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Retreat, Rest & Press Reset on 2013 – July 21-26 in Big Sur, CA

Saturday, May 11, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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gianthotspringsThis year I’m hosting a sweet retreat at one of my all time favorite places in the world: Esalen in Big Sur.

Five years ago, soon after I had left Afghanistan, I went on retreat at Esalen with Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling of Off the Mat, Into the World. During my week in Big Sur – as I breathed (and sometimes cried) my way through yoga classes, soaked in the gorgeous outdoor natural hot pools and sat in the garden watching butterflies flit between rows of kale I would soon be eating – I set the course of the life I’m now living.

This year I get to create that kind of space for a small group of women. Women – like me – who have profoundly important work to do in the world, and who sometimes need to take a break, put on the brakes, refresh their own reserves of creative inspiration (and rest) and reset their compasses to due north. I would love to have you join us to retreat, rest and reset your direction for 2013 and the years to come. I only have room left for 6 people so it really will be an intimate affair.

Who is this for?

This retreat is for women like me (and maybe like you?).

We understand the value and importance of taking care of ourselves. We know how good we feel when we eat healthy food, do some yoga, and take time to lie in the sun and read a book. We know we are more creative when we have more rest, and that we are a more compassionate and intuitive teacher/mother/friend when we get time just for ourselves.

We know we can only do our best work in the world, and make a difference in the lives of the people we care about, when we take time to care for and nourish ourselves.

YET, life is so very, very full that we find ourselves rushing from day to day with a gnawing sense that something is getting away from us, and there just isn’t time for a walk in the woods, or an afternoon nap on the couch, or to make a big fresh salad for lunch.

What we need, every now and then, is to hit the reset button by going on retreat.

So this sweet retreat is for women who understand the value of taking time out of the busy-ness of daily life to reconnect to yourself, to nourish your own health, feed your creativity. But who may not find it easy to make that time, most of the time.

The sweet retreat includes:

* 5 nights at Esalen Institute, including all meals made fresh from ingredients grown on-site. All rooms are triples (if you are coming with a friend, or two, let me know so we can room you together)

Practices, tools, support and opportunities to rest and reconnect with your creative, courageous, compassionate self in ways that will empower you in your work in the world, nourish your ability to care for the people you love, and reconnect you with a sense of meaning and purpose.

* Opportunities for yoga and writing practice, with support, instruction and encouragement from Marianne.

Full access to Esalen Institute’s amazing, healing hot tubs, Pacific Ocean views, creekside hikes, meditation spaces, gardens, other movement classes and massage (massage is at an additional cost).

* Opportunity to connect with others because sometimes we need to share a meal with someone who isn’t checking their phone every few minutes.

* Time for rest, stillness, silence and solitude.

Cost: Early-bird price $1425 incl shared room and meals – until 20 May (after 20 May $1625)

If a sweet retreat with me + to reset your compass, refuel your motivation and soak in the healing waters of Esalen feels like the right way to spend some time this summer, register now (or read on for more details)

Cancellations and refunds: If you need to cancel before May 31st, we’ll refund your payment. After 31 May, we won’t be able to give refunds, but someone else can take your place.

What will we do?

The focus of the retreat is on rest and connection: reconnecting to your own body through yoga and delicious healthy food; reconnecting to your own creativity through movement and writing, reconnecting to the earth and ocean through the beautiful grounds and three converging waters of Esalen, and connecting to a small circle of other women. Every day we’ll have a period of quiet time, when there will be absolutely nothing to do but walk through the grounds at Esalen, soak in the hot pools, nap in the sun on the grassy cliffs over the Pacific Ocean, curl up with a book, get yourself a massage, write or take photographs.

We’ll do yoga.

Yoga2I teach kind yoga, yoga that meets your body where it is right now, no matter where that is, with kindness. Because kindness, especially when it comes to our bodies, is revolutionary. Here’s what some people have said about my yoga teaching on past retreats:

Perfect, delicious, joyous. Kind yoga is the best! – Susan, California

Fantastic! I love her style and her presence and her fearlessness about making it pure fun. Some of the best, most healing and giggly yoga I have ever done. – Carise Mitch

Marianne, your gentle instruction and kind encouragement throughout the practice made it feel so safe to step outside my comfort zone. I connected and felt comfortable with my body in a way I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. – Karen Coverett

I have always been terrified to try yoga even though I really wanted to do it. I felt intimidated and self-conscious. Marianne introduced it to us in a safe and fun way. Loved it and want to do more. – Patty Fischer

We’ll write.2012-08-20 07.29.02

We’ll write because, just as yoga reconnects us with our body and brings us back into the present moment with all the joys and possibilities it holds, writing reconnects us with our spirit, and reminds us of the wonders we hold within our own imagination. There are no rules for this writing, no standards you have to meet, no pressure to share. I’m going to introduce you to a wonderful writing practice I learned from Natalie Goldberg. You don’t need to have a specific writing project in mind, and you don’t need to show anyone else what you write. Unless you want to.

We’ll rest.

Bring those books you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t found time for, bring the accumulated weeks and months of not-quite-enough-sleep. Every day we’ll have quiet time for napping, resting, writing and reading and the Easlen grounds are full of perfect little nooks for curling up in the sun with a book. There is even a gorgeous little meditation room, tucked into the side of the riverbank, if quiet time to sit is what you’ve been craving most of all. Esalen is also famous for it’s massage therapists.

We’ll eat.

We’ll eat amazing, delicious, healthy food – much of it grown on site in Easlen’s biodynamic gardens. Esalen’s kitchens are world famous for their incredible food. At breakfast there is fresh fruit, various kinds of porridge, eggs, toast and more. They have a big salad bar at lunch and dinner and most nights there are one or two soup options, plus a vegetarian and non-vegetarian entree option. And dessert! I’ve never gone hungry at Esalen, and I always leave dreaming of my next meal there.

gianthotspringsWe’ll soak.

We’ll soak in the healing waters of Esalen’s beautiful hot tubs – cut into the cliffs over the Pacific ocean. One of my favorite experiences in the world is lying in the quiet in those tubs, watching otter floating in the kelp of the ocean below me.

We’ll connect.

As well as reconnecting to ourselves, we’ll have time to connect with each other – time to hear from other women, and to be heard ourselves. And I promise you, it won’t be forced, it won’t be touchy-feely, and it won’t be uncomfortable. Because connection can be as simple as sharing a meal without any phones on the table, as profound as hearing someone read her own writing for the first time, or as natural as soaking together in a hot-tub.

Questions you might have:

What if I don’t know anyone else going? 

You won’t be the only one. There are only 9 places in this retreat and although it is possible some people might come who already know each other, the odds are that most people will be meeting for the first time. I don’t find it easy to meet new people, or to come into a group of new people. So I know how that can feel, and part of my job is to help you feel comfortable and at ease as you meet new people.

What if I’ve never done yoga before? 

You don’t need to have any experience of yoga to enjoy the yoga on this retreat. The style of yoga I teach is simple, accessible and fun – and yet at the same time can be very powerful in it’s effect.

What if I have an injury or some form of physical disability? 

In my yoga classes I am more than happy to help people make adjustments to find the right practice for their body – including working with people with disability or injury. But please talk to your doctor first and do let me know in advance about any injuries. If you have a disability which affects your mobility, please get in touch with me so we can talk – some parts of the Easlen property are not very accessible and I’d want to talk that through with you before you decide whether or not this is the right retreat for you.

What if I’m not a writer? 

That is absolutely fine! The writing practice we’ll be doing together is wonderful because it works just as well for experienced writer and people who’ve never written before. There will be no pressure to share your writing and you don’t need to have a specific project to work on. We’ll write as a way to connect to our ability to pay attention to the world around us, and as a way to reconnect to what is already present in us.

What if I’m shy? 

I’m a pretty low key, relatively introverted person myself. I’m not shy, but I do need time to get used to big new groups and I like time alone to process all the new information from being with others. So this really is going to be a ‘sweet retreat’: it’ll be small (only 9 women) with opportunities to connect to the other women there in very unthreatening, non-confrontational ways, and then plenty of space to be by yourself to recover, if you need that.

What if I have special dietary needs?

In my experience, Esalen’s kitchen do a fantastic job of catering for all sort so different diets. They offer meat options, vegetarian options, vegan options, gluten-free options and dairy-free options. SOmetimes the entree will contain dairy or egg or gluten, but when that happens they have soup options and the amazing salad bar that means you can create the meal that suits you. You can read more about the food at Esalen here.

What if I’m a bit intimidated by the idea of going on retreat? Or not sure that I’m cut out for it?

If you’ve never been on a retreat before you might wonder what it will be like, and whether you’ll enjoy it. Will you be able to cope with sharing a room? Will you like the food? Will you like the other people? What if you hate it, will you be stuck there?

Here’s what I can tell you, some aspects of the retreat experience will be blissfully comfortable and fun for you and other aspects are likely to be a little bit challenging. The accommodation, though set in one of the most beautiful spots on earth and very comfortable, is shared and is not 5 star luxury. The food is deliciously simple rather than gourmet. Some of the things we do together (yoga, writing, group meals) might take you a little bit out of your comfort zone.

But I can also tell you that:

  • I’ll be there to support you through the parts you find hard, and so will the other women; and
  • Even the parts that are a wee bit challenging are worth it.

How far is Esalen from the nearest airport? How do I get there? Will my cell phone work?

You can read more about how to get to Esalen and other practicalities, here on their FAQ page.

Cost: Early-bird price $1425 incl shared room and meals – until 20 May (after 20 May $1625)

Cancellations and refunds: If you need to cancel before May 31st, we’ll refund your payment. After 31 May, we won’t be able to give refunds, but someone else can take your place.

If a sweet little retreat with me + soaking in the healing waters of Esalen feels like the right way to spend some time this summer, register now:


More feedback on my yoga retreats:

That voice! That accent! That beautiful chanting! I have experienced a lot of yoga, Marianne brought a breath of fresh air to it. – Sue Vita

I found Marianne to be a wonderful yoga teacher – very inspiring, with a unique approach that was fun and engaging. I loved every moment of it. – Amy Oscar

What a joy! The yoga we did released something so deep – exactly where I needed to go. Who knew tears could spring forth after such light-hearted of yoga. The unexpected and miraculous happens. – Colleen Nolan Armstrong

Being totally new to yoga, it was a delight to be exposed to different forms and poses. Marianne is patient and kind, and brings a beautiful balance of fun mixed with tradition and respect to the mat. – Shirley Gerber

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