This last weekend I attended the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival. I signed up for an all-day intensive workshop on “detoxing, unwinding, relaxing and rejuvenation” Friday at a resort in midtown.

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Since the workshop started at 9 a.m. Friday, Alex and I stayed overnight Thursday at a cute little hotel not too far from the resort. It was drizzly and cold when we got there, not great for walking the beach, so we just wandered around downtown.

Downtown Cannon Beach has a lot of galleries and shops, including places to get souvenirs and higher-end boutiques. I wandered into this great store called Organic Boutique that carries organic cotton clothing. There was a huge sale (I think they were trying to make room for spring merchandise), so I found a few good deals there. I will definitely pop back in during my next beach trip.

The workshop the next day, led by a teacher named Annie Carpenter, began with us sitting in a circle introducing ourselves. There was about 30 of us students. Some of the people there had been practicing yoga for decades, and some were teachers.

We began with meditative breathing techniques, and then moved into an asana yoga practice that involved lots of twisting.

For me, this was all fine except when Annie would start talking about different yoga techniques by their Sanscrit names without really explaining them, and ask people if they trained which certain yogis. It gave the class this kind of weird, exclusive vibe. I was thinking, ‘no, I trained in a small gym studio with a girl who looked like Miley Cyrus before Miley Cyrus cut all her hair off. Don’t think lesser of me!’

Although they gave me a notebook as part of my welcome bag, I totally didn’t think to bring it along. The woman next to me was studiously taking notes throughout the whole workshop. I tried to just commit to memory the things I wanted to repeat at home (I liked the restorative poses).

After that we had lunch, but Annie asked that we eat our lunch in silence. I was kind of disappointed about that, seeing as I eat lunch (and dinner) by myself, generally in silence, most every weekday at work. We sat around circular tables and I looked around at everyone seated with me. I’m pretty sure I did the most staring of anyone in the group. Most people seemed focused on their meal. I could hear the clinking of silverware against the dishware and frequently got up to get more tea and ice water. (At one point making a huge noise when all of the ice shifted in the pitcher I was using.) It was…different. Annie pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a positive experience, just a mindful one. I ate pretty slowly and thought the food tasted good. Though just an hour later I was ridiculously hungry! Not enough food for me, I guess.

The one thing Annie said that stuck with me was the Sanskrit phrase sukha. She loosely translated it to “the good space” or “the sweet space.” Everyone was asked to say one word that represented what we might gain by having more of this spiritual space. I said “patience” because I am notoriously impatient.

I’m undecided on whether I would attend the festival again next year. It did encourage me to plan a relaxing activity or two for future mini vacations. Next time I go to the beach, I might try a drop-in yoga class.

 

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