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Best of 2009: Best workshop or conference

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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I've been to a lot of great workshops this year, most of them yoga workshops. I've studied yoga with Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, Shiva Rea, Twee Merrigan and the wonderful Mark Breadner.

But I had no trouble identifying the workshop that stood out as the very best, for me, of 2009. 

This summer, as usual, I dreamed about the most awesome yoga immersion I could possibly find while in California to visit the handsome devil's family and all my fabulous state-side sisters. Top of my wish list was a week-long intensive leadership training with Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling who together established and lead 'Of the Mat, Into the World'

Once we finally settled on dates for our trip I discovered that Seane, Hala and Suzanne would be running a workshop at Esalen, in Big Sur, while I was in San Francisco. I knew I had to be there. I hesitated for a while because I was unemployed and already spending a lot of money to get to California, but a little voice inside wouldn't let me walk away from this one.

I called up, last minute, and booked a place.

It turned out to be the most extraordinary workshop I've ever done. Seane, Hala and Suzanne were inspiring not least for the beautiful way that they worked together. Their collaboration in itself taught me so much. The loved each other, respected each other and knew and honoured each other's strengths and weaknesses without any need for competition, shame or blame. It was a beautiful thing.

Then there was the setting. If you have never been to Esalen – either for a workshop or for a personal retreat – then I highly recommend that you put it on your list of wild dreams. You deserve it. Eat from the biodynamic gardens, the food so fresh you can feel the goodness as it feeds your body. Soak in the healing hot pools. Treat yourself to a blissful massage out under the stars. Sit in the meditation room down by the creek, listening to the waves of the ocean nearby. Go for a hike in the parks close by, catching breath-taking views of the coastline.

Finally there was the practice. Seane led us into asana practices that took me well beyond what I had previously thought were my outer limits. She invited us to step beyond those limits and witness what happened. She never pushed, never goaded, never forced. But with her example of courage, faith and curiosity I also found I could dive deeper into myself and my practice.

In the course of the week I became a fully converted fan and whole-hearted ambassador for 'Off the Mat, Into the World' and I'm very excited about starting to host and lead 'Off the Mat' courses here in New Zealand next year.

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2 Responses to "Best of 2009: Best workshop or conference"

  1. gorgeous visuals. gorgeous you.
    have only done the late night soaks up at esalen and look forward to a workshop there someday.

  2. fpfj says:

    I love this photo of you. It makes me happy to see you so happy.

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