I first began my hot yoga journey in July 2018 at a wonderful local hot yoga studio in Lexington, KY named Sterling Hot Yoga. Prior to then, I had struggled with years of hip pain due to tearing the cartilage in my left hip socket. Little did I know, I didn't find yoga and instead it found me. Hot yoga has so many wonderful benefits for someone including improving flexibility, building bone density, reducing stress, easing depression, encouraging cardiovascular health, reducing blood glucose levels, and providing skin nourishment. What yoga really did for me was provide silence, a way to quiet my mind, which never seems to shut up.

And then coronavirus hit, and the studio was temporarily shut down. We had multiple ways we could choose to look at a worldwide pandemic and I chose to look at it through the most optimistic eyes possible. Thankfully, we were in a financial situation that we didn't need to use our stimulus checks for household expenses, and I made the decision that I would use mine for a beautiful yoga retreat hosted by Sterling Hot Yoga in Puerto Morelos, Mexico in March 2022.

Puerto Morelos has a unique personality, and it is an authentic fishing village with a calm, bohemian relaxed atmosphere that allows someone to connect with the simplicity of the people and the town. I had the privilege of staying at Casa Om for a week with about 16 other yogis. Casa Om was a true escape from the darkness of the world and demands of daily living in which all one had to worry about was yoga, relaxing, and repeating. Casa Om had 11 different rooms that new friendships blossomed in, especially when rooming with a stranger. Every detail of Casa Om was thought out and planned to a tee, whether it be the wall art to the residences of the turtle pond.

Retreat leaders Caroline and Erin led us through morning yoga classes of a variety of sorts, evening mediation, and siesta yin. Each morning and most evenings, we were cooked delicious vegetarian meals by an extraordinary kitchen staff. On the evenings we didn't eat dinner as a group, we got to explore town to see what they had to offer, and we stumbled upon a local place with some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. Between yoga and mealtimes, we had the freedom to do what we wanted. Most days included a trip to the beach and a healing session with one of Puerto Morelos's amazing residences. Healing varied from sound healing using singing bowls to having your chakras read and then basing a therapeutic massage off that. We also had the chance to snorkel, visit Mayan ruins and swim in cenotes.

What was truly magical about the trip was the lifelong friendships that were formed in only just a week. Spending a week in paradise without the demands of the world truly allows someone to see another person for who they are at their core. Throughout the beginning stages of the pandemic, we were isolated in our homes as jobs and school shuttered their doors and moved strictly to online. We lost the one thing that truly separates us from the other living beings on this earth........ human connection.

The memories and the experiences made on the 2022 Sterling Hot Yoga Retreat will last a life time and if they don't...... well we just do it all again.

Yoga. Relax. Repeat