As a quick aside before I dive into my recent trip:
This was my first visit to Mexico, and before leaving, I made a few jokes with friends that I was glad I was going to get to see Mexico before the wall gets built. This is a fitness blog, not a political one, but I feel compelled to say that after my trip, I am even more against the wall than I was when I left.
During my stay in Tulum, I received nothing but the best hospitality. The resort staff, local bar tenders and shop keepers, even the taxi drivers were genuinely friendly and tried to make meaningful connections despite the language barrier. When you walk through downtown Tulum, all of the shop keepers call out to you to check out what they’re selling, but they leave you alone if you politely say “no, gracias.” Walking around after dark, not speaking a word of Spanish, I never once felt unsafe. Sadly, I cannot say the same about walking around New York City.
Yes, the water is unclean, and yes, I witnessed very real poverty. Mexico is certainly not without its problems, but the idea that we need to build a wall to keep the Mexican people (who are often painted as violent criminals) out of our country is ridiculous. I am hoping that this trip is just the first of many as I hope to see more of what Mexico has to offer.
On to the trip:
To kick off my fitness (and clear my head) for 2017, I decided that I wanted to book another yoga retreat for myself. Last year, my friend Sam and I went to Rincon, Puerto Rico for a retreat with Jessica Bellofatto and I LOVED learning from Jessica! In just a few short days, my yoga improved tremendously; the way she explained the movements and shared her deep knowledge of the practice made each session an enjoyable learning experience.
The downside to that retreat was that it was only a few short days. I knew I wanted to take a full week off so this year I attended her retreat in Tulum, Mexico. I traveled down there solo, but came away with 20 new friends who I truly enjoyed spending the week with.
We started every day with 6:45 to 7:15 pranayama meditation, ending just in time to grab a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise over the ocean. Then, we practiced yoga daily from 9:30 to 11:30 and again from 5:30 to 7:00. The morning yoga sessions were active, challenging, and a whole lot of hard work. The evening sessions were more restorative and highlighted just how much tension I’ve been carrying around in my muscles. A lot of our classes focused on alignment and muscle rotation, which was a throwback to anatomy class. We attempted some more challenging poses (although I opted out of shoulder stands, I did achieve a full wheel) and I was impressed with myself for being able to hang in there for the full class; it’s not exactly easy to do three and a half hours of yoga in a day for five days in a row!
In addition to all of the fitness and focus, there was a lot of free time for fun. I participated in a Temazcal, a Mayan sweat lodge ritual (I may have sweat off about 5 pounds during the hour long ceremony!). We also explored the nearby Mayan Ruins and took a dip in Gran Cenote. Tulum and the surrounding area has over 1,000 kilometers of cenotes, amazing underground limestone caves you can swim through. I stuck to the more exposed parts where I could hang out with the turtles and the sunlight came in, but some of my friends were a bit more adventurous and went deeper into the caves. Of course I also spent plenty of time reading on the beach, drank many cervezas while watching live music, visited several local coffee shops, and spent the last night out in town eating the best burrito I’ve ever had and chewing on raw sugar cane sticks that were served in super fresh watermelon mojitos.
So now that I’m back in NYC (where we just had our first snowstorm of the year) I’m determined to keep these new habits going. I’ve recently signed up for Headspace and have been continuing to meditate first thing every morning. It’s harder when the background noise is from the elevated subway and not the ocean waves, but it has made a difference in how I start the day nonetheless. I’ve also signed up for a 28 day fitness challenge through my friend Samantha and I’m going to continue doing yoga every damn day for the next 28 days. I am hoping that the strength and flexibility I gain will help improve my running.
As far as running goes, I have the NYC Half coming up next month and then the Brooklyn Half in May, I’m hoping to PR in Manhattan and depending on how I feel afterwards, I may sign up for the Women’s Half in Central Park in April (although it’s an insanely hilly, really difficult course).
Oh… and I’m already thinking about another retreat in 2018!