Behind the Scenes of my first A Joyful Approach Retreat
My first Joyful Approach Retreat was from one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I created the retreat with the intention of bringing all kinds of women together to unite in a healing process through a Joyful Approach intensive workshop, Astrology integration and Daily Yoga, all in beautiful Tulum, Mexico.
Last year I met Alia Mai, the yoga instructor who led our daily Yoga practice and is also the founder of Kin Yoga Retreats. We kept in touch as she also contributes to The Joyful Approach on Yoga and Spirituality. A synchronistic random meeting in Venice California only a few months ago gave me the insight that there was a reason for our meeting, which I then realized was to create a Joyful Approach retreat. Along with Alia, I recruited the bombshell Astrologist Rose Theodora, who is outstanding with guiding astrology. She also contributes to The Joyful Approach.
The three of us worked thoroughly on creating an integrative retreat that would facilitate growth and healing through introspective work, as well as bring awareness to the mind, body and spirit by creating a sacred space for women to open up and share in a safe environment. The retreat was situated at Casa Violeta, a chic, tranquil hotel on the stunning white sand shores of Tulum. The hotel is family-owned and the staff pours love and care into every detail to ensure the guests feel comfortable, rejuvenated and can have a profound experience.
We were a total of fifteen diverse women from New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Mexico, South Carolina and Steamboat Springs, CO.
The morning began with a morning practice of meditation and Hatha Vinyasa, which is one of the original systems of yoga that includes asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing excercises). Hatha Vinyasa utilizes breath to create fluid movements through various yoga postures.
We then had a beautifully prepared breakfast set overlooking the ocean with delicious fruits and natural ingredient foods such as pancakes made with ginger, almond and quinoa. We were sensitive to food restrictions and offered gluten free or vegan options as well as deliciously prepared eggs for those who chose protein options.
For the first two days, I taught The Joyful Approach curriculum. The first day was based on the six fundamental components of the Joyful Approach holistic lifestyle: Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration, Breathing, Thinking and Movement. It was about raising awareness and also bringing the components into balance to create a more holistic approach to our lives. We dove into each component and discussed the critical importance of each area in order to sustain holistic lifestyle. We shared in obstacles we all face with maintaining these area’s in our lives. I created a workbook and gave homework exercises as tools. We worked inclusively in discussion and also formed groups for partnering.
The second day was part 2 based on more emotional components and how we relate to each other, ourselves and the world. The components that support the 6 fundamentals such as Boundary setting, setting intentions, core values, self love and living in authenticity.
Deep vulnerable conversations took place continuously through those two days. The environment was safe and sacred for each of us to feel supported and be able to open up and share about what was in our hearts.
After these workshops we broke for another delicious meal prepared with love and creativity for lunch. There were a few hours left open for free time to go out on excursions and discover Tulum until our daily practice of Yin Yoga. This was a beautiful way for us to melt our minds and bodies into deep relaxation.
On the third day of our retreat Rose led a most powerful workshop on Astrology which encompassed the ins and outs of our natal ascending and transit signs. We were dazzled and enticed by this incredible new landscape of Astrology to have a lens to look through. It was fun, exciting and eye opening. Rose also facilitated private sessions for each guest of astrology readings based on their charts that were prepared in advance.
We had elegant dinners that were super fun. It was a time where we could all share our experiences from the day in an intimate setting or someone would prepare a speech and bring gifts for the group.
We were blessed to have a sound bath with the amazing Alesandra Montana of Suhuy Multi Vibrational Therapy after dinner. Sound therapy is based on the power of sound and vibrations to restore body, mind and spirit creating a sense of balance, harmony and peace. Sounds can change the rhythms of the brain waves, heart beat and respiration affecting the overall health – not just on a physical level, but emotionally and spiritually as well. We lied comfortably on our mats in the darkness with the warm breeze brushing our faces, the smell of Kopal in the air and surrendered to the sound waves and harmonic vibrations. The several sound instruments made of quartz, crystal, Tibetan bowls, Chinese gongs, mayan shells, didgeridoo and human voice helped restore the inner balance. It was complete magic.
Another highlight of the retreat was a pop up shop of Kimonos hand sewn with intention by my LA sister Rita Ghanime, as well as beautiful dream catchers designed by Alia Mai, and hand knit beautiful crochet bikinis by Laguna Collective. I brought special blended Essential oils made by my teacher David Elliot, along with beautiful Lavendar silk eye pillows from Lara Elliot made with her Reiki light.
Lastly, one of the most powerful event of the retreat was my facilitating a group Breathwork healing session.
I have had ground breaking transformation experiences myself with this style of Pranayama Breathwork. My results resulted in breaking through unleashed old patterns, old stories and further huge heart openings. With my intention to be able to share this with the world I received level 1-3 of four to teach and facilitate Breathwork healing. I use essential oils, incense and music as my tools as I held space for them to have their uniquely profound experience. I witnessed these women really letting go, feeling safe to experience cathartic journeys to free themselves and for their hearts to open and burst with endorphin release. When the session ended we stayed in this space of radiant love, where we were crying, laughing and playing like we were children again. It was beautiful and a memory that will stay in my heart forever.
The retreat ended with a closing circle of heartfelt tears for the bond we created. It felt like a family was born through a strong, golden unbreakable thread woven with love, support and integrity. When it was time to say goodbye, we all held the sacred bond and had immense gratitude for the tools we took away and integrated into each unique manifested Joyful life.