deokjeok island yoga retreat / by Shelby Robinson

These past few weeks have been weird. I was in a long, stretched-out funk. It could have been the post-vacation blues or the feelings of missing home or it also could have been a number of various factors, but whatever it was, I knew I wasn't feeling like myself. And then I saw a Facebook post about a yoga retreat on one of Korea's islands, and I thought, "yep, that's it." A gentle, rejuvenating weekend was just what I needed to feel normal again.

Early Saturday morning, the 11 of us began the trek to Deokjeokdo (duk-juk-doh ~ do means island in Korean) from subway to taxi to ferry. Our pension was tucked away from the main port, surrounded by pine trees and mountains, just a short stroll to the beach.

And it was magical. I'm telling you, the island didn't feel like Korea to me. There were hardly any people (places like this are usually packed), the air was clean and refreshing and the island was so quiet. The vibe was laid-back and slow. The smell of pine and sea engulfed us everywhere we walked. The breeze from the top floor windows of the pension cleansed us. The slow walks on the sand did, too.

We did yoga beneath the pine trees and on the beach, ate the most wonderful veggie food, relaxed on the sandy shores, swam in the cool water.... I was surrounded by 11 wonderful souls who all were there for the same purpose: to become more grounded and content.

Some of Sunny's words that resonated with me the most were during savasana on the beach ~ "Let go of your body, let go of your breath, let go of something today." ~ I remember looking out over my left shoulder, with the sand and the small plants and blue sky and calm water in the distance. Feeling my body at rest. My breath slow and steady. My heart full.

After she said "let go of something today" I realized that I no longer needed to feel this looming sadness that had created a home in my heart over the past few weeks. I no longer needed to wake up expecting to have a boring day because I was in a funk. I realized that this feeling no longer served me anymore. So I left it there, on my mat, to stay. And I left that beach with a full heart.

As I write this, I am listening to Paul Simon's Graceland album, sipping a cup of coffee, and am so overwhelmed by the goodness in my life right now. The goodness and ease in my days. One of my most favorite things to do is to remind myself of all of the things I am grateful for, of all the things worth smiling about, all of this goodness. It puts a little bit of perspective in my heart.

I am grateful for new friends and for calm souls and for yoga's love and patience. I am grateful for Sunny and her insight and hospitality. I am grateful for rejuvenating weekends and a calm sea that in turn made my own heart calm. I am grateful for my weekend adventures in this country.

I can't believe I've nearly been here for eight months. How did that happen?