...