When I decided to hold a retreat in Talkeetna, I mentioned it to my husband. He replied with “shouldn’t you call it an advance?”. For those of you who know him, this will not surprise you. For those of you who don’t, you’re missing out on some great Sven and Ole jokes (but we’ll have to save that for another time).
In the spirit of playful inquiry I decided to look these words up. This is what the American Heritage College Dictionary offers:
Retreat – “the act of withdrawing”, “a period of withdrawal for prayer, meditation, and study”
Advance – “the act or process of moving forward”, “an improvement”
These are just a few of the definitions for these words as nouns. So, to ask the question again…retreat or advance? Do we want to move forward or withdraw? Since yoga seeks balance it might be that we want to find the place in the middle. If we thought militaristically we could say the middle place is the battle ground. Which when you think about, it is where we work on ourselves. Sometimes retreating, sometimes advancing. Maybe that’s why there are yoga poses called hero and warrior!
The first word in Patanjali’s yoga sutras is “now”. Some yoga scholars suggest it contains the entire essence of the sutras. Since now is a challenging place to inhabit, it takes practice to stay there. If you doubt it, think about how often you daydream (or fret) about the past or future.
There’s still space in the retreat. It’s probably too late to change the name to “Talkeetna One Day Yoga Now”. We may advance our understanding of our bodies, breath, and mind, or retreat from the incessant mind chatter that clutters our thoughts. In any event, it’s an opportunity to practice “now” together.