It's officially been a year since I returned from the trip of a lifetime to the Red Sea, as part of my Yoga Teacher Training course. The trip was predominantly a platform within which we could all teach our final classes and receive our certificates; the location was so that we could all experience a little bit of magic whilst we went through such a special week of self-growth and transformation.
This post is my love letter to Egypt. To the things I learnt there and the magical experiences I had.
The journey I took to get to Marsa Shagra was long and arduous. I had signed up for my Yoga Teacher Training, knowing it was the right next step for me, and hoping that I might come out of it with the confidence and knowledge to be able to teach. Little did I know that the single-most important lesson this process would teach me was actually about creating space in my own life for my dreams and desires. Over the nine months it took to complete the qualification, life threw a lot of challenges at me. Every month, things were thrown at me; to test my resolve and my commitment to the choice I had made. There was always a reason to prioritise someone else over myself, a reason to ask for an extension on work that was due, a reason to feel guilty for locking myself away in a quiet room for a few hours to plan my lessons.
I fought the process most of the way through. My natural propensity for teaching and prior knowledge of the yoga discipline carried me most of the way, but a month before we were due to travel to Egypt, I reached a crunch point. I was several months behind on my written work, and my teacher informed me that if I didn't find a way of prioritising myself and respecting the process I had signed up to participate in, I would not receive my qualification. I remember that moment so vividly. She took my hands in hers, looked me deep in the eyes and told me that she had no doubt about my ability to teach. That I was a born teacher, that she had no doubt I would pass with flying colours. Her doubt was in my ability to make space in my own life for myself, enough to get the work completed that was due. That I would not pass unless I could re-align my priorities and get the work done.
In the month following, I finally gave myself permission to make the space. I said no to things I would previously have said yes to. I asked for time off work. I removed myself from distraction and I got the work done. It was the first time in years I had ever said no to something I felt obliged to do and it surprised me how the world didn't end. Nobody came looking for me, furious at my having stepped away. Nothing bad happened. In fact, making the space meant that I got the work done so quickly that by the time we left for Egypt, all I had to do was turn up and teach one final class.
Arriving in Egypt, stepping off that plane, I knew I'd arrived somewhere truly magical. The people, the smells, the warmth of sun in the air. It was all so unique, different, special. We arrived in darkness, so the moment of stepping out of our tent onto the beach the next morning was truly breathtaking. The deep blue of the Red Sea stretched out in front of us to meld with the sky at an unseen point in the distance. Such a bright blue. The sun beamed down, casting a golden glow across the land. Beautiful shells were mixed in amongst the grains of sand, a turtles' nest was nestled in a safe spot right next to our tent opening. Beautiful, palm-roofed huts all around us. It was paradise.
Across the rest of the week. we did a lot of yoga. Two, sometimes three, classes per day so that each of us could teach our final lessons and receive our qualification. We practiced on the beach, at sunrise and sunset, under the light of a beautiful crescent moon. One of my most cherished memories, beside the experience of teaching a class on the beach in the morning light, was of our final closing class. One person remained, yet to receive her qualification, so we all came together to be her students. She taught us a Moon Salutation sequence under the light of a bright, perfect moon. The sand under our toes and the sound of the waves in our ears are sensations I will carry with me forever.
When we weren't doing yoga, we were living yoga. Experiencing the beauty and possibilities of life, seeing beautiful wildlife, meeting and connecting to local people, eating food, drinking wine and laughing. I had the privilege of diving on the reef and meeting an ancient sea turtle. We swam with wild dolphins. We rode out into the desert on Quad bikes and danced in a circle of fire. Some of the things we did don't even sound real when I write them down, but they are forever alive in my memories.
Egypt taught me that those new boundaries I had carved for myself in the month preceding didn't only need to be there temporarily. She taught me that when we live life with a full and open heart, when we prioritise our dreams and approach them as concrete plans, rather than whimsical fancies, the world opens up to us as a magical land of possibilities, rather than a scary place of uncertainty. Life really is there for the taking; we need only get out of our own way to be able to embrace it.
On our final morning, we all came together for a morning meditation under the sun. Wenche (our teacher) invited us to tune into the messages that Egypt had to give us. Asking first for us to connect into what the land said, then what the air said, what the sun said, what the wind said, and so on... The following are the lessons that Egypt taught me, which I'm going to end this post with. I think these are vital lessons for us all on our individual journeys around the sun.
Let your light shine
The winds will always carry your pain away
Ignite your inner passion
Be fiercely you
You are a goddess come down from the heavens to experience life amongst men