Heart Whispers and Energy Renewal in Hill Country
Kate Waitzkin on stress relief, sound baths and Collective Renewal, a yoga retreat taking place at the end of the month
by Samantha VanDale
We’ve all been there. It’s the beginning of January and our New Year’s resolutions are growing stale in the back of our minds as we start to settle back into the routine of our busy lives. That rejuvenated energy we promised we’d carry with us throughout the rest of the year—right after that last glass of champagne at midnight—is already starting to burn out as we start to break our snooze buttons back in on our morning alarms. So, we ask ourselves, what can we do to restart our energy for 2019? Austin’s favorite athleisure brand, Outdoor Voices and experiential travel company, Collective Retreats, have teamed up with yoga goddess, Kate Waitzkin (from Wanderlust yoga) to create a wellness retreat that will help you find your energy, renew it and harness it for the rest of the year.
Routed in the magical Hill Country town of Wimberley, Texas, the three-day yoga and meditation retreat aptly titled Collective Renewal will broaden your breath and open your heart with everything from crystal sound baths to farm-to-table meals. The main feature will be the vinyasa flows with Kate Waitzkin, who we had the pleasure of speaking with about her journey to yoga. She shares with us the power of letting go, small ways to relieve stress, what exactly a crystal sound bath is and what tips she has for yoga beginners. (No shame if all you can muster up is child’s pose.)
What about yoga and meditation reached out to you?
Kate Waitzkin: I was initially drawn to yoga for physical reasons while living in New York City in my early twenties. Yet, I stayed with yoga because of the dramatic shift in how I felt in my own skin following a practice. I experienced a deep sense of returning home. A familiar space of comfort and ease that I quickly learned was accessible to me at any moment. Ultimately, my time on the mat engaging in the physical practice of yoga led me toward what I now consider to be the most impactful and healing part of my own practice, meditation.
How do you continue to find the time to practice, as a mom, or just a balance in work/life/practice?
KW: Letting go. Letting go of the need for my practice to look or feel certain way. Letting go of the need to say “yes” to every request. Letting go of the effort to multi-task and complete my to-do list and, rather, step into the practice of identifying and taking on a few priorities for each day. Letting go of the word “should” and the energy it carries and, rather, asking the question, “what is the next right step for me in this moment?”
What are some stress relieving tips you have for those of us on the go?
KW: Give yourself permission to slow down. Slow down when you walk, talk, eat, practice and connect. Two to four minutes of conscious breathing. Try inhaling for five counts, exhaling for five counts and notice how you feel when you are done. Connecting to the way you feel after a practice like this will keep you coming back. One drop of Frankincense or Balance essential oil by doTERRA massaged on your pulse points and over your heart. The next time you reach for your phone out of habit, pause, smile and send someone you love a good thought. Lastly, a consistent meditation practice. Period.
What advice do you have for beginners just starting yoga?
KW: Be gentle with yourself. Let go of expectations and open to your experience as it unfolds. Stay connected to and aware of your breath as you move–without this component, you’re simply creating shapes. Remember that the shapes are a doorway to experiencing your inherent state of quiet and ease – they are not the goal. Have fun!
With retreats like Collective Renewal, what do you consider a successful outcome and what drew you to teaching in it?
KW: Having ample time with a group like this affords more space for the softer side of the practice–meditation, breath work, and inquiry. For many people, it’s during these more reflective moments that the shifts and connections that our bodies and minds are longing for begin to unfold. For me, a successful retreat is marked by the guests having experienced—in their own, unique way—a deeper connection to their internal source energy, to their heart’s whispers, and to their internal, guiding compass.
What are you most looking forward to at Collective Renewal?
KW: Nurturing new, lasting, human connections, sharing practices that I love and have impacted my life so deeply, co-creating with Loulou and her magical sounds, and, of course, s’mores by the campfire!
For the wellness newbie, can you explain the benefits of a sound bath and what makes them so special? Do you ever partake in sound baths?
KW: Different types of sounds affect our bodies and nervous systems in different ways. When played, the tones that crystal bowls carry are believed to activate and, in some cases, bring into balance various systems of our body. In my own experience, the sound of the crystal bowls supports my mantra/chanting practice and, at other times, guides me into a deeper state of relaxation in savasana–the final resting pose in a yoga practice.
My dad introduced me to my first crystal bowl experience when I was about nine years old. We had a giant, frosted crystal bowl in our home when I was growing up and he would play it from time to time. He rarely spoke of its ability to heal, but I knew this was a sacred practice by the way he handled the mallet and the bowl. Years later, he gifted a set of bowls to me for my birthday and I’ve been exploring their sound and potency ever since.
What are five of your must-haves for what you would consider to be a successful yoga practice (favorite yoga pants, water bottle, etc.)?
KW: Readiness to explore, non-attachment to what unfolds and a willingness to listen to your body, in my experience, create fertile ground for a “successful” yoga practice. A hydrated body and comfortable clothing (Outdoor Voices + Hyde Organics are my favorite) will help, too! That’s five, I believe?
And last, what are five of your must-haves that get you through the day (makeup products, perfume, a certain protein bar, etc.)?
KW: Movement: Once I’ve dropped the boys off at school, I give myself 60 minutes to move my body, ideally a run or walk outside on a trail near water. This time to myself, moving my body in fresh air, is the part of the day when I feel most creative and inspired. I use this time to study (podcasts!) and mentally create content for my offerings. I always make time along the way to stop, turn my face to the sun and take in the landscape or the colors of the sky. If not on the trail, movement happens on my mat at home. Some days, it’s both.
Meditation: One minute of deep breathing, five minutes of mantra, 20 minutes of deep reflection. Every day is a little bit different, but the consistency of making the time for a quiet sit is a must to support how I want to show up every day….and my kids can tell if I haven’t done my practice–they call me out on it!
Unscheduled Time: I find these pockets of space intentionally placed throughout my day help to lessen the tendency to rush and invite in an opportunity for connection (reaching out to a loved one), quiet (a moment of prayer or gratitude) or self-care (nourishing my body and mind). Even placing a 10-minute “cushion” on either side of a commitment can make a world of difference. The trick is being mindful about how we use that added space.
Water: This may seem an obvious choice, but it’s a challenge for me. When my body is lacking in hydration, I feel it in the way I move, my clarity of mind and my quality of energy. Because I primarily work from home these days, my best hydrating practice is to keep a full container of water in my car, at my home workspace and in the kitchen at all times. The visual reminder usually ensures I’m getting what I need.
Essential Oils: Using high-quality essential oils (my preference is doTERRA) has been one of the most impactful wellness practices I’ve learned in the past several years. They support our family physically, energetically and emotionally and, combined with intention, they create an opportunity to listen to what my body needs and honor that need with a mindful moment of ritual.
Collective Renewal takes place from January 25-27, 2019.