looking good is a state of mind

Baron Baptiste Yoga Retreat

When a co-worker asked Alexis to attend the Baron Baptiste Foundation Yoga Workshop in Seattle, she was so flattered. Even as a beginner yogi, she'd heard about the legendary Baptiste in revered tones, but her immediate “YES!” gave way to concerns about her abilities.

Ten minutes after saying "yes," I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Two-and-a-half days doing hot vinyasa flow? My heart started racing. I began dreaming of excuses why I couldn’t go. It was an internal battle of the ages – I really wanted to go, but I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I have a hip injury from a long-ago car accident, but the line where the injury stops and the excuses begin is blurry and gray at best. With a combination of excitement and trepidation in my heart, my co-workers and I headed off to the workshop.

baron baptiste retreat

As I stood in the lavender-scented warmth of the hotel ballroom, surrounded by 300 like-minded yogis of all skill levels, Baptiste took to the stage and began talking about the purpose of the weekend ahead. To say ‘magnetic’ when describing Baptiste is an understatement – his level of self-possession and genuine connection with us was immediately captivating.

He began the first evening’s asana portion by showing us the sequences of the Baptiste style of vinyasa flow. Every pose, and the order they go in, is intentionally planned to focus on awakening your inner truth. It was physically challenging but after five minutes I wasn’t worried about keeping up – I was so focused on being in the moment that I forgot all thoughts about looking good.


After breakfast the next day, we headed back to the hotel ballroom for a full day of asanas, thoughtful conversation and reflection. The day started off brilliantly – Baptiste led a meditation that was so transcendent I actually saw colors.

I was in upward dog sometime before lunch when I felt my right hip twinge with pain. I continued until we broke for break but by the time I'd returned to my room for a quick rest, I was in agony. I tucked myself into bed and used some of Baron’s meditation techniques to fall asleep.

Yoga Class Baron Baptiste Retreat

perceived failure

Sunday morning, I was feeling WAY better. I thought to myself, “No more excuses. You took a break yesterday – but that’s not happening again today.” We started with a wonderful meditation and sharing session followed by the Baptiste style of Vinyasa Flow.

Within five minutes, I knew I was in trouble. My hip was throbbing like it was going to explode out of my skin. I hopped up and left the ballroom to take a breather. That breather turned into me sitting in the lobby for the remainder of the morning, consumed with my perceived failure.  When I went home, I felt extremely enlightened from what I had learnt but also ashamed that I hadn’t ‘completed’ the weekend.

post-retreat learnings

A few days later, my beautifully insightful co-worker Parker and I caught up. She and I had been roomies that weekend, and she wanted to hear about my experience at the workshop. I explained to her that I thought Baptiste was amazing and that I had learnt a lot about myself but that I was disappointed that I didn’t finish.

“Why didn’t you stay in the room after your hip started hurting?” Parker asked. “If I had known that you were sitting in the lobby, I would’ve dragged you back in there.”

I didn’t have an answer. I knew what her point was – not that I had to participate in the asana, but that I could still learn a ton just sitting on my mat, absorbing the energy around me. It dawned on me: the only reason I had sat outside was because I was afraid to look bad. Talk about an ‘a-ha’ moment.

I am still learning and growing from my weekend in Seattle. I’ve become more aware when I’m trying to save face – and in turn, have found my own truth. I can’t wait for Baron to visit Vancouver next so I can practice with a humble and happy heart, whether in a rockstar crow pose or lying on my mat – whatever is right for me.


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Sounds like an amazing weekend! My favorite yoga teachers are Baron Baptiste trained. And great point about still “getting something” out of the experience by simply being in the room. Learning to “just be” and not judge ourselves is a tough lesson!

Comment by erin @ well in l.a. — June 7, 2011 @ 11:59 am

Awesome post!!! I especially like the way you refer to your failure as “perceived.” I’ve attended many trainings with Baron and am a certified teacher and each training I’ve attended seemed like a perceived failure at the time. It’s not until I come home that those ‘a-ha’ moments begin to hit me one by one and sometimes they all come at once. It’s an overwhelming sense of growth! You’re already a rockstar for opening yourself up to growth! xo

Comment by Nikki @liveloveyoga — June 7, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

This sounds like such an amazing experience, i have always wanted to attend something like this but did not know if i would feel out of my element. Its good to know that newcomers are welcomed regardless of their experience level, or ability. Great insight Alexis!

Comment by dustin — June 7, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

What a wonderful and humbling story! I tend to think of lululemoners as pretty much superhuman, but it is true that everyone has their vulnerabilities. I’m attending a Bikram Yoga posture clinic with Lynn Whitlow at Bikram Yoga Mississauga in a few weeks and I am very hesitant/nervous. I will definitely be using your story and insight to draw on for inspiration to simply do the best I can. Such an honest post, thank you so much for sharing Alexis!

Comment by Anil N. Singh — June 9, 2011 @ 5:42 am

Thanks for the feedback! The biggest takeaway I am still experiencing is that who I am ‘on the mat’ is who I am ‘off the mat’ – they absolutely relate. If I am giving my all, being authentic and open to all that is around me in my yoga practice, chances are I’m behaving the same in real life – and vice-versa. Try observing this for yourself…it’s quite uncanny and is such a helpful exercise to get really honest and true.

Comment by Alexis — June 9, 2011 @ 11:11 am

Alexis – I totally understand how it would be difficult to stay in the room on your mat. Not necessarily because the fear of looking bad, but because it would be so hard to not join in!

You were smart to listen to your body. And you did learn something from the experience… not to give in to “perceived failure.”

Comment by The Get In Shape Girl — June 9, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

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