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Are you a person living a safe life or a person taking risks? Do you prefer to be in a safe zone or choose the difficult, walk towards the unknown and take the risk in your daily life? I continued to practice flows on chakras in this week’s yoga classes. This week, it was “manipura chakra”s (navel chakra) turn. And we would practice a flow for our inner power and jewel. The theme of the session would be whether to stay in the safe zone and do a known flow in confidence or take chances and risk and walk towards the unknown?

We strengthened the core muscles with several “asana”s (pose) throughout the first half of the session and get ready for the peak pose. The peak pose would be something that would take the students from the safe haven. We should take risk when trying the peak pose.

I decided on two different peak poses for the morning and evening session that day because the students in the morning and evening classes could do some poses well but have difficulties in some other. The aim was to get out of the safe haven and take the risk so the groups should take the risk and activate their navel chakra. So one of the groups tried “bakasana” (crow pose) and the other “eka hasta bhujasana (leg over shoulder pose). Both asanas were poses that the students were not used to and that would be a challenge, taking them out of the safe haven and take the risk.

In the session we tried “bakasana”, some students got out of the safe haven, took the risk and tried the pose. Some of them only lifted one foot from the ground while some preferred to bring their knees on their back arms and keep their feet on the ground, staying in the safe haven.

In the session we tried “eka hasta bhujasana”, I observed the same thing. Some students only stretched their hips and brought their legs over their shoulders and stayed there some of them tried to lift their hips of the ground.

What I observed that day was that what we were doing on the “mat” was directly linked with our personalities. If we were people who liked to stand firm on our feet, we were having difficulties in balancing poses and taking risks. Or if we were not taking life so seriously and considering life a fun, such poses and sessions were just fun for us. The question was whether we should take life seriously, live in the safe haven and ground firmly on our feet or get out of the safe haven and take risk? Was life something that serious? Would it harm us if we take risk and mock with life a bit?

We are in Tekirova, Antalya (Mediterranean coast of Turkey). The last day and latest moments of a yoga retreat… We are receiving our yin yoga certificates. An end, one more time… Yin yoga teacher training program is ending. Everything has a beginning and an end. Farewells, end points and sorrow… What was it like to be in a yoga retreat?

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This retreat was my second in my whole life. The first was last summer. We went to Kabak coast near Fethiye (Mediterranean coast). It was really a great experience for me. Staying in a tent even though all of its corners were closed, living in a forest for a few days, fearing to see a reptile, walking in fear especially during nights and being unable to sleep due to all my fears. But surrendering to sleep in the end. To wake up with the noice of roosters a short time after I fell asleep. Being exhausted at the end of the third day and falling asleep. This was how my first yoga camp was.
Didn’t I had good memories of my first yoga retreat? We were in a yoga camp but we were having great fun. One day we had a boat tour and we swam in the cleanest sea ever. We sang songs and danced at nights. We established good friendships and we are still meeting each other. These were the advantages and good moments of that yoga camp.
I love yin yoga since the very first day of my yoga practice. Therefore I wanted to learn more about yin yoga. I was eager to include yin yoga to not only my own practice but also to my yoga classes. I made a research about a teacher training program. Unfortunately there was not any yin yoga program in Ankara. So, I joined a yin yoga teacher training program in Istanbul.
Last week, we went to a “natural” camp in Tekirova for yin yoga teacher training retreat. I had no idea about what I would see there until I went to the camp. When I got off the car, I just said, “this will be a hard week.”
I do love nature and I do not harm it. I fight with those who harm the nature. However, I do not like to live in nature so much. This was why I just thought “it will be a hard week” as I got off the car and saw the place where we would meet for the yoga retreat.
Why a hard week? As I have said before, I do not like to live in nature. Being in nature, living in nature is challenging for me. I am not talking about the green and the sea. I like green trees, grass, sea, sun and the sand. No problem with them. But the nature is not solely comprised of all these. Unfortunately there are animals. For instance, there are reptiles. Snakes, scorpions, spiders, insects and so and so on. They are all challenging for me.
Even though I have been practicing yoga for a long time, I am a human being. I am not a yogini or a holy person. I have fears. And my biggest fear is reptiles. I cannot overcome this fear. Therefore yoga camps are my biggest fear.
I got into my room. Thanks God, it’s not as I have imagined. It is clean. There are soaps, towels and toilet papers in the room. I am living in “luxury” in such an atmosphere.
The training program would begin at four p.m. that day. I still have three hours. I do not want to stay in the room. I go to the seaside. I am again disappointed when I got to the shore. I can see no sunbed or an umbrella to take shelter. It is an untouched shore. I put my towel on the floor. When was the last time I put my towel on the ground? I think I was a child and I was in Yeni Foca (Aegean shore of Turkey). This means that a person can step down in life after s/he makes a progress in life. The sea is clean. I guess this is my favorite thing during the entire camp.
I return to my room to get prepared for the class. I take a shower and the water is hot, which is something positive. I may like this camp, can I?
The class lasts for three hours. We talk about our weekly program. We discuss some theoratical issues. We continue to learn more. After the instructor briefs us on the camp, she told us that we would be eating a vegetarian diet and suggested that we should stay away from smoking and alcoholic beverages. She also suggested that we should try a vegan diet.
This is another challenge for me. Vegetarian diet. A person may think I am a vegetarian when s/he looks at my style of eating. I do not like meat so much but when I am told that this would be a vegetarian week, my mind just stuck on meat and meat products. This is my habit. When I am told not to do something, I just want to do it. Ok, I may stand for a week.
The other challenge? Not to drink alcoholic beverages. I am not a person who drinks every night. I am not an alcoholic either. I am a social drinker. I like to drink with my friends and when I go outside. I am told not to drink and now it is totally in my mind. What kind of a week was ahead of me?

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It was not so hard as I imagined. Every morning we were practicing yoga for two hours. After breakfast, we had two-and-a-half-hour theoratical class and then the lunch. After lunch, we had three and a half hours of free time. Every day, I went swimming after lunch. Then, two and a half hours of theoratical class which was followed by dinner. After dinner, we were watching films about yoga.
I was thinking that days would not pass but it passed. I could not understand how it passed. Vegetarian diet and alcohol restriction did not force me. They were not a problem for me. I only had a problem in the last night. I did not want a vegetarian diet that night but I was supposed to do that. Suddenly, I lost all my energy. I felt dizziness and had a headache. I think I was suffering from hypotension. My body wanted protein. We were eating cheese and eggs at breakfast but it was not enough. I tried to feel better by eating some desserts but I did not eat meat.
However, there was a veggie-meat dish at lunch of the last day of the training. I tasted that. Another confession. On our last night, a few friends and I drank beer around the fire we lit, singing songs and dancing.
What was the sole problem? Of course, wild nature and insects. I cannot overcome this fear. Whatever I do, I still fear. It was our second day, I think. A scorpion bit one of our friends when she was walking to our yoga tent. She was taken to hospital immediately. Luckily, it was not poisonous but it could have been. When she got back to the camp, she said, “I saw a snake before being bit by the scorpion.” That was the moment I almost lost my mind. I suddenly thought to pack and return home and go back to civilization. Then, I said, “no” to myself. This was an experience. I should have experience this. Till when could I run away? Yes, I am afraid. I could even die of my fear. I shake my clothes and towels before using them. I check my surrounding and I use fly-repellents. I lit a candle in the room but I am still afraid.
Luckily, I have not had “an unfavorable” experience throughout this training. The program was over and I returned home safely.
Will I go to a camp or a retreat again and again? Bluntly speaking, I do not think so. I have fears. I am a human being. I am not a holy person and I am not a yogini either. I cannot overcome my fears even though I try to confront them. Living in nature is a challenge for me. I do not want to lie or just pretend to say that I am not afraid. It was a challenging experience for me. You may ask what I have learned from this experience? I have not learned anything. I could not learn anything because I was just fearing. I cannot stop it whatever I do.
Will I go to a yoga camp again? I do not think so. Whether it is clean or not, nature conditions and reptiles are a challenge for me. This is my yoga. I have accepted myself this way. I was fighting myself at first. I was telling to myself, “you are a yoga instructor. Beware of yourself. You can live in a clean or dirty place and a place with reptiles or without reptiles.” No, I am not thinking this way nowadays. I am just deceiving myself with such impositions. No need for that. I cannot do it. That’s it. Yes I will go to a yoga camp again if this camp is organized in a cleaner atmosphere like in a boutique hotel or alike.