by Kara-Leah Grant
Over the last eleven years I have done some deep personal work. At times it has been difficult and heart-wrenching, but always it has been rewarded and en-lightening.
That work has brought me into a clear and lighter space within my own being, plus it has given me the ability to shift states of being almost at will, through the power of attention and intention.
Yoga has been the cornerstone foundation of this work, but it has not been the simple act of moving through the postures that has been so powerful.
It was been the relationship that I have cultivated with my practice, and by extension with myself.
Often, this ability to cultivate relationship within our practice is what’s missing when we go to yoga classes. We don’t always form student/teacher relationships with those who lead those classes, and the way of being in healing relationship with ourselves and our practice is not always modelled to us.
The first was the ease with which I slipped into the role of facilitator and guide as we lead the participants through the journey of emptying out. I knew what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I could sense the energy of the women in the room and what was required in each moment.
Part of this was because of the support and skill of the woman at my side – Helen. She complimented my skill set perfectly and held a loving-compassionate space at all times.
The second aspect that struck me was the power of deliberately leading participants on a specific journey and using the tools of yoga to support this journey.
We weren’t leading asana classes for the purpose of doing better handstands, or better understanding alignment (both valid purposes). Instead the asana, meditation, pranayama, visualisation and chanting all served a greater purpose – that of the healing journey we were taking participants on.
While the weekend was complete in and of itself, I also had a sense that it would be possible to lead a longer retreat that would allow for the time and space necessary to go deeper and release more. Some of the participants had touched on long-standing issues as the yoga practice worked deep on them and brought feelings and thoughts up to the surface.
Helen and I were able to hold a safe nurturing space as these feelings and thoughts came up, yet I also sensed an opportunity.
Now would have been the perfect time to use body-centered, present-moment focused therapy to release what was arising.
Within my own yoga practice, I have become adept at using particular techniques to work through deep emotions and thoughts as they arise. However, I still reach out to other skilled therapists when necessary though – like Ben Ralston.
Ben, who is based in Europe, is a yoga teacher as well. But he is also a therapist, and over the years has treated hundreds of patients, initially working with Reference Point Therapy, and now developing his own mode of working. Ben often runs week-long retreats teaching yoga in the morning and then doing group therapy work in the afternoon.
He calls this ‘Shadow work’ because inevitably it’s our shadow that comes up in this work – all the parts of us we would rather ignore, deny, avoid, stuff down, not look at, project on to other people, or cover with anxiety, depression and sometimes physical illness.
I realised that if I was going to lead a week-long yoga retreat, I wanted to do it in partnership with someone like Ben Ralston.
This would mean the yoga could work it’s magic on people in the mornings, bringing them into a deep state of presence, and possibly opening them up to aspects of Self or shadow. And then Ben could take over in the afternoon, journeying with people using his skill as a teacher, healer, therapist and medicine man.
And, because Ben and I would both work with people over a week, we would have the ability to work in relationship with people, providing the safe container for deep healing work that is not possible within class situations.
In a week of classes, I would have an opportunity to model the type of relationship I have with myself and my yoga practice which has allowed me to shed so many layers over the years.
So I skyped Ben, invited him to come to New Zealand, confirmed dates, booked Tauhara Retreat Centre and whipped up a poster.
Together, Ben Ralston and I are leading The Heart of Freedom, a week-long yoga and shadow work retreat, May 20 – 27 2016.
Helen Thomas will be joining us to assist and weave her special form of heart-centered magic.
Together, we will create a joy-filled, loving space where participants have the opportunity to work deeply with their yoga practice, and with themselves.
The retreat will be particularly valuable for those people who have been hitting up against the same old issues over and over again. unresolved grief, spates of depression, lingering anxiety, lack of clarity, lack of direction, loss of joy, limiting beliefs or shut-down hearts.
Often we can become very intimate intellectually with our issues and shadows, but despite being able to talk in detail about them, we are not able to shift them once and for all. This retreat will offer tools, techniques and the deep presence required to make these shifts.
It feels like the next natural evolution of the work I am doing, and a way to give people the experience I have had over the last eleven years – that of en-lightening myself through my yoga practice and therapy work.
It’s this work that has led me into a life of outrageous joy, and I imagine that on the retreat we will likely also have some experiences of outrageous joy! It’s always incredible what happens when a dedicated group of people come together ready to shed the masks and the layers and open up in vulnerability and joy with each other.
I hope to see you there!
The Heart of Freedom
A week-long yoga & shadow work retreat with Kara-Leah Grant & Ben Ralston
May 20-27, 2016 @ Tauhara Retreat Centre
Early, Early Bird: NZ$1590 closes Dec 21
Early Bird: NZ$1750 closes Feb 28
Full Price: NZ$1950
Book your spot with a 30% deposit, balance due within six weeks of booking, or within one week of the retreat, whichever comes first. Deposit non-refundable, but can be transferred to another participant.
Includes shared accommodation + breakfast/lunch/dinner. Accommodation is all dorm style however FIRST BOOKINGS get the choice of three cottages.
Ben on our True Nature, Yoga & Shadow Work